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Packing tips for international students

Studying abroad for any amount of time is an amazing experience, full of a variety of occasions that you will need different attire for! However, it’s easy to over-pack and bring unnecessary items when luggage space is tight due to checked baggage charges and weight limits. Here’s a list of helpful tips and suggestions to make packing as painless as possible:

Weather: Do your research before you go abroad and check out the climate in the country you’re studying in. You should know what the typical weather conditions are and pack accordingly. For example, the United Kingdom is notoriously rainy, so it’s smart to pack a good raincoat that will become your best friend during sudden downpours. A sturdy pair of rain boots also comes in handy, though you can buy these there because they’re heavy and take up a lot of space. Another example would be a hot, sunny location, like in Central America or the Caribbean, where you would need lightweight summer clothing, like shorts, t-shirts, or bathing suits (and in some equatorial countries – a light raincoat).

Shop Later: Like with the rain boots, it’s often a good idea to save some items to buy when you reach your destination because they take up space or are cheaper. For example, if you’re going to Boston, you can find a winter jacket, boots, and other accessories much more easily once you are there, especially if you’re coming from somewhere like, say, Brazil. If you’re not sure of specific styles, save up money and go shopping to help you assimilate into your new home and culture. It’s also smart to save space and buy items like toiletries once you reach your destination.

Be Flexible: If you are going only for a semester (or taking a short trip while you are already abroad), a good idea is to pack clothing that’s versatile and suits several occasions. For example, a nice top that can be worn with a sweater while at work or class, but also dressed up to wear when going out at night. People often pack clothing that’s in the same color scheme to make matching easier. Scarves are also versatile, whether you use them to keep warm, cover your head, or accessorize an outfit.

Shoe Situation: The most important thing to keep in mind is comfort. If you are attending school in an urban area or city, you will most likely spend a lot of time walking around, so a comfortable pair of shoes is a necessity. Going to class, most students wear more casual footwear, but you may also need business shoes for class presentations, interviews, or other meetings. If you want to stay active, a pair of athletic shoes are also smart to bring.

The Other Stuff: Your luggage will also hold much more than your wardrobe—don’t forget to bring items that remind you of home to stay connected while abroad. You can bring photos of friends and family to hang up in your new room or anything else that has sentimental value. One overall helpful tip is to pack in Spacebags—big plastic bags that compress clothing into smaller sizes by taking out all the air. But careful, it’s easy to go over the baggage weight limit by doing this because you can fit much more into a suitcase. Clothes also take up less space when you roll them, versus the regular folding technique.

"Wraxall MMB 06 Smudge and Whisky" by mattbuck (category) - Own work by mattbuck.

Packing can be a daunting task, but don’t stress about it too much. If you are moving to a new country for an extended period of time to study, you’ll end up buying lots of new things as you settle in to your new apartment and learn about the culture.

The most important thing to remember is to plan for the location you are going to and not for the place you are coming from J


  1. Wish I would have read this before I moved to Florida! Did not need that heavy winter coat... but would have been great to bring a light rain coat... Thanks for great post!

  2. Fantastic article. My son will going to study abroad. I am so concerned. I am so glad that I have found your blog. You make our planning list easier. Best regards!

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