Studying abroad: What should you bring? - Packing list
Author: Last update: 19 May 2020
Are you wondering what to pack for your stay abroad? Spending a few months or even years at a university abroad may seem intimidating. With our study abroad packing list you can be sure you won’t forget a thing. We have compiled all the essentials and adapted the list for both boys and girls. You probably will not need all the things on the list, so feel free to adjust it to your needs:
Clothing for study abroad:
- Underwear (2 weeks’ worth)
- Socks (2 weeks’ worth)
- Long-sleeved shirts or blouses
- Short-sleeved shirts or blouses
- Sweaters, hoodies or sweatshirts (2 or 3)
- Jeans, chinos or khakis (2 or 3 pairs)
- Shorts or skirts
- Jackets or coats (2 or more, depending on your destination’s climate)
- Shoes (at least 2 pairs)
- Swimsuit or swimming trunks
- Sports clothes for working out
- Flip-flops or rubber sandals (especially if you will be sharing showers / bathrooms)
- If you travel to a cold location:
- Thermal underwear
- Woolen over-socks
- Gloves or mittens
Remember also to bring face masks, as these may be mandatory to wear in public or in shops in many countries. Ideally, bring cotton masks that you can wash, but disposable paper masks will also work.
Electronics for study abroad:
- Smartphone with charger
- Notebook/laptop with charger
- Power outlet adapters in case your destination’s power outlets and voltages are different (ideally 2 or more)
- Camera with case and charger
- Flash drives, USB sticks, memory cards
- E-reader with charger
- MP3 player or iPod with charger
Medicine and toiletries for study abroad:
You should pack some medicine, especially if you need to take something on prescription. It may take a while to be in the healthcare system in your host country, so make sure you have enough. Also, make sure you are allowed to bring the medicine into the country - ideally, contact your host country's embassy in your home country.
When it comes to toiletries, only pack your essentials for a few days. Anything beyond that you are better off buying in your host country. That way you’ll save room in your luggage.
Also, remember the rules for liquids in your cabin luggage: You can only bring liquids in 100 ml containers, with no more than 10 items in a small transparent plastic bag. Anything else you should put into the suitcase that you check in. Security personnel at airports will not argue with you if you break this rule - they will simply throw away your liquids.
- Transparent plastic bag for hand luggage toiletries
- Shower gel, soap
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Deodorant and perfumes
- Shaver, razors, shaving cream
- Contact lenses and contact lense liquid
- Nail clippers
- Comb or hairbrush
- Tampons or pads (a month’s worth)
- Some tissues and toilet paper
- Prescription medicine
- Anti-allergy medicine
- Hand sanitiser
Other items for studying abroad:
- Backpack - something to use as your hand luggage, and daily at university
- Important documents, such as your passport, student visa, credit card, travel itinerary, plane and train tickets, boarding passes, student card (ISIC), health insurance card or a copy of your travel health insurance, doctor’s note for prescription medicine etc. - have all of these in your hand luggage!
- Purse and/or wallet
- Around 100-200 EUR in cash for when you arrive (or the equivalent, if euros are not the local currency)
- Essential jewelry you cannot live without - but nothing too valuable!
- Sleeping bag, depending on where you will stay or what your travel plans are
- Padlock, especially if staying at a hostel
- A journal to take notes
- A dictionary for the local language
- If you are staying with a host family: a unique gift from your home country
Things you should rather buy in your host country:
Don’t bring everything! There are a few things that would take up a lot of space in your luggage, but would be relatively cheap to buy after you have arrived in your host country. If you have gone through our packing list and still have room, pack them; otherwise, take care of those items after arrival:
- Linens, bed sheets, blanket, pillow
- Towels and facecloths
- Laundry bag
- Toiletries you did not pack
- Essential course textbooks
- Office supply - paper, pens, folders
- Seasonal clothing and shoes you did not bring
Use your hand luggage for some essentials
It is sad, but true: Airlines sometimes lose checked luggage - and if they are able to track it down, it may take a few days before you receive it back. Prepare for that scenario:
- Have a name tag on or in your luggage, and use a colourful luggage strap or something else to make your suitcase stand out visually. This will help the airline track it down.
- Pack some of your essentials in your hand luggage, as well as your documents and your valuables, and some underwear - just in case.
You might be coming back with more
Most students who go abroad end up with more luggage on their way back home than with what they originally came - especially after a longer stay. You should anticipate that you will be buying new clothes, have more textbooks and study notes, possibly some souvenirs and other things you acquire during a year abroad. So when your return flights are coming up, plan ahead: Book an extra piece of luggage, or prepare for sending home a parcel with stuff you won’t need immediately.
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