8 Important Tips for Packing to Study Abroad

​You’ve been invited to study abroad for a semester, or even a full year. So, what do you need to bring? What don’t you need? And, how do you get it all there?

​You’ve been invited to study abroad for a semester, or even a full year. So, what do you need to bring? What don’t you need? And, how do you get it all there?

We’ve compiled these eight tips to help you prepare for studying abroad.

Bring the Right Documents

To get into the country where you’ll be studying, you need a passport. If you don’t already have one, give yourself at least eight weeks to get one (you can expedite your passport for a fee). Your passport will remain valid for 10 years and come in handy if you intend to visit neighbouring countries during your time overseas. 

Some countries also require a visa: a document allowing you to stay in that country for a specified amount of time. Check to see if your destination country requires one, and apply early.

You will also want to bring your International Student Card (ISC), which entitles you to discounts at restaurants, shops and more overseas, and carries medical and emergency benefits. The ISC card can also serve as an additional form of identification when you study abroad. If you don’t get one, consider applying for a proof of age card instead. 

Additionally, you will likely need an International Certificate of Vaccination (ICV). Some countries required these even before COVID to prove you had received vaccinations for diseases like polio, malaria, meningitis or yellow fever. Today, you may have to present one proving you’ve been vaccinated for COVID as well.

Always bring your documents with you on the plane – not packed in your luggage. Never ship them. Make several copies to have on hand.

Know the Country

Weather plays a big factor in what you pack, too. Depending on when you go and where you go, you may experience one season or several. Winter usually means bulky jackets, gloves, scarves, hats and boots, which can take up a lot of room in your suitcases. Some airlines will allow you to ship boxes as checked luggage, so you could theoretically pack a box of winter clothes.

Before you start packing for your move to study abroad, study the country you’ll call home. Its climate, culture, geography and recreational opportunities can inform what you pack. For example, the tank top you can wear in London would offend people in Dubai. Also, consider how convenient amenities at your destination will be. Will you be able to buy toiletries at a nearby store, or will you have to commute via public transportation for several hours to reach the closest grocery store to purchase toiletries?

Pack the Right Clothes to Study Abroad

Based on what you learn about the country, pack clothes suitable for your time studying and your time exploring the country. As a starting point, you’ll want to bring:

  • Shirts, pants, dresses, skirts and everyday clothes
  • Underwear, socks and undergarments
  • At least one nice, dressier outfit
  • Pajamas and comfy clothes
  • Bathing suit
  • Exercise clothes for working out, hiking and adventures
  • Light jacket

Bring Suitable Footwear

Your destination may have different terrains than where you live now so make sure to bring suitable footwear. Keep your selections simple and stick to these tried-and-true options:

  • Comfortable shoes for walking
  • Athletic shoes or trail shoes for hiking and outdoor adventures
  • One pair of nice shoes (choose wedges over stilettos)
  • Flip flops for hostel showers or the beach
  • Slippers (or gripper socks) for colder climates

Add Toiletries and Other Necessities

Once you’ve decided on your clothes and footwear, finish your packing by adding toiletries to your luggage:

  • Shampoo, conditioner and soap
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste and floss
  • Contact lenses, solution and eyewear
  • Deodorant
  • Cosmetics
  • Sunscreen
  • Feminine products
  • Contraceptives

The whole point of studying abroad is to learn, in the classroom and beyond. Pack for both. You will also want to bring:

  • Laptop, charger and supplies
  • Mobile device (cell phone) and tablet
  • Pen, pencils and school supplies
  • Camera, if you enjoy photography
  • Journal to record your experiences
  • Paper map, in case you can’t rely on cell service
  • Small backpack for day trips
  • Padlock for hostel lockers

Don’t Overpack to Study Abroad

Most international flights allow at least one, sometimes two checked bags. Depending on the airline and destination, you may be able to check additional bags (or boxes) for a fee. However, keep in mind that whatever bags you bring, you have to get them to and from the airport.

Try to keep your luggage limited to two large, checked suitcases for your clothes, toiletries, favorite products and other necessities. In your carry-on, bring your electronics (laptops, tablets, etc.), chargers, essential gear and any prescriptions. You may also want to pack a fresh t-shirt and a toothbrush for long flights.

After you arrive, if you find you need more clothes or left things at home, your parents can send you a care package through a carrier.

Rent a storage unit

If you do end up bringing more than you need and you don’t have enough storage space at the place that you live, you can rent a storage unit to store excess items. For example, you can store shoes or coats that you won’t wear regularly in a self storage unit.

Bring Your Favorite Products

If you can’t survive without your favorite products, like a snack or brand of soap, then by all means pack a few packages in your luggage. One or two items that remind you of home may help you cope as you adjust to a new country. Don’t get carried away, though: your parents and friends can always send these items in a care package later.

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Please contact a U-Lock Mini Storage self-storage facility near you to inquire about our storage units and our team members will be delighted to answer any questions you have!