Hey, Hi, Hello! It’s been a while! That’s because two days after Christmas, I was packing up my life, getting on a plane and flying to Germany. In the past two months, I have moved into a new apartment, started student teaching, traveled to 4 countries and several cities, and (hopefully) adjusted to being abroad. Props to those who can keep up with a blog when they go abroad, because it is HARD! On the bright side, I am back, and so excited to share a new post with y’all!
Today I want to talk all about packing for study abroad, both what you should bring, and what you should leave behind. I packed all of my items in ONE 50 pound bag, a carry-on, and a backpack, so you can do it to! At the bottom of the post is also a pinnable info graphic with a summary of what to bring and what to leave behind on your study abroad trip!
What to Take
- 5-10 shirts that work with several outfits and various situations. Don’t pack anything that only goes with one other item. As I am teaching, my clothes had to work for both travel and for professional teaching clothes. I also made sure to have comfortable dress shirts, so I could wear them on long train rides or flights without being miserable.
- Two weeks of underwear and socks. I thought one week would be enough, but it is not! Doing laundry every single week is a pain, especially when most weekends you are going to be travelling. Pack at least two weeks of these items. They don’t take that much space in your suitcase, so just do it.
- 3-5 pairs of pants. Again, bring versatile pants that can go with several shirts and are very comfortable. I had to bring dress pants as well, but in addition I brought 3 pairs of jeans. I could have survive with two since I only use them on the weekends, but for a regular study abroad I would definitely recommend 3 minimum.
- Two pairs of leggings. These do double duty for me as making my dresses acceptable for teaching, night pants, and an extra layer under jeans during winter travel.
- Two dresses. If you bring the right dresses, it can actually be great travel wear. No restrictive jeans or tight tops, and dresses can be versatile. You can dress them up or down based on what you wear with them – and even when abroad it is a good idea to have a few nice things to wear.
- 2-3 leisure outfits. This is where I absolutely FAILED on this trip! I did not bring a single t-shirt or sweatshirt, and when I was at home I was constantly unhappy in my dress shirts. Eventually I bought a few cheap shirts, but it would have been cheaper to pack them in the first place. I did manage to bring one pair of shorts and one pair of sweats. You may want to bring more, especially if you work out.
- Swimsuit. If you are going anywhere warm, or plan to visit anywhere warm or with a pool, bring a swimsuit. Buying or renting a swimsuit at the last minute is going to be pretty expensive! If you even think you will need it, go ahead and bring it.
- Coats/Jackets. If you are studying abroad in the fall or spring, you will likely experience some colder weather. I brought my winter coat (which I wore on the plane to save space), my Colombia fleece, and a rain coat. I have worn all three consistently, and don’t regret bringing all three. The weather in Europe can be temperamental, and it is better to be prepared.
- Other winter wear. Scarves, gloves, and a hat are a must. Winter boots are up to you. I did not bring any, but ended up buying some after a few weeks! Most people who brought them got a good amount of use out of them. It is not super snowy where we are in Germany, but it has been cold. I wore my snow boots when I went to the Alps.
- Travel sized everything – don’t bother bringing the full size of anything, unless you are really attached to a brand that you won’t be able to get abroad. I brought travel shampoo, conditioner, face wash, lotion, and toothpaste. I only packed the full size of a hair gel I swear by. By bringing a travel size of most things, it took up less space in my luggage and got me through until I could buy larger sizes from a store here. Now when I travel on the weekends, I have convenient small sizes to take with me!
- Shampoo & Conditioner
- Face wash (and any other items you use for your skin care, stress is killer on your skin)
- Toothpaste and toothbrush
- Makeup you wear regularly, with several outfits
- One month of feminine products. These are sold everywhere, so don’t worry about finding them. Bring enough so you don’t get stuck without any, but don’t bring a 4 month supply.
- Nail clippers
- Any prescriptions you have, filled for the full four months
- A travel safe purse and wallet. Please don’t bring your oversize coach purse to study abroad. For your own sake, bring a secure cross body purse, preferably with a zipper (not a flap). Cross body purses are way easier for traveling and carrying around, and a zipper helps prevent pick pockets. If you want to be extra safe, buy an anti-theft purse! I bought **this one,** and have really liked it. It has a locking zipper, blocks scanners, cannot be cut through, and has a good amount of storage. You can also get secure wallets that prevent RFID scanning. I recommend a small wallet that is east to carry around.**This is an affiliate link, meaning if you buy this purse through the link, Living in Full Bloom receives a small commission. Thank you for supporting brands that make Living in Full Bloom possible.**
- Backpack. When studying abroad, a backpack is your best friend. You will likely be traveling with it every weekend, because it is portable and you don’t have to roll it around behind you. I recommend something that is waterproof with a bottom pocket for shoes. When you are going somewhere for the weekend, especially if there is a weather change, it is nice to have a built in shoe pocket in your backpack that doesn’t take away from your packing space.
- Water bottle and metal clips. Water if your best friend. When you walk all over the city, you need to stay hydrated. Unfortunately, water is not free in most European restaurants. If you want to stay hydrated and save money, a plastic water bottle is the way to go, with a metal clip to hook it to your purse for hands-free carry!
- Student ID. This will get you discounts in so many places! Most museums, zoos, and similar locations have some type of student discount. If you aren’t sure, show your ID and ask if there is a discount! It will save you lots of money while abroad.
- Umbrella. For the first month in Germany it rained nearly every day. My umbrella took a hit from an intense wind, and I had to replace it immediately. Don’t show up unprepared.
- Headphones! I brought two pairs because I would be lost without a pair. I listen to music every day on my commute to school, as well as in my shared apartment, and when on long train rides!
- Kindle/Nook. If you like to read, this is a MUST bring on your study abroad. I almost didn’t bring mine, and I am so glad I decided at the last minute to pack my kindle. I have already read 15 books this year thanks to cheap kindle books and long train rides! Packing books wasn’t reasonable with my bag and weight restrictions, so I have been reading solely through my kindle.
- Laptop. A big part of being abroad is the studying part, and for that you likely need a computer to do your assignments. I use my laptop less than some, simply because I cannot use it during the school hours. Still, it is an essential for assignments and lesson planning, as well as communicating with those back home.
- Portable charger. This has saved my butt several times. When you are in the middle of a foreign country with only your offline map to guide you and your train tickets on that phone, you need your phone charged! A portable charger is never a bad idea. Find one that isn’t too bulky, but holds more than one charge at a time.
- Adapters. For some reason, I can only ever find adapters that work literally everywhere and are bulky boxes that can break apart into various different adapters. Instead, I recommend **one like this** which works a lot better with European outlets. Outlets are usually round and set into the wall, so that round adapter works perfectly for what you need. Make sure you have any adapters you need for other countries you might wish to visit.
- Whatsapp. Everyone in Europe utilizes whatsapp for communicating – it uses wifi instead of your messages, so if you don’t have a phone plan you can still communicate. If you meet others in your program or locals, they will likely be using whatsapp, so go ahead and install it now.
- Paypal. When booking travel with friends, it is helpful to be able to use paypal to pay each other back. It is free if you hook up your bank account, so set it up before you leave the states.
What Not to Bring
- Clothes that are excessively dressy. I brought one dress that is too dressy even for teaching, and I regret lugging it all the way here just to bring it back unworn.
- Clothes that you don’t feel comfortable in/wear often. Don’t tell yourself you’ll wear it more abroad. If you don’t wear it now, you likely won’t while abroad.
- Makeup/hygiene items you use once or twice a month. Unless it is an essential item, don’t waster luggage space on it. Every ounce and inch matters!
- Clothes for a the season you aren’t in. If you are worried, bring just one or two items for unseasonably warm or cold days.
- Gift and membership cards to places only found in the United States.
- Expensive jewelry that you don’t wear 24/7.
So there you have it! A comprehensive packing list for study abroad. Did I forget anything you had on your packing list? Please let me know in the comments below if you think I should add something, or if you have any questions about packing for study abroad! Feel free to save the below info graphic or pin it for future reference!