Packing for your study abroad term is a surreal experience. It is one of the moments that makes you realize, after sending in your application and being accepted by your host school, that it’s all happening and that you are only days away from one of the most exciting opportunities in your life.
These tips on how to pack are from one of TRU’s study abroad ambassadors. While packing is an art, once mastered, you are one skill closer to being a serious traveler!
Determine your essentials
Start by asking yourself these questions: What are your favourite clothes? What toiletries are a must have? What tech will you take with you? Will you bring school supplies or buy upon arrival? How many shoes will you wear? (I burnt through two pairs and purchased one pair abroad)
After rounding up all of your essentials, see what else you can leave behind. Determine, within your budget, what you are able to buy on arrival.
How many bags will you take?
On most international flights, airlines will limit you to a single checked bag and one carry-on. Make sure you bring a sturdy and robust suitcase (or two) so it does not become unusable after your trip is over.
If you chose to take two checked bags, double-check the regulations of your returning flight, if booking a round trip.
For your carry-on, bring something that you will use for short trips and travelling when in your host country.
How to pack?
Learn how to ‘Army Roll’ your clothes to maximize capacity in your suitcase of choice.
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It would be a good idea to purchase a reliable luggage scale if it’s within your price range so you have access to a scale before your return flight.
Understand what you are able to take in your luggage, both checked carry-on as regulations are differ for luggage in cabins and in the cargo hold. Review your airline’s policies to stay informed.
Budgeting and packing
Make a list of purchases that interest you while on your trip and remove duplicates from your luggage. This highly pertains to clothing. If you believe you will purchase items like a jacket or shoes, bring less of them with you.
If your luggage is underweight while leaving, this is okay, and recommended. Do not create headaches for yourself with too much stuff when arriving at the airport for your returning flight. I struggled through this unpleasant experience.
Ready, set, go!
Double, triple, and quadruple check that you have all your proper documents. Make photocopies of your passport and other ID’s, in case of the event they become lost or stolen. It expedites the process to re-issue them. It is also a good idea to scan or take photos of these items and email them to yourself for digital access.
Bring an outlet adapter so you can get a charge on your device immediately upon arrival and make contact with your friends and family back home, as well as your host university if need be.
Wear comfortable clothing and footwear on your flights. I found a pair of cargo shorts with pockets, a hoodie, and worn-in runners suited my needs perfectly.
Have fun and try to relax on your journey. Make attempts to talk to some people along your way; ask for advice or tips. On my flight – from Munich, Germany to Lyon, France – I managed to sit beside a friendly fellow that was more than willing to help me out. After my flight landed in France, he guided me all the way from the airport to the main train station near my hotel. He also gave me a city tour of Lyon the next day which was the best welcoming I could have imagined.
Be prepared, be outgoing, and have fun!
Good luck travellers!