Bring or Buy there: Packing Tips for Studying Abroad

Bring or Buy there: Packing Tips for Studying Abroad

What you should bring and what you should just buy there.

Going to school abroad from the U.S. is quite a different experience than attending school in the U.S.A. big part of the experience is being limited to usually one complimentary 50 pound check-in bag that comes with your airplane ticket (it can be two depending on the airline you take *cough cough* Emirates Airlines is the *cough cough*). Believe me, the struggle is so real when the back-to-school sale starts in the U.S. and you see so many things you wish you could bring to make the dorm of your dreams, but realistically can't. Now entering my third year in studying abroad, here's my tip list for all you first-time study abroads on what you should definitely make room for in your check-in bag and what you should buy there.

**DISCLAIMER: this is list of what I consider basic essentials you'll need when you first enter you bare dorm room abroad after arriving from the airport**


1. Universal adapter - bring 2

All of us have electronics that need to be charged, like your phone. Bring a universal adapter that is usable in multiple countries, and not just one, that way it can hold up to all of your future traveling endeavors. Bring 2, because you never know what else you might need to plug in until you actually arrive at school. Plus, if the 2nd one becomes unnecessary, one adapter can be used particularly for traveling and the other particularly for use at school. Anything to facilitate your packing process is always is a great help when you end up traveling often. Believe me, while you're abroad, you'll be traveling often, or at least you should be to take advantage of your location.

2. Laptop charger adapter

Taking from my own experience, always check the voltage of your laptop charger. Nine times out of ten, the voltage of your laptop charger will be so high that it won't be able to work properly if you try to use your American plug with Universal adapter. It'll actually end up burning out your laptop charger within like 10 uses. I can guarantee you need to buy the specialized laptop charger adapter kit for your Apple laptop. For other brands, check with your providers.

3. Bedding

Chances are you'll arrive in your school's dorm to a plain mattress. Instead of sleeping on the naked dorm mattress without a blanket (who knows what's happened on that mattress), bring some basics, especially because who knows when you'll be able to find bedding. I recommend to bring a basic sheet set (one with a fitted sheet and at least one pillow cover) and a simple blanket. For the blanket, try not to get one that is heavy, big, or puffy, because it'll be hard to pack and it'll hurt your baggage weight clearance. Maybe think of buying a travel blanket.

4. Travel pillow

A travel pillow is great, because it'll give you something comfortable to rest your head on in your new dorm room until you are able to go dorm room shopping. Plus, it'll be useful on your future travel endeavors (be it planes or trains).

5. Travel size toiletries

Most likely, when you first get to school abroad, you'll be too tired to go shopping for whatever essentials you'll need once you arrive. You'll probably have to wait at least a few days until you get started shopping for what you need. To get through your first days, bring some basic travel size toiletries. Especially for the first day you'll arrive, you'll want to take a shower after the long plane ride. Hopefully, you bring your travel toiletries in a travel toiletries bag. A clear bag that can contain sized containers for liquids of 3.4 oz or less will be useful in your future efforts to travel for cheap prices (carry-on is what you need to consider for cheap airplane prices).

6. Towel

Like I said, most likely, you won't be able to go shopping until at least a few days after arriving at school abroad. However, unlike when you pack for vacations and can depend on the hotel to provide you towels, your college will most likely not. You'll definitely need to shower, especially after arriving from the long flight, so for health reasons bring a towel. Preferably, bring a light towel. It doesn't necessarily have to be a specialized travel towel, but you can do that if size and weight is definitely an issue for packing.

7. Basic school supplies

If you've gotten the memo so far, shopping isn't easy to get to when you first arrive at school abroad. Especially because you're in a foreign place for the first time. When it comes to all the shopping needs, it's probably best to wait until you can meet long-time students of the school who can give you the down-low on where to shop for whatever you need. While waiting for all of that to happen, it'll be good to have at least some pens, pencils, a highlighter, and at least one notebook to get you through the first week of school.

8. Backpack

By backpack, I mean a legit backpack that can carry some weight, not a pretty little accessory backpack purse (I love them like everyone else, but it's not what I consider an essential). It's just so useful as a carry-on bag in your future traveling endeavors. Backpacks can become expensive outside the U.S., especially because you want one that won't rip easily (safety and security measures, guys. it's so real out there). Instead of having to deal with disadvantageous currency conversion, just buy it in the U.S.

9. Luggage locks

First of all, when you travel, you should always have your bags locked for security reasons. Nonetheless, those locks are super useful, once you get to school, when you travel for fun. When you're looking for cheap lodging (be it a youth hostel, airbnb, or cheap hotel), there's a good chance that you're sharing a room with people you don't know or the security isn't that great. Keep your stuff safe and secure with your locks. For the locks, be okay with splurging just so you can get dependable, not easily breakable locks.

10. Stylish shoes made for walking

Chances are you'll end up walking a lot while studying abroad, so you'll want some comfortable, but durable, for all types of weather shoes. However, you'll want them to stay stylish, because style is extremely important in Europe. When in doubt, try going for black leather boots/booties.

11. Raincoat for all types of weather

You can buy an umbrella when you get there (although I'm a firm believer of always being ready, so I always bring my umbrella). A rain jacket is more essential because sometimes you just don't have the free hand to carry an umbrella. Plus, if it's a good jacket, it can be used for almost any type of weather.

12. Mini-First Aid Kit

Because, you never know what can happen.

BONUS: Very small purse and leather jacket for clubbing as now you're officially legal in Europe (YAY!)

A very small purse to hold you absolute essentials (aka phone, dorm key, and some money for whatever you need), and a leather jacket because you'll need a jacket for going out and everyone will be wearing it so you won't be so easily detected as a foreigner (better to keep attention away for safety reasons).

Buy There:

1. Duvet and Duvet Cover

It'll get cold at your school. You're also free to buy a mattress protector.

2. Pillows

You're may also want to buy pillow protectors.

3. Full sized toiletries

Warning, it may not be possible to get the same products you use in the U.S. where you're studying abroad so research on that and do what you need to do.

4. Water Filter

Because, it is so much cheaper to not buy disposable water bottles, which leads me to . . .

5. Reusable water bottle

It's cheaper in the long run (it can be cheaper to buy beer than water in Switzerland), and it's environmentally friendly :D.

6. The rest of the school supplies you think you'll ever need

You know what you need to do to do best in your studies, especially because you're only abroad in the first place so you can study.

7. Dorm room decor

Your surroundings play a key in keeping you sane and happy. Do what you need to do to make your dorm room abroad comfortable.

8. All things needed in the kitchen

It truly depends on the type of dorm you're living in. If its a dorm with a common kitchen, then check on the kitchen status and if they utensils are clean, just stick with whats there. If you're dorm room comes with your own kitchen, usually the university should have some basics in the cupboards. If they don't have the basics or the basics they have aren't satisfactory to you, buy what you need.

9. Shower shoes

Cheap lodging can sometimes mean disgusting bathrooms. Be ready by getting some shower shoes (aka flip flops). Flip flips should be cheap everywhere, but it's circumstantial.

10. Tool Kit

Because, home debate usually needs to be built together *cough cough IKEA cough cough*.

**BONUS: research to see if online stores like Amazon are available in the country you're in. You'll be able to compare prices or maybe even something you can't find at school. If Amazon is available in the country you're studying abroad in, you'll have to create a separate account for that country's Amazon.**

**Remember, you're only going to a different country, not to a different world.**

Curious, what school I study abroad at? Check out Franklin University Switzerland!

Note: As an Amazon Associate, Odyssey may earn a portion of qualifying sales.

Cover Image Credit: Socks' Guide to Free World Travel

Popular Right Now

If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.

Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things.

If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize, and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity toward this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs.

In a world where a six-figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm...

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

5 Vital And Helpful Tips I Live By When Packing For A Trip

Try and pack smarter, not harder.


If you are anything like me, you tend to overpack thinking you are being a great packer and being ready for any scenario that life may throw at you. Well, that is, unfortunately untrue, and I have learned that you are only doing more harm than good. Over the years, I have come up with five tips I always use when traveling and have been proven to work. You've heard of the five golden rules of life, and, well, these are the five golden rules/tips of packing.

1. Start with a packing list.

This is the best tip I could give to anyone else who is getting ready to travel. Making a list is very useful, especially when stressed about your travel. You will not forget anything because you have it all written down. A packing list is a great way to keep organized when packing.

2. Use space bags.

Now, this is a tip my dad lives by. Space bags are great when you are packing because it protects your clothes and makes room to put a lot in your suitcase. The crazy story of a time when my dad was traveling, and his friend's bag was soaked with the shampoo he brought on the plane. All his clothes and everything inside the suitcase was ruined. So always use space bags because you never know what could happen on the flight. You can buy a space bag here.

3. Pack the essentials first.

I will be honest and say that I do over-pack a lot. I use the line "just in case" as an excuse to pack my entire house. But I have learned that packing for "just in case" is a waste of time. When you first sit down to pack, lay out all your essentials. For example, clothes that you will wear during the trip. You will be surprised to see how effective it is.

SEE ALSO: 10 Reasons Chicago Is The Best City In The World

4. ALWAYS pack an extra outfit in your carry on.

This tip is one that I have been very grateful that I used. A while ago during my trip to Canada, my check-in bag was missing and delayed for multiple hours. Luckily I had an extra outfit to keep me fresh and not feel gross. It is always crucial to this in your carry on In case of emergencies such as your bag getting lost.

5. Put identification on your suitcase.

Everyone in the airport somehow tends to have the same black or red suitcase that you have, which only means confusing when you're trying to find your check-in bag. To quickly identify your suitcase, put a sticker, or tie a ribbon on the handle. You can easily pick up your suitcase and leave. This will prevent any sneaky people trying to steal or claim that your suitcase is theirs.

P.S.: Use a bright color ribbon or a different sticker. Also, tie the ribbon properly to make sure it's secured.

I live by these five packing tips every time I travel so I hope you can use them the next time you take a trip!

Related Content

Facebook Comments