For all of you heading abroad this summer, here are some quick suggestions to think about when you start to pack!
1: Too many nice clothes
When I studied abroad last summer, I brought WAY too many nice clothes with me (dress shirts, slacks, ties, etc). I only wore them about once. Other than this one time, they were taking up space in my suitcase and getting wrinkled in my closet. It’s important to bring at least one nice outfit – you never know when your friends will want to go to a fancy restaurant! – but other than that, avoid bringing a lot of nice clothes when you study abroad this summer.
2: A bunch of food
Other than a few snacks for the plane, there’s really no need to bring a lot of food with you when you study abroad. While the prospect of spending two months away from peanut butter may be a frightening thought, you’ll probably be too busy having a great time to worry about what you’re missing from home.
3: Expensive electronics and accessories
It’s probably a good idea to bring your laptop to use for homework and Skyping back home, and your smartphone is an important tool for all you Instagram fanatics, but other than these two versatile items I would not recommend bringing a bunch of expensive electronics. Unless you have a specific use for them, they will just take up space in your luggage and cause you more headaches than they are worth.
4: More than one suitcase
For a summer abroad, there really isn’t any reason to bring your entire wardrobe with you. Besides costing you an arm and a leg at the airport, extra suitcases are a hassle to bring along with you on weekend trips and excursions. Packing light = more room for souvenirs and less baggage to lug around in the airport.
5: Culturally insensitive clothing
You should wear the clothes that you feel comfortable in, but be aware that a bikini/tank top and short shorts won’t fly when you visit the Vatican or Notre Dame Cathedral. Bring layers and be sensitive to local expectations of proper dress.
6: Large bottles of liquids (shampoo, soap, etc)
Unless you require a specific brand of shampoo or soap, buy all your toiletries once you reach your destination. The exceptions to this rule are contact solution, sunscreen, and bug spray – these all tend to be much more expensive and harder to find outside the United States.
7: A completely full suitcase
I just want to say again – save room in your suitcase for souvenirs! When I studied abroad last summer, I bought a lot more gifts for my friends and family back home than I was expecting to. Only bring the necessities with you and buy the basic supplies you need when you get abroad.
Of course, it’s up to you to pack what you think is most important to you and your study abroad experience!