Packing for Abroad

One question that many first-time study abroad students have, no matter where they plan on going, is “what should I pack?” Not many students have ever had to plan for being in a whole new country for several months, and it can be a little overwhelming trying to decide what items to bring and what to leave behind.

In search for some answers to this consistent question, I decided to send out a survey to some Champlain study abroad alumni in order to learn from people who have abroad experience. Here are some of the survey highlights:

As far as general packing tips go, there seems to be one common piece of advice; pack light. Many of our abroad alumni are saying that you won’t need as many clothes as you think you will, so stick to about a weeks worth of outfits and a few essentials and maybe leave behind the rest. Another common word of advice is to keep in mind that you will likely want to buy some clothes and souvenirs while you’re there, so leave some extra space when you’re packing, and if you do want to fill all the space in your bags, think about bringing some things that you will leave behind in your abroad location that will later free up some space, such as a favorite snack or perhaps a gift that you can give while you’re abroad as a way to say thank you.

There are a handful of items that are essential to bring when you go abroad, including things like your passport, debit card, phone, laptop, chargers (and a plug adapter,) reusable water bottle, a pair of strong walking shoes, and a good backpack since you’re sure to go on some daytrips. Some other items that are nice to have but not necessarily essential would be things like a camera, headphones, and Dayquill or other cold medicines. If you’d like to bring some room decoration, our alumni recommend bringing small things that are light to pack, such as small posters or some small decorative lights. These formerly listed items you should only bring if you strongly think you will use them, otherwise leave them behind as they are not essential. Also, it may be beneficial to try and leave behind things that you would typically use for entertainment, since you will be wanting to go out and explore and will likely not use these items very much. And for our Montreal students, one of our alumni recommends not bringing any gaming equipment, as it is often heavy to pack and there will be gaming equipment in the academic center that students can use.

Packing with your location’s climate in mind is incredibly important. If you’re going to Montreal, it is vital to pack a warm jacket and some winter gear (gloves, hat, boots.) If you’re going to Dublin, bring a warm rain coat with a hood, as Dublin tends to be rainy and windy. If you’re going to one of our Asia Freeman locations, pack some sunscreen and electrolytes to prepare for the heat.

I asked our alumni if there were any items they packed that they regret bringing, and it seems that the items they regret the most were bulky items, such as extra hoodies and extra blankets, so only bring bulky items such as these if they’re absolutely necessary since they are difficult to pack. Lastly, don’t stress too much about the packing process; remember that you can always buy things while you’re abroad, so it’s not a huge deal if you forget a thing or two.

More General Advice
Montreal Culture Differences
Life Abroad Panels: Finance Issues
Life Abroad Panels: Homesickness