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The Ultimate Study Abroad Packing List


If you’re studying abroad this semester, you’re about to face the ultimate challenge before you even board the plane: packing everything you need to live in a different country for four months in one suitcase. You may feel a bit panicked as you wonder what to bring, what to leave and what’s actually essential.

Take a deep breath, collegiettes—we’re here to help. Before you rush to the airport, use this checklist to ensure that you have everything you need in your new home away from home.

In your carry-on bag

  • Airplane ticket(s)
  • American cell phone and charger (in case you need to contact someone while you’re still in the US)
  • Antibacterial gel
  • Cash (Bring both American dollars and the currency of your host location or money you can exchange for it – enough to use in case of an emergency, but not more money than you can afford to lose)
  • Copy of birth certificate
  • Copy of Social Security card
  • Credit card (Notify your bank that you’ll be abroad before you leave to avoid your account being frozen)
  • Debit card
  • Deodorant
  • E-reader or book
  • Emergency contact list
  • Glasses/glasses case
  • Gum
  • Health insurance card
  • Medication you normally take
  • Passport (along with three scanned copies: one to leave with your parents, one for your program director and one for yourself)
  • Prescription medications and copies of prescriptions (make sure you bring enough refills to last your entire trip)
  • School ID
  • Spare outfit (in case your luggage gets lost or delayed)
  • State ID
  • Student visa
  • Travel itinerary
  • Travel pillow
  • Travel tickets (if you’re taking a train or other transport after your plane lands)
  • Wallet


Keep these in a plastic bag at the top of your checked suitcase.

Tip: To save room in your suitcase, buy standard items such as shampoo and conditioner in your host country.

  • Acne medication/cream
  • Deodorant
  • Floss
  • Makeup
  • Tissues (a small, portable pack)
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste


Tip: Because of the voltage differences in many electronic products, you may want to wait until you’re in your host country to buy items such as a blow dryer or hair straightener—plugging an American hair dryer into an outlet converter could overheat and break it.

Remember that most of your electronic items will need an outlet converter in order to work!

  • Bobby pins
  • Comb
  • Contacts, solution and case (Again, make sure you have all the contacts you need for your time abroad)
  • Hair ties
  • Hairbrush
  • Headbands
  • Nail clipper
  • Razor
  • Sunglasses
  • Tampons and pads
  • Toothbrush
  • Travel water bottle
  • Tweezers


You will likely have the opportunity to do laundry on your trip and will be able to purchase detergent in your host country.

  • Linens/towels (if your housing doesn’t have them)
  • Lint brush
  • Portable stain remover pen
  • Small laundry bag
  • Travel sheet (for hostels)


Tip: Mixing and matching outfits and layering saves a ton of space in your suitcase for packing! Make sure you check the predicted weather of the country you’re traveling to so you can dress appropriately. Don’t bring anything you’d be devastated to see ruined!

  • Athletic sneakers (1)
  • Bathing suits (1-2)
  • Belt (1)
  • Boots (1-2)
  • Bras (5-10)
  • Casual dresses (2)
  • Everyday shoes (1-2)
  • Flats (1)
  • Flip-flops (1)
  • Formal outfit (1-3)
  • Gloves (1, if weather appropriate)
  • Going-out outfit (3-5)
  • Hat (1)
  • Heavier coat for colder climates (1)
  • Heels (1-2)
  • Jacket (2; a light one and one for colder weather if applicable)
  • Jeans (2-5)
  • Jewelry (Remember that bringing jewelry to another country is always a risk; don’t bring anything too valuable)
  • Leggings (1-3)
  • Long-sleeve shirts (5-7)
  • Money belt (1)
  • Pajamas (2-5)
  • Purse (1-2)
  • Raincoat (1)
  • Scarf (1)
  • Short-sleeve shirts (5-7)
  • Shorts (2-4, if weather appropriate)
  • Skirts (1-2)
  • Socks (14)
  • Sports bras (1-5)
  • Sweaters (3-5)
  • Sweatshirt (1)
  • T-shirts (1-5)
  • Tank tops (1-5)
  • Underwear (14+)
  • Watch (1)
  • Workout clothes (1-5)


  • Alarm clock
  • Batteries
  • Camera
  • Camera case
  • Cell phone (Keep in mind you’ll probably be able to buy an international phone when you arrive at your destination)
  • Chargers (laptop, phone, camera etc.)
  • Flash drive
  • Headphones
  • Laptop
  • Laptop case
  • MP3 player
  • Outlet adapter
  • USB cable


Tip: Remember to check if the medications you take are legal in the country that you’re going to by contacting the country’s embassy. Some over-the-counter medications are illegal outside of the United States.

  • Adhesive bandages
  • Allergy medicine
  • Birth control
  • Cold and flu medicine
  • Eye drops
  • Motion sickness medicine
  • Over-the-counter pain medicine
  • Supplements
  • Throat drops
  • Vitamins


  • Backpack
  • Gift for your host family (Bring something that they couldn’t get in their own country, such as memorabilia from your hometown)
  • Journal
  • Language dictionary
  • Map
  • Notebook
  • Photos
  • Playing cards
  • Travel guide
  • Umbrella


As you pack for one of the most exciting trips of your life, remember to leave room in your suitcase, because chances are you’ll come home with not only great memories, but even better memorabilia as well. Safe travels, collegiettes! 

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