The Best Abroad Packing List
Although it is tempting to bring your entire wardrobe abroad, there is a serious space issue. Firstly, there are only so many suitcases you can take with you on the plane. Secondly, many of the hotels, apartments, and taxis abroad are relatively small, and there is not enough space for all your clothes in addition to numerous suitcases. Thirdly, there are most certainly some items that you will not need, nor will you want, to bring and you will likely do a lot of shopping so leave some room in your suitcase as well. To ensure you have the right, and fashionable, wardrobe for your trip outside of the United States, follow this abroad packing list.
1. Walking Shoes
Go get yourself a good pair of walking shoes. Nowadays, tennis shoes are much more fashionable but still comfortable, so there’s no excuse to not wear good walking shoes. Ditch the sandals with zero support or the cute pair of flip flops that rub after a long time. In most places, you will be doing a lot of walking, so comfy walking shoes are a must. Also, leave the heels at home; the uneven roads and cobblestones of many of these cities – like Rome – will attack and leave you with a few bruises, or a few broken bones.
2. Sweaters, Cardigans, and Jackets (oh my!)
Regardless if it is fall, winter, spring, or summer, a sweater, cardigan or light jacket is a must. Firstly, many of the museums or restaurants are either air conditioned too well, or not heated well enough. In addition, churches and other religious establishments do not allow shoulders to show, and your bottoms must be an appropriate length. By tying a cardigan or sweater around your waist, you always have a fashionable just-in-case extra for when it gets cold, or when you need to cover up.
3. Raincoat & Umbrella
The weather anywhere is always unpredictable, and because you are in a foreign country, you can’t simply run back to your house or into a CVS to grab a raincoat and umbrella. These two items are essential to bring with you while traveling abroad. Make sure to get a raincoat that is compact, can fold into itself to make a little pouch and is quick drying. The umbrella should be small enough to fit it in your bag and save that handy, but annoying, sleeve for when your umbrella gets wet and you get tired of holding it and want to put it back.
If this is your first time abroad, you have probably heard all of the horror stories of people’s items being stolen. After spending a few months aboard, I can tell you that theft is almost always avoidable, as long as you are smart. Don’t pull out your cell phone all the time, don’t have it constantly in your hand, and don’t put it in your pocket. If you have your wallet in your pocket, put your hand around it. If you have a bag, make sure it is a cross body that you have your hand over at all times. Some people in my study abroad program had passport belts that went under their clothing when they traveled to keep their most important personal items close to them. Although this isn’t the most fashionable piece, it is very safe and functional. Backpacks are not the best idea – unless you put it on your chest instead of your back – as it provides easy access to your belongings, especially without your knowledge. It is important to keep an eye, and hand, on all of your belongings especially at airports, train stations, on public transportation, and on the streets. By choosing the right bag – and by being smart – your belongings will stay safe and sound in your possession.
5. Workout Gear (ONLY!)
Workout gear is great to bring abroad, but only if you are wearing it at the gym. Although athleisure – or wearing workout clothes for every day, leisurely activities – is currently very trendy in America, it is a fashion faux-pas aboard. Make sure you are dressing to impress wherever you travel, and always follow local customs and cultures by dressing appropriately.
6. Universal Adaptors
One of the life-saving items I brought with me abroad was a universal outlet adaptor. Because I traveled almost every weekend, I encountered many different outlets, and this adaptor worked for every place I went. It also provides as a surge protector, which is extremely helpful for places with different electricity currents. If the universal adaptor is not meant for the place to where you are traveling, Google the name of your destination and “adaptor”, and you should be all set.
A lock is incredibly handy, especially when staying in hostels where they provide you with lockers to place your belongings while you go out and explore. I usually kept two locks with me while I traveled. One was for the lockers in the hostel, and the other was for my bag just in case I had to check out of the hostel early and needed to give my belongings to the front desk, or if I was using public transportation.
A journal is a very important item to bring abroad. Write down your memories, your itineraries, what you learned, and what you saw after every day. Save your tickets, pictures, and anything else you come across, to put into your journal later. Although it may seem tedious and a waste of time, your future self will thank you for preserving the memories of your travels abroad.
9. Reusable Water Bottle
A reusable water bottle saved my life when I was abroad. In many European restaurants, the water is not free so you can not really quench your thirst while dining. Therefore, I always brought a water bottle with me while I was out just in case I got thirsty while sight seeing, shopping, or visiting museums and monuments. In Rome, there are water fountains scattered around the city where the water is cool and refreshing and a water bottle was very useful. Invest in a collapsible bottle to easily store in your bag while not in use.
10. Portable, Rechargeable Battery
A portable, rechargeable battery is a game changer not only in general but especially abroad. You never know when you will run out of juice, which usually happens when you need your phone the most. Outside of Italy, while I was studying abroad, I did not have cell service and relied on the Internet to get me through. As a result, my phone was constantly dying but my reliable battery pack always got me through to another outlet. (Plus, they make really cute ones, which are an accessory on their own!)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jolie Blair is a rising senior at Emory University from Sun Valley, Idaho. She is double majoring in Theater Studies and Public Health and has a passion for the arts, writing, and traveling. She studied abroad for the 2016 fall semester in Rome, Italy and had an experience of a lifetime, which she loves to share with those who want to listen (and even those who don’t like her 140lb Great Dane!).