Now that I’ve spent some time abroad and others are just starting their study abroad journey, I’d like to make more frequent posts (once a week or so) about how I manage it all, starting with travel essentials. Plus, I needed a reason to take a break from studying.
At the beginning of the term, I determined what I would need for a typical weekend away and wrote it up so I wouldn’t forget each time I travel. That list has been modified several times since then and this is (more or less) my go-to packing list:
- Clothes: I will usually bring only one or two pairs of pants and surplus shirts, cardigans, light jackets and an extra pair of shoes so I can mix and match and layer up.
- Toiletries: These items vary from person to person, so I won’t make a definite list of must-haves, that’s up for you to decide. However, I put the liquids in a separate bag in an easy to access place in my suitcase so I can make it through security with as little hassle as possible. Keep in mind that some airports might consider and some toothpaste, lip balm and make-up products “liquids.” Be sure to include nail clippers, tissues and small amounts of medicine like aspirin and painkillers.
- Documents, passes, identification: Passport, any documents required by your visa, public transportation pass(es) you need for local transit that gets you to the airport, etc. I know I’m too busy worrying about not forgetting my passport I’ll often nearly forget to pack my railcard.
- Electronics: Any appropriate chargers, batteries, converters, adapters, etc. you will need to keep you powered up. You also might want to consider a portable charger for on-the-go charging.
- Seasonal clothes and accessories: A light windbreaker is a must pretty much everywhere I go. It’s easy to pack and it’s practical for a lot of weather conditions. However, consider your destination and pack accordingly. From hats and scarves to swimsuits and sunglasses, make sure you’re well prepared for the weather, nothing ruins a trip like uncomfortable. If you’re running out of space in your suitcase with all those thick winter clothes, wear your coat to the airport. I also find packing a portable umbrella could never hurt, but most times I’ll get to a another country and realize not everywhere is as miserable as England.
- Hostel necessities: While you don’t need these in conventional hotels, budget travelers staying in hostels might consider a padlock (many hostels provide lockers for safekeeping provided you bring or rent a lock), ear plugs (you’ll undoubtedly encounter at least one snorer, if you don’t, odds are you’re the snorer), and a travel towel and hairdryer (if the hostel doesn’t already provide them).
And here are some things you probably didn’t think about (I know I didn’t):
- Reusable water bottle: Obviously, you can’t fill it up until after airport security, but it’s practical to bring your own reusable water bottle so you don’t have to spend money on water at the airport or otherwise. Plus, you can solve the space-consuming problem but stuffing smaller items of clothing in the empty water bottle.
- Plastic bag: Whether it’s for trash or wet or dirty clothes, having a plastic bag or two and even a few Ziploc sandwich bags on your trip is always a good idea.
- Low quality purse: On travel, your purse may get rained on, accidentally set in dirt, or otherwise beat up. It’s wise to buy a low quality purse to bring on such travels. I really like crossbody tote bags; they’re spacious and easy to walk around with and many have pockets on the inside where you can easily store a phone, camera, etc. Be sure to get one that closes properly to reduce your chances of getting pick-pocketed.
I hope this helps, happy trails!