The Ultimate Study Abroad Packing Guide

Packing for Studying Abroad

Packing for any trip stresses me out, but when I’m packing for 6 months and multiple seasons..we’ll that’s on a whole other level of stress. I’ve learned that staying organized is the key to success in packing.

Before leaving to study abroad, like you, I was browsing the internet for a realistic packing list. I was determined to make sure that I wasn’t going to forget anything. As you have probably found, there are a range of posts on the internet from different blogs and university websites of what you need to pack. However, if you’re like me, packing enough clothes for 2 weeks for 6 months of travel isn’t going to happen, which is what most of those lists emphasized doing.

Below I’ve produced a list of necessities from my own experience of packing. Keep in mind I was traveling to Australia during the summer and heading home in the beginning of their winter. If you’re traveling to somewhere where it’s going to be cold a majority of the time, you might want to replace some items on the list with warmer items like tank tops and short-sleeved tops with long-sleeved tops or sweaters. You should also keep in mind, you’re going to want clothes for warmer days and cooler days regardless of where you’re traveling to, so it’s nice to have a good variety of clothes.

Lastly, you should keep in mind that you should adjust this list to your personal style! If you don’t wear dresses, don’t pack dresses! If you don’t workout, pack fewer workout clothes! You should tailor this list to your own personal style, but keep in mind, a variety of clothing is key to be able to create a lot of different outfits for different types of weather conditions!

Example of What to Wear on the Flight: 

  • leggings/ comfy pants
  • a short-sleeved top
  • hoodie/ sweater
  • Heavy jacket
  • blanket scarf
  • watch
  • thick socks
  • boots
Wearing your ‘bulkier’ items like your winter coat or boots can save you a lot of room in your luggage!

Carry on

I would recommend a backpack and small carry-on suitcase


I personally use the Little American Mid-Volume Backpack from Herschel and I find that it’s the perfect size for school and traveling!

  • Eye Mask
  • fuzzy socks
  • sunglasses
  • ear plugs
  • glasses/ pair of contacts & travel size solution
  • wallet (should include license, passport, health insurance card and $200-300 cash)
  • cell phone and charger
  • Gum
  • converter/ adaptor
  • laptop and charger
  • headphones
  • travel journal
  • a black pen and a pencil
  • empty water bottle (to fill up after security at the airport)
  • study abroad folder (important documents, visa, flight information/tickets should all be inside!)
  • Sleeping aid pills (if you choose to use these)
  • travel size ibuprofen
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Portable tissues
  • Planner
  • Camera and charger (if you’re bringing one, I didn’t)
  • Book/ Magazine/ Coloring book
  • Optional: outfit to change into once you get off the plane, especially if you’re going to be arriving in a warmer climate.

Carry-on suitcase: 

When packing my carry-on suitcase, two things that I focus on, is adding my heavier items to this bag, if I’m worried about my weight in my checked bags, but also pack with the idea that I would be able to live out of this suitcase for a couple days if my checked bags were to get lost.

  • 1 light jacket
  • 1 bathing suit
  • 1 belt
  • a pair of sneakers
  • 1 workout outfit
  • 1 pair of PJs or lounge clothes
  • 1 casual dress
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 pair of casual sandals or shoes
  • 1 skirt
  • 4-5 tops
  • 1 sweater
  • 1 long-sleeved top
  • 7 pairs of underwear
  • 2 bras
  • 5 pairs of socks
  • small cross body bag
  • jewelry
  • 1-2 pairs of shorts
  • a small beach towel (could be used as a shower towel if necessary as well!)

Toiletries for carry-on bags:

I would recommend putting full-size products you use every day like skin care, into travel size containers and check full-size items, since you can only have some many liquids to get through security.
  • travel size shampoo, conditioner, body wash (some airports have showers you can use after getting off your flight!)
  • skin care – face wash, toner, moisturizer, cotton pads, face mask etc.
  • Q-tips
  • small mirror
  • deodorant
  • hand/body lotion
  • dry shampoo
  • hair ties
  • nail file
  • hair brush/ hair products
  • makeup & brushes
  • any medicine you take
  • toothbrush and tooth paste (I recommend to have it in your backpack for easy access)
  • makeup remover wipes ( I use the Simple Cleansing Facial Wipes because they’re great for sensitive skin and you also don’t have to rinse your face with water after!)

Checked Bag:

Check with your airline to see what your luggage allowance is first! I was allowed 2 checked bags for my flight.
  • 1 lighter/ going out jacket (such as a leather jacket)
  • 2 workout outfits (one for warmer weather and one for cooler)
  • 1-2 bathing suits (depending where you’re going, may want to pack more or less)
  • 1 pair of PJs or lounge clothing
  • 2-3 casual dresses
  • 2 pairs of jeans (they should be different colors, for example, you should have a pair of dark washed in carry-on, black and light washed in your checked bag)
  • 1 pair dress shoes/ heels
  • 1 pair of tights
  • 1-2 formal/ going out outfit
  • 1-2 skirts
  • A blazer
  • 7-10 pairs of underwear
  • 5 pairs of socks
  • 1 purse/ bag that’s either different size or color to your one in your carry-on bag
  • 1-2 long-sleeved tops
  • 1-2 sweaters
  • 4-6 short-sleeved/ tank tops
  • 1-2 pairs of shorts
  • any pictures/ little decorations to make your new dorm or apartment feel like home!

Toiletries for a checked bag(s):

  • box of tampons/pads
  • hair tools/ heat protectant  (I don’t recommend bringing hair tools since they don’t always work with converters. I had to end up buying a hair curler in Australia because of this!)
  • spare makeup (do you have a favorite eye liner or foundation you know you’ll run out of while you’re there? Bring a spare!)
  • 1 Razor/ pack of razors/ travel size shaving cream
  • Bandaids
  • Nail Clippers
  • Nail Polish & Nail Polish Remover
  • Tums
  •  Allergy medicine
  • DayQuil/ NyQuil (check with your country to see if you’re allowed to bring medication over. I personally found comfort in having medication with me that I’ve taken before because incase I got sick and I was aware and familiar what I would be taking and how my body reacts)
  • Any other spare products that you religiously use and are unsure if you can buy them in your country abroad, (for me this was shampoo and skin care products).
With Tums and Bandaids you should have a few in your backpack or carry-on bag incase you need them for your travels and then keep the rest of the container in your checked bag.

As I mentioned before, you should use this post as a guide to how you could pack for studying abroad. Make sure to tailor it to your style, and add or subtract things as you see fit. Keep in mind, chances are you’re going to be bringing back souvenirs, clothing etc from your semester abroad, so leave room in your suitcase!

Did I forget anything on this list?! Make sure to comment down below if you have any other suggestions on what you should pack for studying abroad!

Study Abroad Packing

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