Study abroad packing list

When it comes to packing for study abroad, you’ll have to think about it a bit differently than your usual holiday packing list.

Remember that for things such as toiletries and stationery you can always buy more when you get there, but you'll probably want enough to get you started while you figure your way around the campus or town.

Study abroad essentials

There are a few things that you have to remember to pack regardless of where or what you’re studying:

  • Passport
  • Visa and university documents
  • Travel tickets
  • Everyday toiletries
  • Prescribed medication (and take a copy of the prescription)
  • Local currency
  • Power adapter
  • Laptop
  • Phone
  • Any cables for charging electronics
  • Headphones
  • Sunglasses
  • Two weeks worth of clothes
  • A smart outfit
  • Versatile shoes

It’s also useful when you’re packing to think about what you’ll be doing when you’re an international student, and what you’ll need at specific times:

Program materials

Your particular course may require specific materials that you can only acquire when you’re at university. However, there are a few things you may want to take with you if you own them already to save buying everything there:

  • Any relevant books or dictionaries you may already own
  • Basic stationery
  • Notebooks
  • Rucksack

Sports and hobbies

The opportunity for extracurricular activities at university is endless, so if there’s a sport or activity you enjoy, make the most of it and get involved — and don’t forget to pack for it:

  • Sports equipment
  • Sports shoes
  • Active wear
  • Reusable water bottle

Exploring

You’ll probably want to experience more of the country you’re studying in than just the campus you’re on. Whether you go exploring by plane, train or car make sure you’re properly kitted out:

  • Camera
  • Comfy walking shoes
  • Comfy travel outfit

Only pack for where you’re studying

Your study abroad country and city should have the biggest impact on what you need to pack. You can’t and won’t be able to take everything you might need, so simply consider where in the world you’re going and how the climate or culture will affect your clothing choices:

Climate

If the country is warmer you’ll probably only need a light coat or rain jacket which can save space and weight in your luggage. If you’re going to a colder climate, your best option for less bulky luggage is to pack one warm coat or ski jacket, then layer underneath for warmth.

Don’t forget that the country you’re headed to may be experiencing a different season to the one you’re in, and even then the weather may be very different. It’s important to do some research on weather month by month, and decide how best to cover the basics.

If you’re going to a country known for its mosquitoes or insects, you should consider these in your packing too. Long sleeve tops and trousers will be necessary but they’ll also need to be light and cool.

Culture

The country you’re going to study in may have a different culture to the one you’re used to and there may be a consensus within the community that clothing showing certain parts of your body is inappropriate or disrespectful.

In order to respect the local culture ensure you pack with this in mind. Your university should be able to provide you with specific cultural information that you need to be aware of. Read our tips on how to deal with culture shock when studying abroad.

Forgetting to pack something

It’s likely that anything you do forget to pack will be easily replaceable if you need it, or you could even see if a family member or friend can send you something over by post. The main thing you need to remember when packing are the items you need straight away and will be expensive to buy again.

When you pack, do it a couple of times: taking your belongings out and repacking them is a good way to tell if you’re missing something critical, or have got something in there you just don’t need. This also means you won’t be tempted to leave packing until the last minute.