The Ultimate Guide to Your Study Abroad Packing List (10 Essential Items!)

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College Study Abroad

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Packing your life into a few bags for an adventure abroad can feel overwhelming, especially since you’re packing for the next several weeks (or even months) ahead. Don’t worry, though; we’ve got your study abroad packing list covered! 

Whether you're looking for a packing list for overseas travels, a list of study abroad essentials, or general advice on how to prepare to study abroad, you've come to the right place! Packing for your study abroad adventure will be a breeze if you include our list of essential items in your luggage.  

We recommend you include the following items in your study abroad packing list:

  1. Passport

  2. Requisite Visa

  3. Power Adapters and Converters

  4. Prescription Medicine

  5. Currency

  6. Comfortable Walking Shoes

  7. Essential Travel-sized Toiletries

  8. School Supplies

  9. Face Masks

  10. A Large Suitcase

packing list study abroad

Item 1: A Passport 

Your passport is the ticket to your dream study abroad destination. Don’t forget it and certainly don’t lose it. Actually, it’s a good idea to make a photocopy of your passport just in case the original gets lost or stolen.  

Tip: If you do lose your passport, the U.S. consulate can help you get a new one, but photocopies of the original make the process much easier. 

study abroad passport and photo copy

Item 2: Requisite Visa 

You may need a visa, too, depending on the country you’re visiting. As with your passport, it’s a really good idea to have a photocopy of your original visa in case something happens. Better safe than sorry! 

Item 3: Power Adapters and Converters 

Each country has its own kind of power outlet and adapter, and there’s a good chance your home chargers won’t work. With most essential items (phones, laptops, etc.) being electronic, you don’t want to run out of power!  

Verify which plugs and voltage are used in the country (or countries) you’ll be visiting, and purchase the necessary adapters and/or converters in advance of your trip so you don’t risk running out of power. Being without Google Maps in a new country? No thank you! Powered-up tech is a critical study abroad essential. 

Item 4: Prescription Medications 

If you take prescription medications, make sure you have enough with you to cover the length of your trip. Most doctors will be able to help you get the amount you need.  

If there’s a chance you run out while abroad, be sure to have a copy of your prescription to show local doctors. Also, remember to pack any medication in your carry-on, just in case your luggage gets delayed or lost in transit. 

Item 5: Currency 

Nowadays, many U.S. banks make it easy to convert to foreign currencies with a credit or debit card. Still, it’s always a good idea to carry petty cash with you in the event of an emergency. You can never be too prepared! 

foreign currency exchange for students on study abroad

Item 6: Comfortable Walking Shoes 

Traveling to a new city means you’ll be doing lots of walking! Wherever you go, you’ll likely be spending the majority of your time commuting or exploring on foot, so be sure to invest in high-quality walking shoes that can withstand all-day wear and tear. Aim for comfort and avoid flip flops (trust us on this). 


Item 7: Essential (Travel-Size) Toiletries  

Some toiletries are more essential than others. While you can probably buy most essentials in the country you’re traveling to, it’s best to have some with you so you don’t have to worry about the basics, like shampoo, soap, and toothpaste to cover you during your first few days abroad.  

Tip: Stick to travel-size toiletries. Large bottles of your favorite shampoo will take up too much real estate in your suitcase. Save that precious space for the souvenirs you’ll want to bring home with you.  

Item 8: Your School Supplies 

Most students take notes on laptops or tablets, but we advise you still bring an extra notebook and pencil or pen just in case. Or, if you do like taking notes by hand, be sure to bring your favorite school supplies with you!  

Though foreign countries will have these on hand, it’s easier  and sometimes cheaper to bring them with you. Adding a few traditional school supplies to your study abroad packing checklist now means you’ll save your spending money for the fun stuff later. 

study abroad student with her backpack on the bus in spain

Item 9: Face Masks 

Travel is back on, but COVID has not yet backed down completely. Check the mask mandates of the countries you’ll be visiting. Even if masks aren’t required, it’s always a good idea to bring a few with you just in case. The same goes for hand sanitizer. No one wants to spend their study abroad sick. Stay healthy! 

Check out CIEE’s Health, Safety & Security Page for more information! 

Item 10: A Large Suitcase 

We hinted at this earlier, but bring a suitcase with extra room (make that extra, extra room). Or, consider bringing an empty suitcase. No doubt, you will find more than a few treasures you’ll want to buy and bring home with you. Make sure you have the space to accommodate souvenirs! 

Bonus Tip: Your CIEE Study Abroad Program Contacts 

Last but not least, make sure you have quick access to all your program contacts, including names, numbers, and the street address of your CIEE study center. It’s often helpful to keep your street address written in the local language for taxis or in case you get lost. We recommend having this information stored in your phone and on a hard copy somewhere. 

Ready To Pack For Your Study Abroad Program?

We hope you find these study abroad packing tips helpful! Now that you know what to bring, start exploring all of our exciting study abroad and internship programs and choose the one right for you!