A Guide to Packing When Studying Abroad

Authored by:
Kim F.

Hi guys, my name is Kim and I am 16 years old! I'm currently studying abroad in Australia and have been here two months out of six! I'm experiencing this amazing opportunity with CIEE's High School Study Abroad program. I currently reside in Mackay, Queensland, which is right next to the Great Barrier Reef!

Packing is scary, but necessary, so here are some tips that I came up with using my experience of packing!

*Please note that all of the information that I'm sharing with you is all of my personal experiences, and each person's experience is different. I never really saw any tips and tricks on how to pack for students studying abroad so I wanted to share this post with you!

When I was packing, I had no clue how to do it or what to bring. I ended up saving packing two nights before my departure, which surprisingly wasn't too difficult. The one challenge I did come across was all of my itineraries said I was allowed two checked bags, but then was informed I should only bring one, seeing as carrying two checked bags, a carry on, and a personal item might be a bit too much to handle for one person. This messed up my whole original packing scheme because I was packing for two checked bags, so all of my stuff that I was going to "need" for six months had to be squished into one checked bag. 

While it may seem like space would be the first issue when packing, it's actually the weight of the bag that poses more of a threat. If I really needed to, I could stuff a whole bunch more things into by bag, but it was the weight that stopped me from packing more. If you go over the weight limit, or even get close to it, your bag is tagged as "heavy" and usually officials go through it (which is a pain). If you are over the weight limit you will be charged around a $150 overweight fee, so don't think you can sneak your way through!

Tip: Pick and choose the things you definitely need, and choose lighter items over heavier ones. I learned the hard way that any kind of liquids (like face soap, cleanser, shampoo) are very heavy, so if possible, try to buy them when you get to your destination instead of putting them in your checked bag. Even if you think your deodorant brand isn't sold over in the country you're traveling to, that might have to be a sacrifice you make when packing.

Take note that spray cans will most likely be taken out of any of your bags. I think the reason they take these out is because if the spray can explodes in your bag, it could potentially make other things explode as well. In my case, I packed a small travel size dry shampoo, but when my the officials went through my bag, they took it out.

Tip: Leave any hair spray, dry shampoo, spray deodorant, etc. at home.

For Australia in particular I knew it would be hot here, but I didn't realize how hot it got. Even though the weather is hot, remember that your body will climatize and get used to it. Also if you travel here during the winter time, it does get chilly in the nights and in the mornings, so it's wise to pack something that will keep you warm during those times, if you are someone who gets cold easily.

Tip: Remember to bring lots of close for hot weather like shorts, t-shirts/tank tops, etc. Also maybe bring one pair of jeans/long pants, a long sleeve shirt, and definitely a sweatshirt.

Personally, I didn't start packing until a few days before I left and I could manage well, but it's always wise at least think about what you're brining as the departure date gets closer. 

Tip: Create a list somewhere, whether it'd be on your phone or on paper, make a list of things that you might forget.

I, personally, have contact lenses and have prescription medication, so I had to make sure I was prepared for the time I was away. I called my pharmacy to get the right amount of medication that would last me the six months I'm here and also ordered enough contacts so I wouldn't run out.

Tip: Think of all the items you need that you will not have access to in the country you are going to and pack yourself enough to last you. Make sure to give yourself time to do this just in case you need to order something or wait until you have access to it. 

Maybe some of these tips helped you, and maybe none of them did, but just remember to give yourself a little big of time to pack, and even though it's a daunting task, it's completely necessary and if done carelessly, you might find yourself in your host country without your essentials!

Studying abroad is an amazing experience and I hope that we can make the best out of any travel experience we have the privilege of doing.

Until next time!

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