What to (not to) Pack for Studying Abroad

I can’t believe I am back in the United States! I already miss Rome so much, but I am happy to be home. It’s crazy how many little things I appreciate now that I am home–unlimited hot water, oatmeal for breakfast, peanut butter, and a clothing dryer. With my semester abroad (and my heavy suitcases) fresh in my mind, I thought I would share some packing tips I learned that I hope will be helpful to future study abroad students (you lucky ducks 😉 ).

Packing for Study Abroad | The Pace

image via Brit+Co



Passport Copies. It is super important to have your passport on you at all times when you are walking around a foreign city, but if you carry your actual passport, you run the risk of it getting taken from you if you were to be the unfortunate victim of pickpocketing. Easy solution: pack a few extra copies of your passport. The best part? These will take up about .01% of your suitcase.

Peanut butter and Ziplock bags. Ok so maybe you don’t consider these things essential, but some do. Make sure you do some research to find out what things are not sold in the country you are traveling to. For example, peanut butter is rarely sold in Rome and when it is, it’s the kind with a ton of added sugar (AKA not the kind I eat). Make sure you make some room in your suitcase for the essential items that your study abroad country does not sell.

Clothing for every place you plan to travel to. Planning a Spring Break trip to Barcelona? Heading up north for the weekend? Keep these climates in mind as you pack for your journey. Of course, you might want to go shopping while you are abroad, but you don’t want to have to rely on buying a whole new wardrobe for each of your travels.

Raincoat. I always wondered how Romans lived off of a diet of pasta, pizza, cheese, and gelato and still managed to stay slim. Now, I know the secret…lots and lots of walking. The amount of walking I did every day in Rome was amazing…rain or shine. A raincoat was a total lifesaver on those rainy days.

Clothing that makes you feel good 😉 I have always heard that Europeans go for the cool and casual vibe when dressing to go out, so when packing for this trip, I didn’t make “going out clothes” a priority. Turns out, I should have considered that aspect of my wardrobe a little bit more. Yes, it’s important to embrace the culture around you, but it’s also important to feel good when you go out at night (night life is a big part of the culture in Europe). I’m not advising you to pack your 6-inch stilettos (you will break an ankle on the cobblestones!!), but packing a few “going out” pieces that make you feel confident is definitely a good call.



Hairdryers, straighteners, and curling irons. The wattage used in Rome is much lower than in the U.S., so even if you bring converters and adapters, you will still run the risk of using too much energy. Energy in Rome is limited and is regulated by the government. If you use too much power at once, you will experience a black out (not fun, trust me). It’s much easier to keep your hairdryers and straighteners at home and just buy them when you arrive at your destination!

Heels. Cobblestones are a real danger and make walking in heels impossible. Instead, opt for heeled booties for a boost of height that doesn’t end in a broken ankle.

Back of the Closest Clothes. You know those clothes that you never choose when you’re getting ready in the morning, but you still keep them around because they were expensive, you got them as a gift, or you just really wish you could pull them off? These are the things you do not want taking up precious room in your suitcase. If it’s not good enough to wear around your hometown or college campus, I highly doubt you will want to wear it around a foreign country. Pack only the pieces of clothing that you like and you feel good in!

I hope these tips are helpful! Packing for a study abroad program is extremely overwhelming, so make sure you take some deep breaths, make some lists, and keep things in perspective. The experience you are about to embark on is so much more important than the clothing you will be wearing on it.

Do you have any packing tips to add?



5 thoughts on “What to (not to) Pack for Studying Abroad

  1. I traveled to London for a summer study abroad experience and some of the items that I found essential where comfortable shoes and a side purse. During my study abroad experience, I walked almost everywhere and I though I wanted to be extra fashionable with my cute shoes I realized that it was more about comfort than style. Also, my side purse made it easy for me to carry my camera and it allowed me to not have to hold onto something during tours.

    Though the packing can be torturous at times because everyone worries about what they may leave behind and end up needing away from home – it is always easier to just grab certain things when you get there.

    oxox, Lesh


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