What to Pack for Studying Abroad and what not to. As crucial as research is, it is equally important to pack properly before leaving.
First of all, make sure to check the website of the airline you are traveling with, so you know what your baggage restrictions are. Speaking in general, 50 pounds for a checked bag is a good rule of thumb, but it might also differ from airline to airline. Be sure to include your personal item and a carry-on. Add something like a label to make your luggage identifiable. Pack wisely and lightly without going overboard. Always keep in mind that you might have connection flights to board, and hence excess luggage is a strict no.
Do a little research on the time and weather of the city that you’ll be studying in so you can focus on bringing clothes that best suits the weather. It’s always better to carry a light waterproof jacket, as it is a good staple for most places. Even though you don’t have to give up on your personal style, consider the norms and culture that exist in the city you are heading to and make sure your clothing does not hurt the cultural norms of the natives. Being culturally respectful will help you in avoiding any sort of unwanted attention.
The thought of looking at those endless luggages moving around the conveyor belt, waiting for your own baggage, can bring nightmares even to a regular traveller. In order to avert such problems, it is always a good idea to label your entire luggage with your name, email address and telephone number inside and outside. Also make sure to write the name of the place where you intend to travel to. Note to pick up covered luggage tags to keep your information private and lock to keep thieves away.
For every international journey, there is a list of ‘must take’ items. So it is always a better idea to maintain a checklist of the items you should carry. Make sure to pack your essentials- passport, visa and enrolment letter, medical certificate, local currencies, medicines along with prescriptions etc. These things should all go into your carry bag. Pack some face wipes, gums, maks, hand sanitizer, travel pillow and itinerary. Also keep your mobile phone, chargers etc in the hand bag. Keep in mind to include mittens and caps if you are going to a colder country. It is always better to keep some currency of the host country.
Most countries have 220-volt electricity as the norm and many places in the world use electrical outlets that operate on a different plug, and that means that if your device isn’t equipped for dual-voltage, trying to plug it in might cause it to stop working, so pack a few plug adapters. Today most of the phone chargers and laptop chargers are equipped for this purpose while items like your hair dryers may not work. So if necessary make sure to bring along a voltage converter and physical adapters so your plugs well fit into the country’s standard outlets.
Depending on the length of your stay abroad, you might need to talk to your doctor about getting any important prescriptions in advance or ask your doctor for a letter explaining the medication’s purpose. Since shipping medication abroad is generally illegal, it's advised to carry a prescription along when you fly over in case there’s a problem. You can take your medicines either in your hand baggage as well as in your checked baggage. However it is always advisable to take it in your hand baggage for immediate access.
What about any health emergencies? It’s important to make sure that you have adequate health insurance before your trip. In case of any emergency you might also need supplemental insurance. Stay healthy and avoid raw foods, use bottled water, and keep washing your hands regularly. Also have a check on the Covid -19 situation of the destination you are travelling to. There can be different travel restrictions and quarantine requirements in different places. The best precaution prior to travelling is to get fully vaccinated and to make sure that you wear your masks in public places.
In the chaos of last minute packing, do not forget to carry your travel docs. You’ll definitely need your passport, visa (the Study Abroad office can help figure out if this is the case for you). Once you arrive, it is not advised to keep your passport on you daily because of the odds that you might lose it, but it’s always good to keep a photograph or document scanned and saved on your phone. In case of emergency, you might require a printed copy of the same. So to be on the safer side, keep a printed copy of all your travel documents too.
The Department of State’s official website offers country-specific information for every country of the world. Visa requirements, crime and security conditions and local laws are some of the other helpful information. You can also get information on what documents you need to travel from these government websites.
Obviously, you can’t bring your entire wardrobe, but packing things you can layer will help you mix up your outfits. It’s always advised to bring clothes that are versatile and will suit most climatic conditions. Better to go for clothes that you can wear, mix and match with multiple items and can be easily layered with weather change. A light jacket or cardigan might help extend the life of your clothing too! Most students also report that they end up purchasing items during their time abroad. Do consider this while you go for your luggage space assessment. Leave extra room in your suitcase for purchases you make abroad, and don’t pack something that you know you’re going to buy when you get there.