As crucial as research is, it is equally important to pack properly before leaving. Packing light is best to ensure ease of movement through airports and to minimize the risk of lost luggage.
First of all, make sure to check the website of the airline you are traveling with, so you know what your baggage restrictions are. Generally speaking, 50 pounds for a checked bag is a good rule of thumb, but some international airlines may have different regulations. Be sure to check if a personal item and a carry-on are included. Add something like a label to make your luggage identifiable.
Make sure to do a little research about the time of the year and typical weather of the city in which you’ll be studying, and focus on bringing clothing you can layer if the weather will change while you are there. A light, waterproof jacket is a good staple for most places. Also, be sure to consider if the city to which you’re headed has any cultural norms about modesty that might make your clothing stand out. You don’t have to give up your personal style, but you also should consider how to be culturally respectful and careful about avoiding unwanted attention.
Before you leave, label all luggage with your name, address, and telephone numbers inside and outside. Pick up covered luggage tags to keep your information private and locks to keep thieves out.
Keep your passport, medical certificate, visa and enrolment letter handy. Once you get your boarding pass, keep that safe in your carry bag. Also keep some currency of the host country. A book or an e-reader for the journey along with your headphones should do the trick. Pack some face wipes, gum, hand sanitizer, travel pillow and itinerary. Keep in mind to include mittens and cap if you are going to a colder 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. Most phone chargers and laptop charges today are equipped for this, but items like hair dryers may not be. Make sure to bring voltage converters if necessary and physical adapters so that your plugs will fit into the country’s standard outlets, or be prepared to buy a new dryer in-country.
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. It’s important to remember that shipping medication abroad is generally illegal, but you can take prescriptions with you when you fly over in case there’s a problem.
What about any health emergencies? Before your trip, make sure you have adequate health insurance. You may need supplemental insurance in case of an emergency. Stay healthy by avoiding raw foods, using bottled water only, and washing your hands regularly. There are U.S. consular officers located at over 260 Foreign Service posts abroad. If you need assistance, these are the people to turn to.
It’s surprisingly easy to leave them out at the last minute in the chaos of packing. Depending on your programme location and length, you’ll definitely need your passport, but you may also need a visa (the Study Abroad office can help figure out if this is the case for you). Once you arrive, we don’t recommend keeping your passport on you daily because of the odds that you might lose it, but it’s a good idea to keep a scanned copy of it saved on your phone or printed in the event of an emergency
The Department of State’s official website offers country-specific information for every country of the world. Other helpful information includes visa requirements, crime and security conditions and local laws.
Obviously, you can’t bring your entire wardrobe, but packing things you can layer will help you mix up your outfits. So it’s important to think about bringing clothing items that are versatile. Think about neutral items that you can mix and match to make multiple outfits or that can be easily layered as weather changes. A light jacket or cardigan depending on the location climate might help extend the life of your clothing too! Most students also report that they end up purchasing items during their time abroad, so be sure to factor that into 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.