If you know anything about me, you know that packing lists are my jam. I make them for basically everything. So naturally, I made a packing list for studying abroad. And by “a” packing list, I actually mean I made approximately seven packing lists because I thought it would help but actually it didn’t and I maybe ended up crying on the floor of my bathroom deciding how many tubes of toothpaste to bring. (I’m bringing one).
As it turns out, making a making list for studying abroad for a semester was a whole different beast than making a packing list for a regular trip. I relied on a lot of past students’ blogs, DIS emails, and program alums to help me out. I also made a lot of stuff up as I went along! At the end of the semester, I’m going to do a recap of this blog post and talk about what items I used the most, what I wish I’d brought or didn’t bring, and more!
If you’re just interested in the packing list part of this post, scroll to the bottom of this page!
As I mentioned in my Study Abroad 101 guide to packing, I use packing cubes for pretty much everything. Within the cubes, I use a mixture of rolling and folding clothes to fit the maximum number of items in each one. For example, with this cube, I rolled my nicer short sleeve shirts into a layer on the bottom (pictured here) and then stacked my casual short and long sleeve shirts (think Comfort Colors shirts) on top.
I bought cute packing cubes from Amazon (these and these) but also supplemented those with some plain gray ones that I’ve had for a while now. The ones I bought from Amazon weren’t the greatest quality, but they get the job done and DO YOU SEE THOSE LITTLE CACTI.
Although I really tried to fit everything into only one suitcase, I caved and am using one large suitcase and one small, carry-on size suitcase that I’m going to check. This way I have a little extra room in both of them so when I inevitably purchase (lots of) things, I’ll have room to bring them home. I was able to fit all of my shoes, all of my outerwear (in a packing cube), and a few miscellaneous things (some socks, my laundry bag, etc) in my small suitcase, while the rest of my clothes and toiletries are going in my large suitcase. With (almost) everything inside, my large suitcase looked like this:
Not everything went in packing cubes—it didn’t make sense to take up one whole packing cube with two bulky sweaters, so instead I spread those out underneath the packing cubes on the right. However, almost everything else is in some type of cube, pouch, or bag. This way, if something spills (like hair oil, speaking from experience) it’s less likely to ruin other things in your bag. It also makes packing and unpacking a breeze; for weekend trips, I found that one small packing cube fits perfectly inside my backpack, which means that all of the clothes I want for the weekend I just fit into one packing cube and slide it right in! Works every time. Third, having everything self-contained is great if you get to airport check-in and your bag is too heavy and you have to take some things out and you open your suitcase and half your underwear spills out onto the airport floor. I really wish I wasn’t speaking from experience here.
Along with these two suitcases, I’m bringing one backpack and a large purse as my carry-on items. Inside my suitcase I also have a small duffel bag that I plan to use for my study tour travels (or any travels where I’m gone for longer than a weekend), a foldable, stuffable daypack for any hiking/adventuring I do as well as the two DIScovery trips I’m doing, and a small purse that just holds the essentials.
Note: For most items other than clothes or toiletries, I’ve tried to link the exact items I’m bringing wherever possible! If you’d like to know the exact type of item that I brought if it isn’t linked (like clothes), feel free to shoot me a message under the “contact” link on my main menu and I’ll be happy to answer!
- Pleasure reading – I’m bringing two books along with a ton of audiobooks!
- Travel pillow + travel sheet – The pillow is a blow-up one that I plan to use on the plane, and the sheet (technically a sleeping bag liner) is for any questionable hostel beds I come upon
- Passport, credit cards, driver’s license, student ID, etc.
- Printed itinerary, housing directions, pre-departure handbook, etc
- Journal – I use a 5 lines a day journal that I’m on my fourth year of—writing in it is the only New Year’s Resolution I’ve ever kept!
- Notebook & folder
- Water bottle
- Room decor – A few Minnesota-themed items (did you really think I wouldn’t??) and some pictures of friends and family
- Small gift for my visiting family – I signed up for the DIS Visiting Host Program and wanted to bring just a small, local (i.e. Minnesota-themed) gift as a thank you to them!
- Pain relievers + small first aid kit (just some BandAids, bacitracin, cough drops)
- Cell phone + charger
- Old cell phone + charger – I’m bringing an old phone of mine to use with my Danish SIM card (through the DIS arrangement with TDC) since it was the cheapest option
- Apple watch + charger
- Laptop + charger
- Camera + charger + accessories, like extra memory cards
- External hard drive – I don’t want to go a whole semester without backing up my computer!
- Bras/bralettes/sports bras
- Socks – I’m bringing a mix of low socks to wear with my tennis shoes (see below), boot socks, and SmartWool socks
- Professional outfit x1 – In case I do any site visits with my classes that require them
- Thick sweaters x3
- Nicer short sleeve shirts x5
- Nicer long sleeve shirts x8
- Casual shirts x6 – A mix of short- and long-sleeved (mainly Comfort Colors) shirts for casual wear and for my DIScovery trips
- Dresses x3
- Pants x4 – Three pairs of jeans and a pair of (cuter than they sound) cargo pants
- Sweatshirts x4 – A Patagonia pullover, a zip-up sweatshirt, and my ADPi Wooly along with a thin sweatshirt I’m wearing on the plane
- Swimsuit – My Arctic Excursion DIScovery trip may involve a sauna, so I wanted to be prepared!
- Exercise clothes – Some leggings and two pairs of Nike shorts
- Outerwear – My jean jacket, winter coat, hat, and gloves
- Rainboots – Sort of similar to these but in green; I’ve had them for years
- Black booties
- Adidas burgundy tennis shoes
- Exercise shoes
- Black flats
- Earrings x3 – The studs I always wear, plus a pair of pearl studs and some silver hoops for dressier occasions
- Necklaces x4 – A casual choker, a long gold Madewell necklace, and two beaded wrap necklaces from Altar’d State
- Toothbrush + toothpaste
- Travel size shampoo + conditioner – I’m going to buy regular sizes once I get there, but I wanted some for the first few days plus some small bottles for travel
- Brush, styling products like hair oil, and hair accessories (bobby pins, hair binders, etc)
- Face wash + moisturizer
- Contacts + solution
- Makeup + makeup remover
- Feminine hygiene
Hopefully you found this helpful, or at least entertaining if nothing else. Maybe I’m the only person who finds reading other people’s packing lists entertaining? Let me know if you have any questions—either leave a comment below or send me a message using the “contact” tab above!