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study abroad 101: how to pack for weekend travel in ten minutes

I’m back!  And now that I’ve been abroad for an entire semester, I’m bringing my “Study Abroad 101” series back too!

Check out my previous posts in this series here:

  1. How to Choose a Study Abroad Program
  2. How to Budget While Studying Abroad
  3. How to Plan for Weekend Travel
  4. How to Pack for Studying Abroad

Today’s post is kind of a mix of parts 3 and 4, but I wanted to write about it separately because after taking quite a few weekend trips this semester, I feel confident in say that I’ve got weekend travel packing pretty much down to a science.  Weekend travel is a huge draw for students who are thinking about where they want to study abroad—but packing for it can seem challenging!

My biggest tip?  Never check a bag.  Seriously.  Not worth it.  For one thing, you’re bringing—at most—three days worth of clothes.  You really don’t need a checked bag for that.  Even more crucially, traveling on the weekends is allllll about maximizing the time you have in your destination—don’t waste that precious time waiting for your suitcase!

I received this bag as a birthday present specifically for weekend travel before the semester even started (read more about it in my packing post here) and I have to say it’s been an absolute lifesaver over the course of the semester.  I used it for the weekend trips I did but was also able to use it for my long study tour, travel week, and Thanksgiving break—trips that ranged from five to eight days.  If you pack smart, you can fit a lot in this small bag!  I’m pretty sure the most recent edition of the bag comes with backpack straps, which would make carrying it through airports and train stations a lot easier.

But now to the actual purpose of this post—the packing list!  Pretty early on into the semester I made a generic packing list to use for weekend trips, and I’m sharing it with you now!  I hope you find it helpful, wherever you may be going!

Clothes:

  • 1 pair of pants
  • Shirt for each day (for weekend trips; for longer trips, you can definitely get by with less)
  • Pajamas
  • Coat (depending on where you’re going.  Since most of my travel was in Northern Europe, this was a must towards the end of the semester!)
  • Raincoat or small umbrella (pack it and you might not need it, but when it starts suddenly downpouring in the middle of Dublin you’ll be glad you had it, definitely not at all like that happened to me)
  • Underwear and socks

Toiletries:

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Contacts and solution, if applicable
  • Deodorant
  • Makeup and makeup remover (I use makeup remover wipes, so as soon as I ran out of one pack at the beginning of the semester I saved the empty plastic container.  Then for every trip, I just put the amount of wipes I needed in that empty pack so I didn’t carry around unnecessary weight!)
  • Medication, if applicable

Important/Misc:

  • Passport and residence card/visa
  • Chargers
  • Adapters (if you’re studying in the UK and traveling to greater Europe or vice versa it’s especially crucial to make sure you’re bringing the right ones!)
  • Portable charger (hostels aren’t exactly known for their copious amounts of outlets, so my portable charger got my phone through more than one weekend trip)
  • Headphones
  • Wallet/cash (?) (I put a question mark by this because I actually didn’t take cash out for a single trip this semester.  Actually, I didn’t go to an ATM all semester.  No, really.  Benefits of everywhere accepting credit cards!  Obviously it depends on the country you’re visiting and whether or not you can get by without cash, but I would look into this to avoid having a pile of random and unusable foreign currency by the end of the semester)

There you go!  Hopefully this is helpful—if you have any questions, you know where to find me.  I’m playing catch up on blog posts from the end of the semester over the next few weeks, so stay tuned for more!

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