For some of you this may prove to be the most difficult feat, before heading off to study abroad.  How can I fit everything I want to bring into a few bags?  The answer is. . . .You cannot!  So don’t let it stress you out. 

Here are some helpful tips to assist you with packing for your study abroad semester. 

  • Most airlines allow a 50-pound bag to be checked for free when flying internationally. Some have greater allowances; check on your airline’s website
  • Know the weather you will be encountering and bring comfortable clothes that are suitable for the climate
  • Consider what is culturally appropriate to wear
  • Avoid bringing bulky clothing or things you think you will only wear once or twice
  • You will need both a converter and an adapter in order to use American electrical appliances abroad; one to convert the electrical current and one to adapt the plug.  Sometimes it can be easier to buy appliances abroad, such as a curling iron, hair dryer or straightener.  Remember ladies, there are other women in your situation; you might want to hold off on bringing appliances.  They may be available at your housing, someone you will be living with may be bringing these same appliances, and you could always split the cost, buy, and share these appliances with a roommate once you arrive.  This should be something that you sort out before you leave, especially if you have the contact information of the person you will be living with abroad.
  • It is always best to pack light and leave room in your suitcase for your return home.  Remember the clothes you wear to the airport will have to fit in your suitcase when you return home, in addition to what you acquire while abroad. 
  • Plan on buying a few articles of clothing while you are there; so pack a few less shirts, not so many pants, and leave those extra shoes at home.
  • It is important that you are able to comfortably walk around with your entire luggage.  If you cannot, you are packing too much stuff! How are you getting from the airport to your housing? Consider how much you can truly carry yourself throughout your journey.
  • Lay out all of your clothes and try to eliminate things from what you have packed.  Leave everything laid out, come back in a few hours or the next day and try to eliminate a few more things.  Repeat this process a few times, keeping in mind, ESSENTIALS!  
  • Do not pack or bring clothing with offensive language or images on it, or anything that could be viewed as being inappropriate.  It is important to be conscience of the fact that other countries have stereotypes of Americans.  By dressing a certain way, people may have certain assumptions about you, based on your attire (think baseball caps, sneakers, sports teams apparel, college apparel, sweat pants).

Laptop bags

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has some specifications which laptop bags must meet in order to be allowed through the checkpoint. In order to help the TSA officers have an unobstructed view of a laptop as it goes through an X-ray machine, laptop bags should give a clear view of the laptop they contain. In order to meet this requirement, the laptop bag must have a section that is strictly for the laptop which can be laid flat on the X-ray belt. This section should be free of distractions in the form of metal snaps and zippers on or under the laptop. There are three styles of laptop bags which the TSA approves of, the butterfly style, the trifold style and the sleeve style. Do not pack anything other than the laptop inside the laptop section and make sure that there are no pockets under or on top of the laptop section. If you have a different style of laptop bag, you will have to remove your computer and have it scanned separately.


TSA regulations restrict each passenger to just one carry-on bag and one personal item (such as a purse or laptop bag) when boarding an aircraft. The items in these bags will be searched for any prohibited items. This is especially true for liquids. To make things easier for passengers, TSA has a method known as 3-1-1. The 3-1-1 rule simply means that all liquids, gels and aerosols have to be in 3.4 oz. or smaller containers, one clear plastic zip-top bag not more than 1 quart and one bag per passenger. Any liquid exceeding the stated amount has to be put into the checked baggage. There are exceptions for certain medication, breast milk and baby formula which must be in reasonable quantities and have to be declared for inspection.


The weight of luggage which a passenger is allowed to carry is determined by the policies of the particular airline. It is best to call the airline or travel agent to find out how much they allow their passengers to carry. Most airlines require bags to weigh under 50 lbs. or they will charge you an overweight baggage fee.

1 Comment

One thought on “Packing

  1. Danielle Couture

    Being a girl, I was set on the fact that there was no way I could fit all my stuff into two suitcases, therefore I brought three, plus a carry on. Two words: Bad Idea. I somehow managed to hook two of the suitcases together and was able to drag them all along but still, it was extremely difficult, they tipped over every so often and I had to set them all up again. Not to mention, I had to pay a LOT of money for every extra suitcase. After being there i realized there was so much stuff I wasn’t ever going to use. I would suggest to pack everything, leave it a day, then come back to it and take out things you don’t NEED, then repeat, two or three more times as a filtering process. Plus, take weather into account. I brought way more summer clothes than i needed to and it was only really warm for the first three weeks I was in England. Things you don’t need to bring are products such as shampoo, conditioner, soap or anything cheap enough to be bought there. Make sure you use space bags…THEY ARE LIFE SAVERS!

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