Don’t Study Abroad Naked, Use This Packing List

Guest post by Jessica Dante of The Abroad Guide.

In my opinion, the toughest part about studying abroad was not the extra work I had to put in to get accepted to my dream program, or having to work full time for the entire summer before I went abroad. It was the packing!

Two days before I was leaving for Belgium, I was staring at my empty suitcases and realized that I had no idea what to pack.

After a semester abroad and a year of working with study abroad students in Italy, I’ve been able to compile a comprehensive study abroad packing list for all of you future abroad-ers.

The most important thing to remember when packing for study abroad is that you don’t need to bring everything. Your study abroad destination will have stores and supermarkets. If you forget to pack something, you should be able to find it fairly easily.


  • Underwear
  • Casual tops
  • Dressy tops
  • Casual bottoms
  • Dressy bottoms
  • Socks
  • Dress shoes (some clubs won’t allow tennis shoes or flats)
  • Comfortable shoes for walking and sightseeing
  • Old flip flops for shower shoes
  • Swimsuit
  • Workout clothes and sneakers
  • One pair of sweats or PJs for lazy days around your apartment
  • Warm jacket (depending on when and where you’re studying)

Study abroad shopping


  • Scarves, gloves, and other cold weather gear (depending on when and where you’re studying)
  • Cross body purse (to prevent theft)
  • Any other accessories you usually wear– belts, hats, etc.


Leave most of your toiletries at home and purchase them when you’re abroad, unless you have specific brands that you must use. Bring sample sizes for your first couple of days, then hit a local supermarket for the rest. Watch this video if you’re still wondering how to pack toiletries.

  • Refillable 3 oz liquid bottles [Editor’s Note: We recommend GoToobs.]
  • Feminine products and contraceptives
  • Over-the-counter drugs like Tylenol, Midol, etc.
  • Enough of your prescribed medications to last through the semester


International power adapters

  • Laptop and case
  • Smartphone or iPod with headphones
  • Camera
  • E-reader
  • At least two power adapters
  • Portable hard drive – For your movies from home and to back up all of your photos and schoolwork

What You Won’t Need

  • Flip flops or Uggs. Just don’t.
  • Flat iron or any heated hair products – They may not work unless they are dual voltage.
  • Stillettos – They’ll get ruined by the dirt and cobblestone streets.
  • Multiple books – Just opt for an e-reader or buy some abroad. Don’t waste the valuable space!
  • Any clothing you haven’t worn recently. Plan on underpacking your clothing because you’re bound to do some shopping during your time abroad.

Is there anything else that you plan on bringing to your study abroad destination? Do you want to bring something but you’re not sure if you’ll need it? Ask in the comments and we’ll help you out!

Editor’s Note: When you’re headed abroad for a week, a semester, or a year, you’ll need luggage that’s ready for an adventure. Find out how to bring everything you need without checking a bag using the Tortuga Travel Backpack, the ultimate study abroad backpack.

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