10 Essential Items to Pack for your Program Abroad

Michaela Wade 6

  1. Comfortable walking shoes – you’re going to be doing a lot of exploring, which could be hard on your feet.
  2. UK shirts or other gear to represent your school while abroad.
  3. Any toiletries that you can’t live without (it may be difficult/expensive to get them abroad).
  4. A range of clothing appropriate for the weather there. Do a lot of research before you get there, and have lots of options. For example, if you’re going to Central America during the rainy season, you’re going to want a good rain jacket and umbrella. I was amazed, but I actually managed to be cold at times in Costa Rica and was glad to have a thick jacket.
  5. A few dressy outfits – you want to be prepared if you’re invited to an event that requires formal attire. Also, some cultures dress more formally for classes than we do in the U.S. so do some research about the country and keep that in mind.
  6. If you enjoy reading at all, a good book is beyond value. It could be something new or an old favorite. This will really help you on those long plane and bus rides.
  7. An good iPod/music library will also help the hours of traveling go by and can help with homesickness.
  8. To quote Douglas Adams, “A towel, [The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy] says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.” This practical item will also come in handy abroad more than you can imagine.
  9. A notebook. Keeping a journal every day preserves your memories while they’re fresh. You can also keep a list of new words you have learned to reference later.
  10. A gift for your host family! Something that shares Kentucky culture with them, for example bourbon balls, or a cornbread or pancake mix, something you can make with them. If you aren’t staying with a host family, take something anyway to share with a friend you’ll make in your host country.
  11. Bring an extra duffle bag folded flat in your suitcase to use on the return trip for those things you’ve picked up as souvenirs to take home.

Michaela Wade 5

Obviously you will also need a passport, money, and all of the other basics. These are just a few things that I was really glad to have brought or really wish that I had brought while abroad. Best of luck!


Michaela Wade is a junior at the University of Kentucky studying Spanish. She participated in a UK Partner program with SOL Education Abroad at the Latin University of Costa Rica in fall 2015.