How to Pack for Your Semester Abroad

Jenna Anderson 8

Packing is not easy. Especially when you will be spending a semester on a different continent, but there are some tricks that will make packing go more smoothly – and more economically.

First things first, try to limit your baggage to two suitcases and a carry on. Most airlines allow for you to check one bag for free, so then all you have to pay for is the second suitcase. Your carry on should either be a small rolling suitcase, a backpack, or a large purse/tote. I like to have a book in my carry-on, along with my phone, charger, a water bottle, gum, my wallet, my laptop, and maybe a change of clothes (In case your big luggage gets lost).

Now, consolidating space is important when packing. I found that using airtight vacuum bags really helped to flatten clothing and make the most of your space. It is also important to pack neutrals. Those pink shorts with pineapples on them might be cute, but realistically, you can only pair that with one or two plain colored shirts. Try and pack things that will go with a lot. Like black jeans, or a cream colored cardigan. If you pack this way, you can have a bit more diversity in your outfit choices. Accessories are also helpful to spice up an outfit that you have been wearing for the past 3 months – and bracelets, scarves, and hats take up little space in your luggage. Try to avoid bulky things, like big winter boots, or heavier jackets (unless you’re studying abroad in Russia).

Another space saving tip is to roll your clothing instead of folding them. It takes up so much less space so that you can fit more into your suitcase. I would also avoid taking hair straighteners, blow dryers, and curling irons abroad. A lot of the time the wattage is different abroad than it is in America, so the blow dryer overheats and breaks. I broke three blow dryers just the first week I was in England. I ended up just buying cheap hair styling tools that lasted me the whole semester!

Lastly, I know the dress that you only wore once in your closet will seem amazing to wear when you are wandering the streets of Rome, but trust me, if you don’t wear it at home, you won’t wear it abroad. Clothing like this seems romantic and you will picture yourself wearing it, but it will just add unnecessary weight to your luggage and take up precious space.

Be calculated when you are packing and make sure to not exceed the weight limit!


Jenna Anderson is a junior studying Arts Administration, Dance, and Communications. She participated in the UK Exchange at the University of Central Lancashire in spring 2015.