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Packing Up Before You Go Abroad: Suitcases, Carry-on’s, and Personal bags, Oh my!

Lauren 4

Getting ready to leave!

So, you’re going abroad, but have you actually thought about what you’re going to take with you yet? Well, let me help you with some tips and ideas!

I think a big thing that people worry about before going abroad is their cell phone. Should you bring your phone that you already have with an international plan? Should you bring it and just not use wifi? Should you bring an unlocked phone and purchase a sim card while abroad? All these questions went through my head before I went abroad and there are some ways to make this thought process easier. I would advise both getting an international plan or an unlocked phone and then buying a chip if you plan on being abroad for a semester or more. If your program is shorter than that, an international plan would be okay or maybe just using wifi if it’s readily available. These are things to consider before leaving, but really try and think of what is best for you when deciding. If you hardly ever use your phone, wifi could be the way to go. But if you are gone for a semester and go with a foreign phone plan, sometimes that can be significantly cheaper than an international plan with your home provider.

When packing before you go, you need to think about the climate and weather of your host area. That way you know whether to bring more sweaters or to instead bring more shorts. If you know that you maybe want to buy clothes while abroad, leave some space in your bags, but otherwise, try and pack the clothes that you will need if you don’t want to purchase new ones. When putting all of this into your suitcases, I highly recommend using space bags. They’re essentially giant Ziploc bags for your luggage that push the air out around your things so you can fit more in the suitcase. I would maybe bring a small throw blanket as well just in case your bedroom abroad doesn’t have a blanket or not a blanket you want. This also goes with wash clothes. I wouldn’t necessarily bring a whole towel, but a couple of wash clothes could be helpful. Try and think about what will already be there for you and if you want to buy things there or bring them.

With all this being said, one last thing that I would highly recommend bringing would be a small first aid kit and sewing kit. I’m not saying to bring a whole pharmacy in your suit case, but have some Band-Aids, ibuprofen, and some cold medicine. Sometimes medicine in other countries isn’t as readily available or is a lot more expensive. With this being said, certain medications aren’t available abroad because they’re illegal, so make sure what you’re bringing is acceptable (this can include even general painkillers!). But you are the one that knows you best, take this tips into consideration before you leave!


Lauren Bix is a 3rd year senior at the University of Kentucky. Her major is in French and francophone studies and her time abroad was in Caen, Normandy, France, spring semester 2016.