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The Ultimate Study Abroad Packing List

If you’re studying abroad this semester, you’re about to face the ultimate challenge before you even board the plane: packing everything you need to live in a different country in one suitcase. You may freak out a bit as you figure out what to bring, what to leave and what’s actually essential.

Take a deep breath, collegiettes—we’re here to help! Before you rush to the airport, use this checklist to ensure that you have everything you need for your new home away from home. 

Click here to download a printable version of this list!

In your carry-on bag

  • American cell phone and charger (in case you need to contact someone while you’re still in the U.S.)
  • Boarding pass(es)
  • Cash (bring American dollars and the currency of your host location or money you can exchange for it—enough to use in case of an emergency, but not more money than you can afford to lose)
  • Copy of birth certificate
  • Copy of Social Security card
  • Credit card (notify your bank that you’ll be abroad before you leave to avoid your account being frozen)
  • Debit card
  • Deodorant
  • E-reader or book
  • Emergency contact list
  • Face wipes
  • Gum
  • Hand sanitizer 
  • Headphones 
  • Health insurance card
  • Passport 
  • Prescription medication(s) you usually take (make sure you bring enough refills to last your entire trip—but future prescriptions can go in your checked luggage)
  • School ID
  • Spare outfit (in case your luggage gets lost or delayed)
  • State ID
  • Student visa (or all the paperwork needed to get one in-country)
  • Travel itinerary
  • Travel pillow
  • Travel tickets (if you’re taking a train or other transport after your plane lands)
  • Wallet


Keep these in a plastic bag at the top of your checked suitcase.

Tip: To save room in your suitcase, buy standard items such as shampoo, conditioner and body wash in your host country.

  • Acne medication/cream
  • Face lotion/moisturizer
  • Makeup
  • Mini shampoo & conditioner (until you get the chance to get full-sized bottles in your new country)
  • Mouthwash (small)
  • Soap (mini bottle if you’re using body wash)
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste


Tip: Because of the voltage differences in many electronic products, you may want to wait until you’re in your host country to buy items such as a blow dryer or hair straightener—plugging an American hair dryer into an outlet converter could overheat and break it.

  • Bobby pins
  • Comb
  • Contacts, solution and case (again, make sure you have all the contacts you’ll need for your time abroad)
  • Glasses and glasses case
  • Hair ties
  • Hairbrush
  • Headbands
  • Nail clipper
  • Razor(s)
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Tampons and pads
  • Tweezers


You will likely have the opportunity to do laundry on your trip, and you’ll be able to purchase detergent in your host country.

  • Downy Wrinkle Release spray
  • Linens/towels (if your housing doesn’t have them)
  • Portable stain remover pen
  • Travel sheet (for hostels)


Tip: Mixing and matching outfits and layering saves a ton of space in your suitcase! Make sure you check the predicted weather of the country you’re traveling to so you can dress appropriately. Don’t bring anything you’d be devastated to see ruined!

  • Athletic sneakers (1)
  • Bathing suits (1-2)
  • Boots (1-2)
  • Bras (2 sports bras, 2 regular bras, 1 strapless/convertible bras)
  • Casual dresses (2)
  • Everyday comfortable shoes (1-2)
  • Flats (1)
  • Flip-flops (1)
  • Formal outfit (1-2)
  • Gloves (1, if weather appropriate)
  • Going-out outfit (3-5)
  • Hat (1)
  • Heavier coat for colder climates (1)
  • Heels (1-2)
  • Jacket (2; a light one and one for colder weather, if applicable)
  • Jeans (2, one black & one blue)
  • Jewelry (remember that bringing jewelry to another country is always a risk; don’t bring anything too valuable!)
  • Leggings (1-3)
  • Long-sleeve shirts (3-5)
  • Pajamas (2-3)
  • Pants (1-2 nice pairs)
  • Purse (1-2)
  • Raincoat (1)
  • Scarf (1)
  • Short-sleeve shirts (5-7)
  • Shorts (2-4, if weather appropriate)
  • Skirts (1-2)
  • Socks (14 pairs)
  • Sweaters (3-5)
  • Sweatshirt (2)
  • T-shirts (3-5)
  • Tank tops (3-5)
  • Underwear (14)
  • Watch (1)
  • Workout clothes (2-5)


Remember that most of your electronic items will need an outlet converter in order to work!

  • Camera (remember your case and USB cords)
  • Cell phone (keep in mind that you’ll be able to buy an international phone or SIM card when you arrive at your destination)
  • Chargers (laptop, phone, camera, e-reader, etc.)
  • Flash drive
  • iPod
  • Laptop
  • Laptop case
  • Outlet adapters (2-3)
  • USB cable


Tip: Remember to check if the medications you take are legal in the country that you’re going to by contacting the country’s embassy. Some over-the-counter medications are illegal outside of the United States.

  • Adhesive bandages
  • Allergy medicine
  • Birth control
  • Cold and flu medicine
  • Eye drops
  • Motion sickness medicine
  • Over-the-counter pain medicine
  • Vitamins


  • Backpack (small)
  • Gift for your host family (bring something that they couldn’t get in their own country, like memorabilia from your hometown)
  • Journal
  • Language dictionary
  • Map
  • Playing cards
  • Travel guide
  • Umbrella (small)

Click here to download a printable version of this list!

As you pack for one of the most exciting trips of your life, remember to leave room in your suitcase, because chances are you’ll come home with awesome memorabilia. Safe travels, collegiettes! 

Kasia (pronounced "Kasha") recently graduated from Villanova University where she studied Communication. She's a self-proclaimed Pinterest enthusiast, aspiring writer, avid reader, and constant smiler. Besides writing for HC, you can find her practicing yoga or curling up with a book at a coffee shop. She plans to pursue a career in public relations or journalism, where she can live in a city and decorate her own apartment. Follow her on Twitter or check out her blog!