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The Art of Packing (for Study Abroad)

Probably one of my biggest challenges in preparing for my study abroad trip apart from what I was going to bring was how to pack it, because fitting all your clothes for the semester (or year) in one to two suitcases can be a major challenge! So here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned and read about that helped me pack for my semester in Ireland:


  1. Start early. I made the mistake of packing everything the night before despite my mother warning me against doing so and I was up ALL NIGHT before my 22 hour journey to Dublin; not ideal. My advice: start a minimum of 2-3 days in advance to sort and plan how to pack everything. Plus, it will help you to not over pack as you can go back and edit out some items you might not really need while allowing you to relax your last night at home with family and friends.
  2. Packing cubes. These little guys are durable and great for maximizing space in your suitcase while conveniently keep your clothes organized. Just watch this video tutorial and you’ll see what I’m talking about. They come in a variety of colors and sizes, but I recommend the eBags Packing Cubes- 3pc Set (in assorted sizes) for your luggage and the eBags Slim Packing Cubes- 3pc Set for your carry on or travel backpack.
  3. Roll. By tightly compacting your clothes into rolls rather than folding them, you can fit more clothes in your suitcase. Plus, it can even reduce wrinkles if rolled and bundled properly as shown here.
  4. Fill in the gaps. Use items such as small electronics, socks, underwear, tights, rolled scarves, camisoles, etc. to fill in any and all gaps in your suitcase. You can even stuff your shoes (especially tall boots) to maximize space while keeping your favorite pair of flats from getting squished.


Other tips:

  • Be careful when using space/vacuum bags to pack as it can easily set your suitcase above your airline’s weight limitations. In some cases, going over can cost you $150 extra per overweight bag (ouch!).
  • Especially if you’re headed to cold weather climates, wear your bulkiest items (winter coat, boots, etc.) on the plane to save room in your suitcase.
  • Always pack one or two spare outfits along with other essentials (chargers, face creams, etc.) in your carry on just in case your luggage gets lost. Both my bags were delayed (one of them by a week) but I had enough in my carry on to get me through and looking fabulous until I received them.


Finally, some sites I found particularly useful when it came to packing:

UCLA, 3rd year. Communication Studies major.
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