Be sensible with what you pack. A good rule of thumb is to carry all of your luggage around the block; if you struggle, then you may need to reconsider what you have packed. Packing too much can be very inconvenient and can add a great deal of stress to your travels! Here are some tips to guide you in packing for your time abroad:

  • Remember that you will be able to purchase items you need while abroad. While most products will be different from what you are used to, you will learn that this is an important part of your experience.  
  • Find out what the weather will be like in your destination for the duration of your time abroad. If it will be hot when you arrive but cold when you leave, you will need to pack for all weather conditions.
  • Be informed about culturally appropriate clothing. You do not need to change your entire style but you do want to be respectful of the cultural values of the country you are visiting.
  • Research packing tips for your specific destination. There are many packing lists and videos online that will provide you with excellent packing advice.
  • Consider what students in your host country wear. Americans tend to dress more casually than students in many other countries. Wearing workout clothing, pajamas, flip flops, and athletic shoes to class may be inappropriate in your study abroad destination.
  • All important documents must be in your carry-on luggage
  • Check the TSA website for information on items restricted for both carry on and checked luggage.

Packing Essentials

  • Passport 
  • Original and photocopies of all documents, IDs, prescriptions for medications, immunization card, and other important documents. Keep copies separate from originals.
  • Letter of invitation from host institution abroad (if applicable)
  • Airline tickets
  • Money (credit card, ATM/Debit card, local currency or some combination)
  • Language/phrase book
  • Camera

Looking for more tips? Check out the Padnos International Center's Packing Pinterest Board

Other Items to Consider Packing

  • Flip-flops or shower shoes
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Shorts (if appropriate)
  • Skirts/pants
  • Shirts
  • Sweaters/Hoodies
  • Light jacket
  • One set of formal clothes
  • Hat / Cap
  • Good walking or hiking shoes
  • Backpack for short trips
  • Rain gear
  • Sheets & a pillow case
  • Travel Pillow 
  • Light Towel
  • Toiletries
  • Comb/brush


  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Instant hand sanitizer 
  • Favorite soap and deodorant
  • Suntan lotion/ sunglasses
  • Extra contact lenses, solution, and glasses
  • Small packs of tissues
  • Moist towelettes
  • Contraceptives/condoms
  • Multi-vitamins
  • Aspirin or other pain reliever/antacid/cold medicine
  • Prescriptions
  • First aid kit


  • Guide books/maps
  • Luggage lock & tags
  • Flashlight/head lamps
  • Laptop with charger
  • International adapter/outlet converter
  • Travel journal
  • Sewing kit
  • Insurance information
  • Music
  • Novels/Magazines/E-Reader

Page last modified November 6, 2018