What NOT to bring: a Study abroad packing list

You’ve got your plane ticket. You’ve got your passport. You’ve got your job offer or study abroad acceptance letter.

You’ve got big dreams, kiddo.

mountains abroad in Salzburg, Austria

Here’s the thing.

You’re going to a foreign country, which is equal parts thrilling as it is terrifying. I mean, what if you get your wallet stolen? What if your three years of high school Spanish are worth diddly-squat? Or what if you only can find that nasty, bubbly water to drink?

Yikes. Looks like you’re going to need the inside scoop into what to leave home for the months / years that you’ll be abroad.

That’s where I come in. Here you’ll find out specifically what to leave at home AND what to put on your study abroad packing list. I’ve got your back, friend.

Let me introduce myself.

To newcomers here (hey there heyyy!), I just finished up a semester in Paris as an intern, so my perspective will be heavily Euro-centric. However, I also lived in Brazil for about a year, so if you have Brazil-specific questions, ask away! I lovelovelove talking about Brazil. Amo de mais.

view from Hohensalzburg Fortress in salzburg, austria

Let’s get down to business, shall we?

Yes, let’s.

Plug adapters

In the states you can find those big chunky-monkey adapters that weigh a few pounds. If you’re coming from the US, I would say to wait to get to your destination to get a plug adapter. All the plugs in Europe (at least the places I went to) are the same, and it’s easy to find cheap, smaller adapters at the store.

view at Mont Saint Michel

Hair tools

I brought both a straightener and a curling iron. Rookie mistake.

There is no use! Europeans go for the I-didn’t-do-anything-to-look-this-good look, and odds are you’ll go for the same. I literally straightened my hair the day before I left France just so I didn’t feel dumb for bringing it.


Clothes you don’t wear now

Logical, right? Uhh… maybe not for me…

I don’t know why, but I was guilty of this. I bought a dress on clearance that was a bit too short and I convinced myself I would wear it with leggings.  Wrong-o. I still have never worn the dress…

Also, don’t bring clothes you need to dry clean or are anything but wash and wear. This makes it easier especially if you find yourself without a dryer.


A full suitcase

Who are we kidding, you’re going to get some souvenirs. Maybe not refrigerator magnets or keychains, but you’ll probably bring a thing or two home from your time abroad. I’m not a fan of traditional souvenirs, so I brought home stuff like scarves and notebooks – useful things that would remind me of where I’ve been. Odds are you’ll want to leave not only physical space for your goodies, but some wiggle room with your weight limit for the flight home.


International phone plan

If you’ll be abroad for longer than a few weeks, I would recommend getting an international SIM card, rather than paying per text/call/megabyte of data. When I first landed in Paris, I bought a SIM card from Lebara for about 15 euros that had enough data for two weeks. Then I bought a new SIM from Free Mobile that had unlimited everything I needed (domestic calls and data) for 20 euros a month. If you’re going to France, check them out!


A big, fat, card-filled wallet

Big retailers and grocery stores will take cards no problem, but you’ll run into some issues at the little bakery around the corner. Most places don’t take cards for purchases under 5 euros, so I used a little coin-purse-esque wallet around town. A smaller wallet = smaller bag = less likely target for pickpocketers. Hollah for a dollah.


And there you have it.

If this list helps you pack for Europe or any other trip abroad, let me know! And lucky for you, I’ve created a study abroad packing list just. for. you. Enter your email address below, and I’ll send it directly to your inbox!

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What NOT to bring: Study abroad packing list