If you are planning to head overseas for a year of study abroad, you should plan ahead what you will need to bring besides clothing. While your clothing needs will vary based a lot on the climate and the culture of your destination, other items are more universal. Some things are essentials, while others depend on how much you want to have them. The good news is that you don’t have to fit everything you want to have with you into your luggage. You can also ship some items.
You don’t want to go in search of the nearest chemist or grocery as soon as you arrive. While shipping nine-month supply of your favourite shampoo isn’t very practical, you do want to have enough of your essentials on hand to tide you over. It makes sense to bring toiletries in the approved size and type of packaging in your carry-on luggage just so you are not caught out if your luggage is delayed. You can try out the local options after you’ve had a week or so to settle in.
- Prescription medication. This is an essential that you should take in your carry-on bag. It is the exception to the rule, and you should bring an adequate supply for your stay along with a letter from your GP on letterhead explaining that it is necessary.
- Over the counter medications you use such as pain relief. Make sure the type you bring is allowed where you are going. Antacid. You might try some new foods that don’t agree with you, and the stress of settling into a new place can upset your stomach too. Condoms. Better safe than sorry, and they might not easily found at your destination. Even if you don’t expect to need them, someone in your group might.
- Shampoo, conditioner, soap or shower gel. Whatever you use in the shower, bring it along.
- Brush and comb.
- Hair products such as gel and hair clips. Don’t go mad with hair accessories. But if you wear any type of hair clip regularly, bring two options.
- Nail clippers and a dozen emery boards. These should go in your checked luggage just to be on the safe side.
- Toothbrush and paste.
- First aid kit. Your parents will be happy knowing you have it. You don’t need anything fancy, just a basic kit with plasters in assorted sizes and shapes, gauze, tape, antiseptic.
- If you are very fair skinned, do not risk it. You might not be able to find a high enough SPF.
- Contact solution and spare lenses. Bring a supply to last your whole stay.
- Spare pair of glasses, regardless of whether you normally wear glasses or contacts.
- Insect repellent.
- Lip balm.
- Face cleanser, moisturizer and cosmetics. Go easy here. If you wear make-up, bring the absolute minimum. Really, you are gorgeous without it. And you don’t want to waste the space in your luggage.
Unless you are heading to the UK, this is complicated. You’ll want to bring essentials such as your phone, laptop and personal stereo. But you can’t simply plug them in anywhere in the world. Not only is the plug shaped differently, the amount of electric current is also different. An adapter will allow you to plug in your electronics overseas, and a converter will adjust the amount of current safely. Most gadgets today are duel currency so you don’t have to worry about a converter. Take the time to research your specific devices and the electric supply at your destination.
- Mobile phone. You might even need it en route. And really, are you sure you could live without it? You will probably want to get a local sim card after you settle in, but you can avoid the expense of a whole new phone.
- Personal stereo. This is something like an MP3 player, not a large home stereo!
- Two or three bath towels and seven washcloths. If you are staying with a host family, check to see if these are necessary.
- This is another one that you should double check if you are staying with a host family or furnished dormitory. But you definitely don’t want to be surprised to find out you need it!
- Only take what you need. If you have a Kindle or similar device, that can save you a lot of weight in your shipped items. But consider if there are books you will actually need for your studies. You might also want to bring a copy of your faith’s holy book.
- A small torch you can carry in your purse or pocket is a very handy thing to have when you are travelling.
Don’t worry too much about what you can’t bring. You will find replacements locally, and you’ll be having too many adventures to worry about what you left back home.