It can be difficult to know where to begin when packing for a period of studying abroad. You want to have your home comforts to hand and to be prepared for every possible situation. But at the same time, you must be careful that you don’t overpack and incur expensive excess baggage charges from your airline. This can be especially challenging if you plan to study abroad for a relatively long time. Make sure that you have everything you need for your overseas adventure by checking out our checklists.
Top Tip: Before you pack:
Look up your airline’s baggage allowances for carry-on and checked luggage. This varies between airlines. Take note of the baggage weights and dimensions that are allowed. Measure your carry-on luggage with a measuring tape to make sure it fits the criteria. Remember that the dimensions include wheels, handles, and side pockets. Weigh all your luggage beforehand (with a home weighing scales or a luggage weighing scales) to make sure you have not overpacked.
Carry-on luggage checklist:
- Passport: Before packing your passport, make sure that the expiry date is longer than six months. Some countries won’t permit you to enter if the expiry date is too close to the time of travel.
- Study Visa: A study visa is an official document, stamp, or seal that is affixed within your passport. Your college will have informed you in advance whether you require a study visa.
- Travel insurance: Make sure to take out travel insurance before you fly. Travel insurance is not expensive and usually includes cover for medical emergencies, cancellations and travel delays. The college you are studying with may have student insurance but this typically will only start from the first day you attend the college and will not cover your travels.
- Airline tickets/boarding passes: Check the emails from your airline to see if you can check in online and print your boarding pass(es) in advance. This could save you hours of queueing at the airport.
- Other important documents: This includes official documentation from your college such as final offer letters, guardianship forms and other travel documentation including train/bus tickets and hotel reservations.
Top Tip: Organising your travel documents:
- Pack all your travel documents together in the one location.
- Always carry them with you while you are travelling and never leave them out of your sight.
- Never put your travel documents in your checked bag.
- Take photographs/screenshots of your travel documents on your phone, so that they are saved in your gallery and are easily available at all times.
- Email copies of your travel documents to yourself in case they get lost.
- Always print a copy of your airline tickets/boarding passes. This will work as a back-up if your phone battery dies. In addition some airports don’t allow mobile phone boarding passes and require the printed copies.
- Digital devices: Don’t forget to pack your mobile phone, laptop and tablet (if you plan on using it). A laptop is essential for your studies, as you will need it to complete all your assignments.
Important!! Never, ever pack digital devices such as laptops or tablets in your checked luggage. Otherwise you run the risk that they might be stolen or damaged. Pack your devices in your carry-on luggage instead.
- Chargers: Pack the charger required for each digital device and make sure your devices are charged before you travel. Some airlines have a policy that if your device does not switch on when requested by airport security, you may not be allowed to take it into the aircraft.
- Long flight comforts: Catching a long international flight? Airplanes can be cold especially if you are flying at night-time, so be sure to pack warm, comfortable clothing such as a hoodie, scarf and soft socks. A face mask to block out the light is essential in helping you get a comfortable sleep.
- Change of clothes: In case of airport delays, it is always a good idea to bring a change of clothes.
Top Tip: What not to pack!
Most airlines have regulations regarding what you can and cannot pack in your carry–on luggage. Sharp items such as razors, scissors and nail files are banned. Liquids contained in bottles that are over 100ml are also banned.
If you are packing liquids under 100ml in your carry-on luggage, all of the bottles combined have to fit in a small airport approved transparent bag. If you plan on packing items larger than this, you will have to include them in your checked-in luggage.
Checked-in luggage essentials:
- Plan ahead: Packing requires planning. You will most likely need to pack and re–pack a number of times before you are satisfied, so make sure that you give yourself enough time. Always remember that less is more when it comes to packing.
- Power adapters: In Europe alone, there are three different types of power adapters. You should research what type of plugs are used in your destination country. The best option might be a universal adapter which can be used anywhere in the world.
- Pack appropriate clothing: Do some online research into the weather in the country where you will be studying in advance of your flight. Remember to look up different seasons of the year to confirm that you are bringing appropriate clothing.
- How to pack: Lay all the clothes that you are planning to bring on your bed and then narrow this down to half the amount. Roll rather than fold your clothes. This will allow you to fit more into your case and will avoid wrinkled clothes. To ensure your suitcase is well balanced, place heavier items such as your shoes and toiletries at the bottom of the case. If you are travelling to a colder destination you will need to bring heavier, bulkier clothing. In this case, wear heavy items such as boots or runners, hoodies and coats when travelling. By doing this, you will save some space in your suitcase.
- Toiletries: Only pack essential toiletries. Your destination country will have plenty of pharmacies and supermarkets that stock toiletries, so there is no need to include heavy items such as shower gel and body lotion. You can stock up on these when you arrive at your destination.
Top Tip: Preventing leaks or spillages: Doublecheck that the lids on your toiletries are fully closed before packing. Pack your toiletries/toiletry bag inside a plastic bag. That way if one of your toiletries leaks during a flight, your clothes will be protected from the spillage.
- Overweight luggage: If you are struggling to get the weight of your baggage down so that it meets your airline’s baggage requirements, look up your flight booking to see if you can add an additional checked bag. This will come at a cost but at least you will have everything you need. The last thing you want is the stress of queueing at a busy airport to pay an excess baggage charge which could potentially delay you in catching your flight.
- Make sure your bag arrives at your destination: Every year 25 million bags are mislaid during flights. This is a frightening statistic. So what can you do to prevent this?
- Ensure your luggage stands out in some way such as with a colourful ribbon, so that it can be easily spotted at the airport and on the baggage carousel.
- Attach a tag with your contact information to your luggage. At the very least include your phone number (along with the country code!) or email address, so that someone may easily contact you wherever your bag ends up.
- Fully remove old flight stickers from your baggage to avoid confusion.
- Zip-lock bags and plastics bags: They don’t take up much space, and you never know when you are going to need them so always pack a few extras in your case.
Packing for your studying abroad adventure will be easier and less stressful if you prepare in advance. Our checklists provided above will help ensure that you are well organised and prepared for all possibilities. This will afford you and your family good peace of mind, as you can rest assured that you have all your bases covered.
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