Packing to go home for the weekend will be a cinch after you've crammed weeks of your necessities into a suitcase or two. It's a daunting task, but plenty of people have done it before you, so there's no need to panic. Read on for tips to pack efficiently!
What to Pack
- Passport and documentation. Traveling is much easier when you have your passport on hand. Be sure to keep any documentation required for your particular program with your passport and put them somewhere easily accessible at the airport. Store them in a very safe place when you aren't using them.
- Money. The easiest way to purchase things while abroad is through a debit or credit card, but cash is very necessary in some places. Contact your bank and make sure they are aware you will be traveling abroad. Check that you will be able to withdraw cash from your card while overseas. Tell them exactly where you will be going and how long you will be gone; otherwise, your credit or debit card account could be frozen. There are plenty of places to exchange money once abroad, so taking a little bit of cash to start out with is fine.
- Adapters and converters. Different countries have different outlet plugs, so you will need two things to plug in an American electronic: an adaptor and a converter. The adaptor allows you to plug in your American electronic, so be sure the adaptors you have are appropriate for the country or countries you will be visiting. The converter will alter the amount of energy sent your electronic so it shouldn't fry what you plug in.
- Chargers for your phone, camera and computer. Contact your phone company and let them know you will be traveling abroad. From there, you can make an arrangement with them for an overseas plan, or leave your phone at home and make use of Skype or purchase a GoPhone once you're overseas. Most students opt to take their laptops with them so they have access to social networking sites and free communication through Skype or iChat. It will be difficult to find a charger to fit your electronics so don't forget to pack yours.
- Medicines. Remember prescriptions and take Ibuprofen just in case.
- Travel clock and umbrella. If you won't have a phone or lose your charger, battery-charged or solar-powered travel clocks make great backups. Umbrellas will be available most anywhere you go, but take a small one with you in your carry-on to be safe.
- Toiletries. If you're studying abroad in a location where you will have access to a grocery store, take enough toiletries to get through the first week or two. Then you can buy shampoo, conditioner, etc. and take up less space in your suitcase on the way there. You can also purchase laundry detergent and softener after you arrive. Girls, your make-up and hairstyle brands might not be available overseas, so bring the necessities with you. Hair dryers and straighteners often get fried using outlets in other countries, so leaving them at home and buying a cheap one when you arrive might be best. Don't forget that most liquid toiletries will not make it through security as a carry-on, so put those things in your checked luggage. Put liquids in a zip-top bag so if there is a spill, nothing will be ruined.
- Attire. VERY IMPORTANT: Make sure you pack for the weather you will be experiencing. Get online, check out the average temperatures for the time of year you're visiting, and pack accordingly. And trust us, you do not need as many pairs of shoes as you think. Try to cut it down to the essentials: a pair of tennis shoes, dress shoes, and a couple pairs of boots or outdoor shoes.
- Cold climates: Layers. Layering clothes keeps you warmest and you can easily mix and match plain shirts with plain jackets and sweaters. Long johns might not be fashionable, but you will be happy you have them on under your jeans in 10-degree weather. Take your winter coat with you on the airplane so it won't take up suitcase space. Be sure to pack scarves, hats, gloves, and thick socks.
- Warm climates: You will be able to fit more options into your suitcase with lighter clothing to pack. You will also probably be able to sneak a few more pairs of shoes in your luggage without going over the weight limit. Sunscreen, hats and bug repellant should be included in your suitcase as well.
- Rolling. Folding your clothes as you would to put them in a dresser will cause them to crease. Rolling your clothes compresses them into a small space and will keep them from getting wrinkled.
- Space bags. This method gives you more room in your suitcase, but remember that clothes still weigh the same in our out of a space bag. So even though you might be able to fit more, it will be easier to exceed the weight limit.
As most Honors students do, you have probably researched your destination to death. You might be convinced that all fourteen of your guidebooks and all six of your atlases are necessary to survive, but choose your favorite one and photocopy whatever else you think you might need. Most cities have maps available for tourists, so don't stress about bringing detailed map.
Most airlines allow you to take one or two 50-pound suitcases, a carry-on, and women are allowed a purse. Double check the specific requirements for your airline and take advantage of the space you are given. Make sure you follow all the specific guidelines for flying, such as the amount of liquids you can have in your carry-on. And most importantly, weigh AND measure your suitcase before you leave for the airport. You don't want to have to hastily decide what to take out of your suitcase with a line of impatient people behind you, and you want to make sure your carry-on will easily fit overhead—be prepared.
Several stores have a wide selection of small liquid containers as well as travel-sized hand sanitizers, wipes, etc. These will come in handy for packing liquids in your carry-on, as well as any other traveling you may do while abroad.
If you plan on purchasing souvenirs while abroad, be sure to leave room for them in your suitcase.