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Packing for an extended period of time overseas can be daunting, but with a little bit of organization and research, you can pack like an expert world traveler. See our list of tips below:

1. Pack what you think you’ll need. Then pack less. You should be able to maneuver your luggage by yourself. After you pack it, try carrying it around your room a few times. If you’re struggling, you’ll need to pack less.

2. Pack fewer clothes and shoes than you think you’ll need. If you’re not sick of your wardrobe by end of your study abroad program, then you didn’t pack right.

3. Consider using a packing list generator. Several generators can be found online. A couple of our favorites are Pack Whiz and the Universal Packing List.

4. Think hard about and research what you “must” have. Unless you are participating in short-term study abroad, most of your toiletries can be bought overseas. However, if there is a certain brand of shampoo that you absolutely cannot live without, you may wish to bring it with you; just make such decisions sparingly. Also, you should buy a guidebook for the country in which you’re going to study abroad so that you can research what kinds of things might be difficult to find. In certain countries, for example, it’s almost impossible to find contact lens solution, tampons, and/or deodorant.

5. Make a list of your “must-have” items. Keep this list to a maximum of ten items. On this list, you should only include items that would cause you a lot of trouble if you forgot them. Then, check and double-check to make sure you’ve remembered all of the items on this list. Examples of items on a “must-have” list might include passport, tickets, money, emergency contact sheet, address book for postcards, guide book, language dictionary, camera, and laptop.

6. Bring a solid supply of medicines and first-aid supplies. Medicines don’t take much space in your suitcase, and while you may not need them, you’ll be extremely grateful to yourself for packing them if you do need them! Here’s a general list of items to consider, though this list should be tailored to your destination and personal preferences:

  • Any prescription medication WITH copies of prescriptions
  • Extra pair of glasses / contacts
  • Anti-diarrheal medication
  • Laxatives/stool softeners
  • Anti-gas/Beano
  • Aspirin, Ibuprofen, or Tylenol
  • Sunblock
  • Sunburn relief spray
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Anti-itch gel / hydrocortisone cream
  • Bandages
  • Neosporin / antibiotic cream (In Europe, antibiotic cream requires a prescription, so it’s wise to bring your own.)
  • Anti-septic hand wipes/Purell
  • Yeast infection treatment (In many countries, yeast infection medication requires a prescription, so it’s wise to bring your own.)
  • Dramamine or Bonine (if prone to motion sickness)
  • Cold medication (Many cold medications are banned in Japan. Check regulations very carefully if you will be traveling to Japan.)
  • Condoms
  • Thermometer

7. Be selective about electronics you want to bring. Most students will want to bring a cell phone, laptop, and digital camera. Think carefully about whether you really need to bring any electronics beyond those. Remember that electronics are bulky and take up a lot of space. If you must bring a hairdryer or iron, for example, consider bringing a travel size.

8. For electronics that you do plan to bring, make sure you bring the proper accessories. Don’t forget your laptop power card, cell phone and camera chargers, and camera cord for downloading pictures.

9. Check the voltage of the country you plan to travel to. You may need an adaptor or converter. For more information, click here.

10. Consider bringing something from the US to share with your host culture. People that you meet may be curious about your family, friends, school, house, hobbies, etc. It can be a great conversation starter if you bring a pocket photo album with pictures of these things. Also, if you plan on staying with a host family, you should bring a gift—something locally made, if possible. Malley’s chocolates, CWRU or Cleveland sportswear, or Bath and Body Works products (which are made in Ohio) are good choices.

11. Make sure that your packing meets TSA regulations. Make sure you aren’t carrying any prohibited items. Make sure your liquids in your carry-on meet the required quantities. This includes food liquids!

12. Additional Packing Information