Embarking on a study abroad journey is an exhilarating experience, but the overwhelming task of packing can cast a shadow on the excitement. As someone who tends to overpack, my preparation for a semester-long exchange in Seoul, South Korea taught me valuable lessons in strategizing for efficiency. Join me as I share insights and tips that go beyond the basics, helping you navigate the intricate process of preparing for your study abroad adventure. And if you are looking for qualifications, I fully believe that as an over packer I tend to overthink and therefore, identify helpful strategies you might not have considered!

First things first, how long are you traveling? Are you staying 2 weeks, a semester, or a year? Pack efficiently for the duration of your trip. It is a hard pill to swallow but stick to packing the basics. For example, take two pairs of versatile pants such as a black pair of slacks or a medium-wash denim jean. White and black are great examples of classic colors that pair well. Like flavors in a great bag of trail mix, clothes need to complement each other. Additionally, check to see how much laundry access you have while abroad. Limit yourself to packing the necessities such as socks, underwear, a toothbrush, medicine, and a pair of shoes. Remember to ask yourself these questions when packing: can I buy this in the country where I’m staying? Is it better to discard this item when dirty and purchase another or to launder it? These factors are crucial to organizing a packing list and overlap with the next factor: weather and climate.

Build your packing list around the weather estimates of your travel destination. Familiarize yourself with the seasonal differences of your travel destination! Weather will determine what clothes you need to pack. It could mean the difference between being protected by rain gear or getting soaked during monsoon season. And wet socks are no fun! A nifty brainstorming trick is to write down your thoughts in a notebook or word document. A journal helps me break down and organize my thoughts. Plus, it is a lot more fun to check off a list!

The next tip was recommended to me by a friend: pack for your trip and then pack again, and then pack again, and then pack…you get it. Pack and re-pack until you are comfortable with the amount you are taking. Make sure to check that your luggage meets airport requirements in both the U.S. and the country you are visiting.

Lastly, a less obvious and trickier thing to pack is emotional baggage. Account for emotional baggage in your packing process. Yes, emotional baggage does count. In my case I have whatever emotional baggage equates to moving 15 hours away from home. This is a particularly important part of preparing to study abroad! Give yourself room to adjust and navigate your move to a different country. If that means packing your favorite stuffed animal, then do it! Figure out tangible or intangible items that help during the moving process. Packing for a study abroad can be emotionally draining; however, bringing familiar items that you love can help with the process!

Hopefully these tips will help you on the journey to building a home away from home.