Study abroad requires much preparation and packing.  However, there are a few essential items everyone should have on their person while traveling abroad.  Although living a nomadic lifestyle brings challenges and adventures alike, here are some insider hacks to what I brought and bought when studying abroad.

  1. Instant Coffee: An absolute must if you are a coffee drinker!  Early wake ups in a hostel or Airbnb are no fun, especially without caffeine.  As someone who needs their daily cup, having packets of instant coffee has been a lifesaver.  Many accommodations do not have coffee makers, as I did not have access to one in my dorm in Madrid.  If you are a coffee lover in any shape or form, instant coffee is essential and delicious while in Europe.  My favorite was the Nescafé Café con Leche that I purchased in Spain.
  2. Tide Pens: Traveling is messy, and you are often eating on the go.  Make sure to have tide pens to quickly remedy stains and spills while traveling.  Even if you aren’t a messy eater like me, stains are unfortunately easy to collect on your limited wardrobe.  These have been a lifesaver for my friends and I, especially amid hustle and bustle of European city life!
  3. Hand Sanitizer: Keep one in every bag.  Whatever city you study abroad in, the likelihood of using public transportation is insurmountably high.  Germaphobe or not, keep yourself as healthy as possible and use hand sanitizer after touching handrails, doors, etc.  Being sick abroad is just about the worst thing ever.  Obviously, you cannot constantly control your environment, but be proactive and play it safe with the germs.
  4. Portable Charger: Your phone is your lifeline while abroad.  From contactless payments to tickets and reservations, your phone is your most prized possession as a study abroad student.  Never be stranded without a charge, and always travel with a portable charger in case you don’t have access to a reliable outlet.
  5. Snacks: You never know when you will be stranded at a train station, or how late you may arrive to your weekend trip.  Always pack a few extra snacks for your travel days.  You can never solve problems on an empty stomach; study abroad does not mix with being hangry and exhausted.  My go-to’s were trail mix and whatever local snacks I could find.  Snacks should be dry, packable, and have some extra protein and sugars to hold you over until your next meal.  

Although these items may seem obvious, not having them on my person resulted in some pretty rough travel days. Study abroad is not always glamorous, so preparing for the not so glamorous days is all you can do to ensure a successful experience! After study abroad, I’m confident you will have your list of things you cannot live without, too!