It’s hard to pack when traveling internationally. There’s no way to avoid the luggage weight rules of airlines, and no one wants to pay those fines for going over! But you also have to consider the weather of your foreign destination, what dress is culturally appropriate, and if there are any important sartorial details for spots you may visit during the trip. But if you are going abroad for an extended stay, such as a semester in a study abroad program, you have more to think about. After all, you are gone for many months on end! Here are some tips to follow as you prepare for an extended trip abroad.
Choose a bag that will fit your lifestyle abroad
You have two main choices of bags: a backpack or a suitcase. A backpack refers to the kind you’d take on the camping trail. These allow easy travel and comfort, which can be huge assets if you’ll be walking from train stops to hotels and back again. If your trip abroad involves frequent changes in sleeping stops, the backpack is really your best bet. A suitcase is, obviously, your standard suitcase. One with wheels will be the most helpful. If you will be in one or just a few locations during your trip, a suitcase will suit your needs. They are easier to pack than backpacks and have more room.
Bring clothes that can be layered
If you’re abroad for many months, the weather may be very different by the time you return home than when you arrived in the foreign land. For that reason, bring clothes that layer well. Sweaters, scarves, and tees will work in both winter and summer depending on how you wear them. Plus, having clothes that layer introduces a mix-and-match element, so you can create many different outfits from a few items, thus reducing how much you pack!
Choose your shoes wisely
Fashion can be sacrificed for an international trip. Getting blisters or sore feet as a result of wearing the wrong shoes can literally ruin your trip; if you it hurts you to walk, you will not be able to see many tourist destinations! Bring comfortable walking shoes that have been broken in before the trip; a pair of flip-flops if you’ll be doing any swimming or bathing in a public bathroom, such as a hostel; one pair of nicer shoes if you could end up in a dressy situation.
Leave the toiletries at home
For a normal trip, it makes sense to pack travel bottles of your toiletries. But if you are gone for many months, you will need more than a travel-sized bottle and carrying a full-sized bottle is too heavy and takes up too much room. An easy solution is to buy your toiletries when you arrive at your destination. Of course if there is something specific you need, such as special contact solution, bring it.
Bring a daypack
A daypack, like a fanny pack or a small messenger bag, is a great addition to your luggage. The daypack can usually be carried on the plane in addition to your carry-on (it’s purse-like), giving you a bit more packing space. During your time abroad, your pack will be the perfect holder for your camera, maps, guidebook and anything else you may need during the day.
This is an obvious tip, but always bears repeating. The adage is true – lay out everything you think you need for the trip, and take away half is a good idea. Duplicates are unnecessary – unless it’s underwear or socks.