What to pack

You know where you’re going and what you’re doing - now you just need to know what to pack. This will be tricky, so here are some ideas to help you out.


You probably have a good idea of what to pack for your year abroad, but with only 20kg of baggage allowed on most flights, actually packing all your stuff can be a nightmare.

Look online and see what different airlines are offering - some airlines allow you a total of 23kg with 2 carry-on bags (1 laptop bag, 1 hand luggage bag), while others only allow a total of 20kg and 1 hand luggage bag. The prices between low-fare airlines and other airlines may not vary that much either, especially if you book a few months in advance. A good time to book your flights is mid-week as the prices tend to be cheaper than at weekends.

If you don’t think you can possibly fit everything into one suitcase a good solution is to send things by courier. This is often much cheaper than paying for extra weight at the airport. If you don’t know where you’re going to be living yet, ask someone to send it over once you’ve found a place - just don’t leave any essentials behind!

Here are some tips and tricks to make your life easier when it comes to packing:


"Don't forget your guidebooks - the first few weeks are the best time to explore the city, region or country where you're going to be living"

  • Address book/email contact list - you’ll meet some amazing people that you’ll want to stay in touch with. Get your home friends’ addresses to so you can send them postcards throughout the year.
  • Driving licence - it’s an accepted form of ID and is better than taking your passport with you everywhere you go.
  • Mobile phone - built in alarm clock, calculator, games, and a good way to stay in contact with friends back home or to use in emergencies.
  • Guidebook - the first few weeks are the best time to explore the city, region or country where you are going to be living. It is a great way to not only get to know the area and feel like you know where you’re living but to meet friends and occupy some of your time before classes or work begin.
  • Towels - these can be heavy and take up precious room in your suitcase so invest in some lightweight or travel towels.
  • Sunglasses - Most countries tend to get more sunshine than the UK so don't forget to look after your eyes whilst you’re away.
  • Torch - you never know when you may have a power cut and have to get dressed in the dark!
  • Toiletries - pack some toiletries to use when you first get to the country – once you’re there, most toiletries are cheaper abroad and you can buy the same brands as you can at home.
  • Medical kit - lightweight and full of essential items that you might need in a hurry.
  • Adapter plugs - this is obvious but students still seem to forget them. Unfortunately you can’t buy an English-Europe/world adapter plug when you get there.
  • Light coat and umbrella - yes it rains abroad too and it will definitely come in handy when the heavens open.
  • ISIC card - this is an International Student Identity Card - accepted in loads of places, this is your ticket to getting discounts in places all over the world. You can get this card from your uni or STA Travel.
  • Comfort food - Take your PG Tips, favourite chocolate or sweets - you’ll definitely miss these and they aren’t easy (or cheap) to get hold of once you’re abroad.
  • Camera - a good camera is vital for your year abroad.
  • Only take essential clothes with you.

What not to pack

"Don't pack your entire wardrobe"

  • Your entire wardrobe - you may feel taking everything will prepare you for every occasion, but you won’t wear it all. You’ll soon find what you can and can’t live without as the weeks pass.
  • Don’t pack summer clothes when it’s winter and vice versa - consider your destination’s weather/climate and the activities that you’re most likely to do whilst you’re there. If you go home during the year, you can bring things like scarves home and replace them as the seasons change.
  • Bedding and furniture! You may not be sure if your accommodation provides bedding, pots and pans etc but if it doesn't all this can be bought cheaply once you’re there from supermarkets or Ikea- have a look online before you go to see where you can buy these in the place you’re going.