Mia’s Packing Tips for Down Under

It felt like I was at home awaiting my trip abroad forever, but now, i’m finally here.  Although most of the Global Ambassadors are well into their international adventures, my choice of country, Australia, means I’ve just begun.  In Australia the seasons are opposite, since it is in the southern hemisphere (ie UNSW has been on summer vacation and their fall semester starts Feb 27). This switch of seasons poses great prospects for weather but also quite a conundrum for packing. As mentioned in my intro post I have been lucky enough to travel a lot, however that doesn’t by any stretch mean that I am a skilled packer.

Whenever my family travels together things begin to fall apart as we approach the luggage counter, otherwise known as the scale of fear. If you aren’t careful your bags may tip the scale over the airline imposed 50lb limit. This error causes overage charges and a headache induced by frantically switching clothes from one bag to the next in an attempt to even weights out. If you keep one thing in mind while packing for your semester abroad it should be “Less is more.” In all likelihood the country you are going to has extra pants, socks and shampoo, let’s hope…

Outlined below is what I am bringing abroad and why, I’ll let you know how it all works out once I get to Sydney. As a side note, ziplock bags come in all sorts of fun sizes, even extra large bags that can hold a lot of things to keep your luggage more organized.

*Keep in mind this is for a semester abroad, staying in one apartment for the majority of the trip. If you are on a travelling program, you may want to cut the following amounts in half.


  • Two large suitcases or duffels with wheels
  • A backpack for school, side trips and as a carry on
  • A rolling carry-on or a carry-on size duffel for side trips
  • Easily collapsible bags that fit in your suitcase but can be used while abroad


  • Chargers, connectors and batteries for all your appliances
    • If possible, get a new cord for things like camera, phone and computer chargers. Apple sells plugs for every world region.
  • Country specific converters or adapters. Ladies leave your straighteners at home as they do not cooperate with adapters because of their small electrical parts.
    • Don’t use generic adaptors for anything you can’t afford to get fried, just in case.
  • Back up hard drive, in case your computer crashes you still have everything you need.


  • 2 button down shirts, if you plan on working you want to be able to look presentable for an interview and they are easy to layer over other things.
  • 2 weeks worth of underwear
  • 2 weeks worth of socks
  • 3-4 pairs of pants
  • An array of mix and match tops and bottoms for day/night
  • 1 raincoat, 1 heavy coat, 1 cheap coat for going out
  • Sweaters in neutral colors
  • Swim suit, because it is small and often expensive/inconvenient to get one abroad.



  • A flashlight (or better a head lamp), good for outdooradventures or getting to your bed when your host family or roommate has been long asleep


  • Prescriptions for your entire stay
  • Sunscreen, preferably a physical block (i.e. derived from things that sound like they could be found on the periodic table, no waiting to go into the sun)
  • Extra toothbrush

By no means is this an exhaustive list of what you can bring, but it may guide you in your study abroad packing process. As a final note, to save even more space in your luggage roll up all your clothing (it really works as you can see in the video below)

Packing Like a Pro

Tweet @miacmarino with all your study abroad packing questions

Submitted by Mia, Abroad101 Global Ambassador in Sydney, Australia