How to Pack Effectively for Your Semester Abroad

girl with suitcase

Taking a semester abroad can be one of the best and most exciting times of your life. But before you get there you have to think about packing. It may not seem like a difficult task but making sure you have everything you need while also keeping the baggage to a minimum can be somewhat of a balancing act. So hopefully these tips can help you pack for your semester abroad, and get you on your way to a life changing adventure.

Make a Plan

If you know that on your trip you are going to be doing certain activities, make sure you plan accordingly. You are essentially moving for a semester so you don’t want to be unprepared for any activities you might participate in, for example: hiking, building houses, or any community service opportunities. These activities could change what you decide to pack. The best way to make sure you pack appropriately is to do your research and get to know the program you’ll be participating in. Ideally, you have been accepted into a program that includes extracurricular activities you enjoy, but there is always the possibility you will be trying new things as well, so look carefully at the itinerary and make sure you are packed for everything.

Make a List

This is probably the most important thing you can do. Creating or finding a checklist will help you map out what you really need and what you can leave behind. One thing that really helps is to lay out everything you want to bring on your bed and narrow it down from there. If you see that you have seven pairs of pants maybe you can cut back to three. Doing this will save you a lot of time and energy in the long run. Don’t forget you can always buy more shoes when you get there!

Think About the Weather

This is super important! You want to make sure if you are traveling to a cold country you are packing accordingly. Wearing extra layers on the flight is a good way to create space in your bag. Also, don’t forget to pack a hat and mittens. If you are going to a warm weather destination you want to make sure to still pack a jacket in case the weather turns, but overall you should have some more space for warm weather clothing. You also want to make sure to bring sunglasses, a summer hat, and a bathing suit.

Downsize and Utilize

Being able to downsize everything is really helpful for packing. Rather than bringing a computer, bring a tablet. Rolling your clothes or vacuum packing them can make more space in your bag as well. Also make sure you use every inch of space you have. Stuff smaller items in shoes and hats, and make sure any toiletry containers you bring are compact and completely full. A half-empty bottle of shampoo is a waste of space, so investing in a new one or transferring it to a smaller bottle will make a huge difference.


These are just a few helpful tips that will help you pack for your semester abroad, and have an awesome travel experience. One last thing, make sure you leave some room in your bag to bring home souvenirs! Cherish your time traveling and make the most of your journey. If you have any packing tips of your own, please share them in the comments!


Guest writer:

Amanda_EarleyAJ Earley is a freelance writer and travel junkie from Boise, Idaho. 

twitter: @ajvworld