So you’re getting ready for your very first study abroad experience? Congratulations! While we are sure you’ve got your study abroad packing list ready with all the necessary items, there are always a few essentials that get overlooked. So, with suggestions from those who have studied abroad before, we’re covering a list of things to buy before studying abroad so you’re ready for anything!
Things to buy before studying abroad
1. Specific Hair Products
There are certain items that are simply smart things to get before studying abroad – your specific hair products are some of these items. Why? Because hair products are different around the globe. If you have a particular item that is tried and true for YOU, you will miss it when you’re caught in a more humid, or more dry, or more wet climate without your fav hair gel/spray/oil/etc. Why take the time to figure out what local products will work for you, when you already have a trusted product you can bring along.
When you study abroad, it can take time to figure out which stores to shop in and what products to buy. Or maybe you are studying abroad in a more remote location where certain “luxury” items will be hard to find. That’s why you don’t want to leave the US without ensuring you have enough quantity of crucial items to last you at least your first month. An example of one of the most crucial items to buy: DEODORANT!
3. A Breathable Rain Jacket
You will likely come across different weather patterns during your time abroad, but you don’t have the space to pack a variety of coats and jackets for each temperature. So pick something versatile like a breathable rain jacket. It can be worn for windy days, cool evenings, rainy weather, or even layered over heavier sweaters and jackets as needed.
» Columbia Jacket for Women // Men
4. A Durable Backpack and Daypack
Rolling luggage items aren’t always suited for a study abroad trip. Often you’ll be going on different excursions or weekend trips to make the most of your time abroad. That’s why a very essential thing to buy before study abroad is a durable backpack, plus a smaller daypack to carry important items with you instead of leaving them in the hostel.
» Check out our list of great backpacks for study abroad, too!
5. Host Family Gifts
If you will be staying with a host family or have a specific academic advisor you’ll be assigned to, American themed gifts that you can bring with you are smart things to get before studying abroad. You’ll want to share with them a bit of your home country as well, and offer a token of your appreciation for all that they’ve done for you. *link to article about host family gifts?
Don’t forget a goodbye gift for your host family, too!
6. A pair of comfy and versatile shoes/sandals
A study abroad packing list is not complete without having a solid pair of versatile and comfy shoes or sandals (or both). We aren’t talking about a good pair for walking, another good pair for nights out, another good pair for the beach. We are talking about one or two pairs of shoes or sandals that will cover all of the above! Especially needed for those weekend getaways.
» Chacos are great, and so are Tevas
7. A pack (or two) of face/body wipes
Let’s face it, when you travel, you get dirty. Falling asleep on planes, using the window as a pillow on trains, overnights in cabins with barely clean water supply….you’re going to want a way to keep your face and hands (and maybe even body) clean! Make sure to buy your favorite face wipes, hand wipes, body wipes, whatever wipes you need to help you stay hygienic while you travel.
8. Clothing you can layer
When you live in a different county, you can never be sure about the weather and how you will adjust to it. If you don’t already have clothes you can easily layer, now’s the time to get some. Leggings (or thermal underwear if you’re going somewhere cold!), tanks, tees, button or zip up sweaters, and at least one good hoodie are all things you need before studying abroad.
9. Other specific toiletries you can’t imagine going weeks without
Really think about this. What would you cry over if you land in a place and the local supermarkets or corner stores don’t stock your needed toiletries? These are the other crucial items to buy. Typically the list might include feminine hygiene products (especially tampons), medicated products, products for sensitive skin, or even toilet paper.
10. A comfort item
Homesickness is a bit inevitable wherever you go. No matter how much fun you are having, there will always be a few nights where you are missing the comforts of your own home. So bring a comfort with you – maybe a very American food item or sweet, your go-to movie or book, a small photo album of your favorite people — anything that can cheer you up like a good familiar hug would.
Your study abroad packing list is just getting started!
Besides your standard packing list, we hope we helped you figure out all the essential and overlooked things you need before studying abroad! And who knows, you may even find some new favorite items in your host city or town that you’ll want to bring back. So make sure to leave a little space in your luggage for the return trip home 😉
To recap, here’s our list of things to buy before studying abroad:
- Specific Hair Products
- A Breathable Rain Jacket
- A Durable Backpack and Daypack
- Host Family Gifts
- A pair of comfy and versatile shoes/sandals
- A pack (or two) of face/body wipes
- Clothing you can layer
- Other specific toiletries you can’t imagine going weeks without
- A comfort item