With your passport in hand and your itinerary set, get ready to head out for your semester abroad. While a great adventure awaits you, figuring out what to pack—and how to pack it—can be challenging. That's why it's important to pack smart using these seven pro packing tips.

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Tip 1: Study Where You’re Going

The biggest rookie traveler mistake is not doing the proper research on where you are headed. While it is easy to look up average weather and climates, do you know what it is really like to live in this new geographic location? For example, have you studied up on the little details such as if you will be walking on cobblestones (which may mean disaster if you have a suitcase full of high heels)?Continue your research by reading past student experiences from your program or a similar program in your new region. Take note of important information such as if they unexpectedly needed a ton of rain gear or relied on walking to navigate their new city.

Tip 2: Make a Complete Shopping List

Some academic study abroad programs offer traveling students helpful shopping lists that give a good idea of the necessities. However, those whose programs don't may want to create a complete, organized list of needed items before starting the process. Start by writing down everything and anything you may think you will need—including extra school supplies, an additional blanket, or backup batteries for your electronics. Once you have your list, use your research to pare it down. For example, if past travelers noted that their dorm room felt unsafe, pick up a suitcase lock.

Tip 3: Find the Perfect Travel Luggage

Your packing is only as good as the bags and cases in which you store your items. Your luggage should be extra-durable to travel over a variety of terrains and light enough to lift and carry easily when packed.You should also note any luggage restrictions your airline or program may have. Some only allow two large bags of a certain weight and size. Failure to heed these restrictions may mean charges or fines.

Tip 4: Roll, Don’t Fold

Any packing pro will tell you the secret to saving space in your suitcase is the "roll" method. Simply lay your clothing out flat in a stack of several items (such as three pairs of jeans, ten t-shirts, or five or six dresses) and then roll tightly from the bottom up. Lay the rolls vertical instead of horizontal to conserve even more empty area in your suitcase.

Tip 5: Use Every Bit of Space

Your suitcase’s tiny pockets and unused inches are prime real estate when packing for a semester abroad. Wrap the rolled up clothing with scarves or other cold weather gear. You can even go as far as stuffing your socks and underwear in your shoes.

Tip 6: Forget the Purchasables

You may love your expensive shampoo or worry that your new country of residence will not have a supply of your favorite soap. But do not be tempted to pack these items unless absolutely necessary. Purchasable items such as razors, toiletries, and other personal items can be bought when you arrive and will help you cut down on bulk and weight in your luggage.

Tip 7: Avoid Stacking

If you’re a reader, or if you are required to purchase your textbooks in advance, you may have to consider just how to get these space wasters from one country to the next. Where most travelers go wrong is by placing books on top of books. This only creates heaviness that will make your bag harder to lug around an airport. Spread out your essential books in various bags instead, and even consider carrying on a book in your arm to save even more room in your handbag.Packing to study abroad does not have to be a scary ordeal. By anticipating your needs, planning properly, and following some simple packing tricks of the trade, you can cut down on what isn’t necessary and focus on the essentials. With lighter suitcases in hand, you’ll be ready to bring back great souvenirs and even better memories.What are some of your packing tips for students traveling abroad? Share your best packing secrets in the comments section below!Image 1

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May 18, 2015
College Life

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