Your accommodation is sorted, your classes signed up for and your plane tickets booked, now comes the hardest part – packing for your year abroad.
These handy tips will help you organise your belongings so you only take what you actually need, making packing less stressful and your bag much lighter.
- Have at least 3 photocopies of important documents
Have multiple photocopies of your passport, visa, driving licence, health insurance and plane tickets and keep them on your person at all times while travelling. Once you’re settled, find a safe place to store the actual documents and give out photocopies to important people such as your tutor, accommodation officer or host family. Keep one copy for yourself just in case you need the details.
- Hand luggage
Take a rucksack or duffle bag as your hand luggage that you can also use for day trips. Pack a spare change of clothes, home and foreign money, basic toiletries and all your important documents, including flight tickets and the address of where you’re going. If your main luggage is delayed or lost you’ll have enough to survive with.
Make sure you bring enough of any prescription medication such as the pill, epilepsy tablets or insulin to last you your stay. Double check you can bring them into your host country and get a doctor’s note as proof.
- Ship larger items
Take your essentials with you on the flight. If you have any bulky items that you won’t need immediately, it’s definitely worth shipping them over to arrive after you’ve settled in.
Be realistic with clothes – you will not need 4 pairs of strappy sandals. Consider the activities you’re going to be doing and seasonality to pack accordingly. Take items that can be layered, dry quickly and are easy to clean. Some smarter clothes and shoes are also a good idea for any formal dinners or events, plus some comfortable shoes for sight-seeing.
“For about 6 months of the year it was really, really cold! As a result, I had to pack for all climates especially as when I arrived it was around 30 degrees. I ended up buying snow boats and a down filled coat when I was out there as it was cheaper and saved luggage space on the flight over – the only issue was getting it back home after my year! Zip-lock vacuum bags were a life-saver when it came to packing as they squeezed everything down so less space was taken up with things like jumpers, but even so, the weight was still a problem on planes and it can get very expensive very quickly.”
Unless you’re very particular about the toiletries you use, buy big bottles in your host country. You might not get the same brand but you’ll find something similar. Take small travel versions to tide you over until you can get to a local supermarket.
A laptop and portable hard drive, phone and camera, plus corresponding cables or spare batteries are essential. It’s easy enough to buy a foreign phone or sim card or if you’d rather use your own, then make sure to get it unlocked.
Be wary of bringing large hairdryers, straighteners or curling tongs as different countries use different voltage systems, which can cause them to malfunction. Remember to bring enough adapters for all your electronics too or you won’t be using them at all.
An mp3 player, Kindle or other e-reader and pack of cards will be your best friend during long delays. Don’t bother with actual books – they’re heavy and take up valuable space. E-books are cheap to buy and offer a huge range of choice without the hassle of lugging them around.
Some favourite DVDs, a beloved teddy or family photo can be a great comfort when you’re feeling lonely. Make sure to bring your address book, stamps, blank paper and envelopes for sending letters or postcards back home.
- Student ID
You’d be surprised at how many discounts are available to students and the money can really add up over time. Make sure to bring your university student card, an ISIC if you have it and Young Person’s Rail card to get access to great student offers.
Moving abroad for any length of time is stressful, especially when you don’t know exactly what to expect.
Andrews Shipping offer student shipping to the UK and globally, plus we have a storage service if you have bulky items you need to keep safe.