If you’re starting a year abroad in the next few months you may have started thinking about what you need to take with you. This can be a daunting task, so I thought I’d share a few tips on what to take (and not take) from my experience. If you’re flying to your destination country, you will be limited by the weight restriction for your luggage and paying for excess luggage is expensive, so it’s important to pack light.
Remember you don’t need to take your whole wardrobe with you. Unless you’re going to be studying on a desert island, there will be shops where you are going so you don’t need to take all your clothes with you. Find out what the equivalent of Primark is in the country you’re going to where you can pick up some cheap clothes that will last you the year and can be donated to a charity shop at the end of the year. You’ll also probably end up with lots of free t-shirts from joining clubs and going to events throughout your time as a student.
That being said, it may take you a bit of time once you’ve arrived before you work out where is best to go clothes shopping so make sure you are prepared for the weather when you arrive. This is especially important if you’re going to the Southern Hemisphere as it will be winter when you arrive, so make sure you remember to take a coat when you leave British summer behind.
When you arrive after a long flight, you’ll probably want to have a shower so make sure you have some shower gel handy so you don’t need to find a shop first. Having said that, toiletries are heavy so don’t take loads with you as they will take up a lot of weight allowance. As with clothes, there will be shops where you are going so you don’t need to take a year’s supply of toothpaste.
Trying to fit all the clothes you want to take into your suitcase can be a challenging task, but investing in some vacuum bags can help you to condense them down. You simply fill them with clothes, seal them and remove the air with a hoover, reducing the volume a lot. They are an inexpensive way to maximise your weight allowance and fit more in to your suitcase.
One helpful piece of advice that I read before starting my year abroad was to get a big folder to keep all your paperwork in and this is something that has proved useful throughout the year. You’ll be surprised by the amount of different paperwork you accumulate, covering everything including visas, flight tickets, accommodation contracts, university confirmation details, bank accounts, student finance, Erasmus funding and travel insurance. The list is endless! Therefore it is important to have somewhere to organise all the paperwork in one place to help you to stay on top of it. Before you leave, make sure that you have everything you need for enrolling at your university when you arrive and check if there is anything you need to show at the border when you arrive and pack it in your hand luggage where it’s easy to find.
Make sure you have some plug adaptors for the country you’re going to so that you can keep all your gadgets full of juice. It’s helpful to take a UK extension lead with you, so you can charge a few things from one plug adaptor. This will probably save you a bit of money on adaptors and is useful if you don’t have lots of plug sockets in your room.
Make sure you have enough cash with you to last a couple of weeks. It will take some time to get a bank account set up once you arrive and then could take a while for your bank card to arrive in the post, so don’t end up running out of money before then. Setting up an account in the country you’re going to is something you should do, it’s much cheaper than making payments with a British card which your bank will probably charge you for every time.
Don’t leave it all until the last minute!
Make sure you start packing early, it will take longer than you think it’s going to. On the morning of my flight to New Zealand I was still trying to get my bags down to the required weight which was very stressful and something I don’t recommend.
I hope these tips have helped you and that you have an amazing year abroad!