3 Ways to Make Packing Easier

Feb 20, 2018 10:30:00 AM / by Irene Kanthan

CAPA_Jolena Hou_Shanghai_Headshot.jpg

Jolena is an official CAPA vlogger for spring 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Finance and International Business major at University of Pittsburgh, she is studying abroad in Shanghai this semester.

In her first post, Jolena lists 3 packing tips to help you start your study abroad journey on the right track.


I have had my suitcases out and open on my floor for the past two weeks because I just can't seem to commit. There are way too many things I need and too little space in these rolling boxes. Why am I even writing about packing when I'm struggling with it myself? So that you and I can read this now and then probably read about all the things I didn't need later. Today I'll be sharing three packing tips I've read/received. Hopefully it'll help those who plan to study abroad or travel!

CAPAStudyAbroad_Shanghai_Spring2018_From Jolena Hou - Predeparture_1.pngYou can find a packing list on Pinterest.

1. Get a Packing List

First off, I have too many clothes. And when it comes down to narrowing them down, you might as well be asking me to pick my favorite child. Along with this I'm a major procrastinator, so I've been putting off packing for as long as possible. But because I am planning on being abroad for about five or so months (traveling after my semester ends), I really can't procrastinate this (as much as I'm trying to). My first tip is to write a list of what you need and tape it up on the wall. If you're lazy like I am, just pull one off of Pinterest or Google! BAM! Your essential needs are written out for you so you won't forget them. For China, there were a couple of packing lists up on Pinterest already (made my life 10 times easier); I also looked up the weather for the months I'll be there and modified the list based on that.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Shanghai_Spring2018_From Jolena Hou - Predeparture_2.pngCreate a purchasing list on your phone.

2. Start a List of What to Buy Abroad

My second packing tip would be to forget the shower and laundry stuff at home. Towels take up a lot of room and shampoo, conditioner, and laundry detergent are going to weigh you down. Basics like these can most likely be bought abroad, no matter where you go. While making my packing list I also started a list of what to buy when I get to China right on my phone. Now I have what I need at my fingertips and can easily add to it whenever. If you have favorite hair, body, or makeup products it's probably best to just purchase them at home because some brands won't be sold in certain countries–but definitely laundry soap, toothpaste, shampoo, and conditioner, are for the most part similar no matter what country you go to.

For the airline I'm flying through I'm allowed two check in bags, a carry on, and a personal item. What I've decided on is one big suitcase, a carry-on suitcase, and my backpack. I know I'm going to shop (a lot), so I want to also leave room in my bags. Honestly, it's been a tough time eliminating clothes but it's doable, if you just go with what will pair with most of your clothes.

3. Be Efficient with Space

My final tip, if you have a lot of clothes like I do, it's probably a great idea to get vacuum-sealed bags that save room in your suitcase. If you're lazy like me, rolling your clothes is the next best option. It allows you to fit way more stuff and I think it neatly displays what clothes you are bringing. If it weren't for rolling my stuff up I wouldn't be able to fit my 12 pairs of shoes and fur coat.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Shanghai_Spring2018_From Jolena Hou - Packed Bag.jpgSuitcase all packed up. 🙂

I believe I've covered everything I've learned when it comes to packing; to recap, make lists and be efficient with space! Our dorms in Shanghai also have laundry rooms–much like the average American university's dorms–so an excessive amount of stuff really isn't practical if you can wash and re-wear your favorite items.

Well, this is where I'll leave off today—and I'll be back soon enough (in China)!

Thanks Jolena!

Sarah's journey continues every Tuesday so stay tuned.

Learn More about the CAPA Shanghai Program

Topics: Shanghai, China, Predeparture & Study Abroad Preparations