How to Pack When Traveling Abroad

May 29, 2017 5:30:00 PM / by Julie Ritz

CAPA_CatGloria_Dublin_Headshot.pngCat Gloria is an official CAPA blogger for summer 2017, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Journalism major at the University of Florida, she is studying abroad in Dublin this semester.

In her first post, Cat gives us her best packing advice, from suitcase sizes to ways to fit extra clothes.


Traveling abroad for the first time can be a nerve-wracking experience when it comes to packing. What to bring, what not to bring, how many suitcases to gets overwhelming. Here are some quick tips to make sure you pack light and pack right!

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1. Start off with the right suitcase

For a week long trip one small suitcase may suffice, but if you’re going on a three-month trip like I am you may need more space. Many students traveling abroad for a long time bring at least two suitcases, but if you’re on a budget, one is enough.

Don’t forget to review the size restrictions for the airline you’re flying with. Being within the restrictions, but utilizing the most space is important. I chose to go with one large suitcase to save money.

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2. Pack based on situations

Think: what are you going to be doing on your trip? Pick outfits for each situation you’ll be in. If you’ll be sightseeing a lot you may want to pack sneakers comfortable for walking. If you plan on going out-on-the-town each night, a pair of heels will do you good. Research the weather in whatever country you’re traveling to and pack clothes acceptable for the season, but also pack other clothes in case it changes day to day.

I am traveling to Ireland so many warm clothes are necessary, but I still packed a pair of shorts just in case! 

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There’s a reason this is in capital letters. The most important tip I can give you is to not pack your whole life into your suitcase! Packing one to two outfits for any situation is enough depending on how long you’re staying. For a three-month trip I am only packing enough clothes for a week because I have access to a washer and dryer.

If you love to shop, especially abroad, that’s even more reason to pack light. If you fill your suitcase along the way, by the time you have to come home you’ll need to buy another suitcase just to fit your new clothes. For those of you who have a lot of clothes they can’t do without while traveling, look into using vacuum seal bags to fit more in your suitcase.

As for things besides clothing, I brought my journalism bible and my camera for work. Both are heavy and large, but I can’t live without them. If you’re going on a long trip, you may need things for where you’re staying like a towel, a few adapters and some hangers. However, if you can buy it there (shampoo, soap, etc.), don’t pack it!

The one thing you should pack is a piece of paper with your name, address and phone number just in case your luggage gets lost along the way. I’m all packed and I still have room for souvenirs!

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4. Utilize your carry-on

You thought you were done packing, but no. You can’t forget about your carry-on luggage. You know, what they let you bring on the plane with you! Depending on the airline the carry-on size restrictions will differ; so know that ahead of time. Bring a bag that provides plenty of space for all of your belongings. Since there are weight restrictions for checked luggage, I suggest packing anything you have that’s small yet heavy into your carry-on. Liquids (under three ounces), notebooks, your laptop, and any chargers can all go into your carry-on.      

Anything of extra importance to you should be in your carry-on in event that your checked bag is lost forever. Things like the necklace that your grandmother gave you, your expensive makeup, anything of value. Most importantly are your passport, VISA and any other documents that your life depends on. I also suggest bringing small luggage locks for your carry-on especially when traveling internationally. Simply lock the ends of the zippers together to ensure no one pickpockets you ending your fun time abroad.

Now that’s a good-looking carry-on.

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5. Don’t wait to pack

Packing can take longer than you would have thought. Pack a couple days before leaving and check the night before to make sure you’ve got everything you need for a successful trip!

Now go, start packing!

Thanks Cat!

Cat's journey continues every Monday so stay tuned.

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Topics: Dublin, Ireland, Predeparture & Study Abroad Preparations