What NOT to Pack for a Semester Abroad

Feb 2, 2020 9:30:00 AM / by Emma Estabrook

It can be tempting to overpack for a semester abroad, especially when you don't know exactly what to expect and want to be prepared for everything. However, you'll find that you can live with a lot less while abroad, and you can always buy what you need in-country if you forget something. Find out some of Sydney blogger Emma's tips on what not to pack:

Let get the logistical things out of the way. There are a few things that you objectively just don’t need to bring when you are packing to go to Australia! Usually when you are travelling overseas there is a standard two bags that you are allowed to check each 50 pounds. It is important to not overpack to avoid expensive last-minute fees in the airport! My carry-on bag was too big on my flight leaving for Australia and the airline I was flying tried to charge me $250 for an extra bag check (luckily my parents were there to help me downsize in the airport). ALSO you will definitely be bringing back souvenirs and gifts so it’s important to have room for that stuff!

CAPAStudyAbroad_Sydney_Spring 2020_Emma Estabrook_SydneyStreetArtThere is a lot of really cool street art in Sydney like this!

These are some things you should try not to bring when packing for a semester abroad in Australia:

1. Mace and Pepper Spray- These things are ILLEGAL in Australia so definitely do not waste precious suitcase space bringing either of these!

2. Hair Straighteners, Curlers, and Dryers- Even if you bring them and buy an adaptor that works in Australia, the voltage differences will cause the devices to malfunction and break! It is not worth the risk especially when there are very cheap options to buy any of these when you arrive. My apartment also came with a hair dryer!

3. Towels- Towels can take up a lot of space in your bag when traveling. There is no need to bring these when you can purchase them very cheaply here! Also, my living accommodation provides us bath towels that we can also take to the beach.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Sydney_Spring 2020_Emma Estabrook_CoogiBeachThe first beach we went to was called Coogi Beach. We used our Opal cards (complimentary of CAPA) to take public transportation to get to it!

CAPAStudyAbroad_Sydney_Spring 2020_Emma Estabrook_CoogiCliffsWe took a nice walk along the cliffs at Coogi Beach.

4. Food- Food and grocery shopping in Australia is cheap especially when the American dollar outweighs the Australian like it does for me now. My mom bought be a bunch of my favorite foods for me to bring and they ended up being easily available here for cheap!

5. Bulky Work Clothes- It is no secret that Australia is HOT. A big packing mistake that I made was packing work clothes that are suited for working in the North. If you are doing an internship it is important to ask your boss beforehand what the dress code for work is! If it is “casual” or “smart casual” some nice sandals and modest dresses are the perfect workplace attire for girls that do well in the heat. Even if your company requires more professional attire you will thank yourself for investing in some light and breathable work shirts.

6. Too Much of Anything- Studying abroad can be a great time to simplify your life. You don’t need to bring every single pair of shoes you own. Try to get out of the “just in case” mindset and just pack the things you know you are going to need. If you really didn’t pack something there are always places to buy things here! Also, it is great to be able to swap around clothes with your roommate if you want to mix up your style instead of bringing everything you own.

Sydney has some AMAZING shopping opportunities that you do not want to miss out on! There are so many new and fun brands that you can’t find in the US you will definitely be picking up a few things while you are here so make sure you have enough space in your bag to take some extra items back!

CAPAStudyAbroad_Sydney_Spring 2020_Emma Estabrook_DarlingHarbourI pass this building on my way to work every day.

CAPAStudyAbroad_Sydney_Spring 2020_Emma Estabrook_MyInterviewThis is my desk at work!

Thanks, Emma!

Minh Ta


Emma Estabrook is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2020, sharing her story in frequent posts on CAPA World. A Finance and Business Information Systems major at the University of Pittsburgh, she is studying abroad in Sydney this semester.

Emma's journey continues all semester so stay tuned.

Learn More about the CAPA Sydney Program

Topics: Sydney, Australia, Predeparture & Study Abroad Preparations