My name is Josie, I’ll be writing a column for Coulture throughout my semester abroad. This September, I will be flying to Norwich, England, where I will spend three months studying, traveling, taking pictures, and writing everything down so you can experience it with me! I will be studying at the University of East Anglia; term begins September 26! Throughout the summer I’ve been reading up on travel tips and packing guides.
Here are the 10 most useful tips I have come across:
1. Read up on baggage regulations and allotments
Depending on the country you’re going to, the airline you are traveling through, etc. your baggage fees and allotments may be different than what you think. When you book your ticket, look at the baggage information to understand just how much (or how little) you can pack. It is also important to check other airlines’ baggage information if you know you will be traveling a lot during your time abroad. You don’t want to go away only to find out the day-pack you spent $150 on exceeds regulations.
2. Look at your school’s website
As you’re beginning this magnificent journey, remember that you have a lot of information available to you. Browse your new school’s websites for information on what is provided in your room and what you will need to pack. It is also smart to look at your schools recommended/banned items list. While most things on the list are normal (no illegal substances, etc.) some things might surprise you! My school doesn’t allow any soft furnishings (rugs, tapestries, etc.) because they increase fire hazard. Another great resource that you may be able to find online is a linen/necessity package that would be delivered at your dorm before you move in.
3. Meet house/floor mates
While the prior tips were geared towards on-campus students, a good tip for everyone is to try and talk to your house/floor/flat mates. Meeting the people you will be living with, via email or Facebook, is a good opportunity to reduce the cost of living by deciding to share some housing necessities like cookware or cleaning supplies. This will also ease your nerves about moving to a country where you don’t know anyone!
4. Remember that you will be shopping in your host country
When packing for school in the states, you can pack one or two car loads to fill up your dorm. When packing to go abroad, you get 1-2 suitcases and a carry-on. Don’t try and put cookware, a lamp, or a duvet in your suitcase – anything for your dorm can be bought in your new country. If buying all new things in a country is financially stressful for you, reach out to school officials who may have some information about cheaper options. UEA has a “Pots and Pans” sale in the beginning of the year, so that essential dorm items past students donated can be sold cheaply to students who need them now.
5. Know what to put in your carry-on
You land in your host country after hours upon hours of traveling. All you want to do is get your luggage and leave the airport behind, but your luggage doesn’t come. You find out that your bag won’t arrive for a few days – are you prepared for that? Carry-ons are not meant to be overflowing with the answer to every possible problem, however you should plan for some scenarios.
6. My carry-on packing list looks like this:
- Wallet with my state ID, school ID, passport, CAS, health insurance card, emergency contact list, credit cards, debit cards, some U.S. currency, some British pounds, boarding passes for my next flight, and a few band-aids.
- Folder with copies of all documentation, some currency and either a debit or credit card (in the event that my wallet gets lost or stolen, it is doubtful I would lose a folder in my backpack), my itinerary, future boarding passes, and a bank statement (for my visa).
- Enough clothes for two days, a Therm-a-rest compressible pillow, toiletries, a washcloth (in a ziplock bag in the event I need to use it while still traveling), Sea to Summit microfiber towel, laptop and charger, phone and charger, eye mask, and a cocoon travel sheet (in case I need to sleep before I get the chance to get formal bedding from the city).
7. Pack for the weather you will experience
If you’re like me, you like to consider every scenario and be prepared. A better approach is to narrow down the likely scenarios into what an average day will be like for you, especially when considering the weather. The average weather for my time abroad will be 30-65 degrees Fahrenheit, with rain probable most days. Trying to reflect this new weather pattern, I will be trading out space in my suitcase from shorts to a Northface rain jacket.
8. Pack for the activities you will be doing
On a daily basis, I will be walking around my campus going to class. I will be going out with friends at night. On weekends, I will be exploring new cities and towns, as well as hiking and seeing some beautiful landscapes. Unfortunately, nothing about my time abroad says “you should pack your heels” so those will be left at home. If a situation does arise in which I need some fab shoes, I will tramp into Norwich and shop for some.
9. Pack one “style” so everything matches
A tip coming from Coulture founder and Editor-in-Chief, Alexandra Hehlen. When packing your clothes, you want everything to match together so you can work in layers and mismatch your clothes for full-wardrobe style from one suitcase. Her fashion secret is that when she packs, she lays all of her clothes out together to help the visualization. If a piece doesn’t match with at least 3-4 others, she trades it out for something more versatile.
10. Pack what you wear, not what you love to look at in the closet
My room is (quite literally) decorated with clothes I’ve never worn. I have been known to buy beautiful clothes and wait months or years to wear them. These items, no matter how much I love them and want to wear them, will not be making the journey across the pond with me. Instead I will take the shoes I wear every day, my favorite jeans, and my broken in leather jacket.
11. Pack something to ease the homesickness
Leaving behind my puppy, Sebastian (@sebastianthedorkie), will break my heart, but my dorm room wall is covered in cork, so I am packing some photographs to decorate with. The first few days will be exciting and exhausting, but once that wears off I will appreciate having those to look at. My pictures are of my pup, my family, my boyfriend, my job, UNC, my friends, and other things to remind me of day to day life here at home. Other great ideas for things to pack are small trinkets (nothing valuable!) or stuffed animals.
Please share what you think about these packing tips in the comments! If you have any questions about my journey or would like for me to write about something specific, please use our contact form!