Preparing to study abroad can be stressful. Luckily for you, I’ve compiled a list of 25 items that I thought were really essential for my experience studying abroad.

study abroad

Studying abroad was undoubtedly the highlight of my college career. There were many things I learned and loved about my experience living in a foreign country.

Something I greatly underestimated was how much work the process itself was. If you are about to study abroad or thinking about it, check out my post Things To Consider Before You Study Abroad.

These items won’t be all you need before your great adventure abroad, but they are some of the more unusual or easily forgettable essentials that I wanted to remind you to bring!

Hopefully, these 25 Things You Need Before You Study Abroad will help make your educational journey abroad a smoother transition.

Here are 25 Things You Need to Get Before You Study Abroad

1. A Universal Travel Adapter

This travel adapter is my favorite to travel with because it works in the UK, Europe, Asia, Australia, and the US! If you can only buy one thing for your trip abroad, I would consider this the most essential for your study abroad adventure.

Actually, I always travel with 2! If you use something that blows it out, like a hairdryer or curling iron, then it can be a pain to have to wait in the mail for 1-2 weeks to get a replacement. So I highly recommend always traveling with a backup.

I also love this adapter because it has 4 USB ports rather than the traditional 2. This can be very handy, especially if you plan on traveling around in hostels during your time abroad.

2. A Quality Backpack

Since you are going to study abroad, you are probably going to want to travel around a bit! Luggage fees on airlines can cost you a pretty penny if you aren’t careful. I spent 6 months backpacking Europe and didn’t spend a dime on luggage fees.

Before I left for my backpacking trip, I knew I needed something that was completely functional and was the highest quality. I spent about a year before I left doing oodles of research on the best backpacks in the world. The conclusion came to be Osprey.

study abroad

The backpack I specifically have is an Osprey Porter 46. It fit on every airline and was totally functional to live out of for months. The weight distribution on this bag is incredible and it never feels like your carrying as much as you are.

It’s important to find the best backpack for you. If you’re a 5’3 female like I am, this bag will be perfect for you. However, if you are tall and/or are a man, you may find a bag you can carry more with. Osprey has tons of options.

3. Feminine Hygiene Products

So this one is for the women. Feminine hygiene products are something you wouldn’t think to stock up on, but the products vary by country. Your study abroad country may supply products that have the same function, but they may look or feel different. Luckily, I read this beforehand on a blog post and brought 6 months worth with me

I’m sure whichever country you are going to has something that will work, but just consider researching it before you leave.

4. A Journal

You will certainly want to document your exciting and new experience abroad! I know a journal can be a bit old school, but you will be so happy once you’re older to look back on this experience.

study abroad things to get

5. A Good Camera

Obviously you can use your camera on your phone to capture your moments abroad. However, if you are wanting to step up your photography, this is the camera I brought along on my travels when I was just starting out.

There, of course, are more advanced cameras you can buy, but I used this camera for 4 years and I still think it’s great. The only downside is it’s a little bulky for traveling, but I made it work! Here are a couple of photos of my travels I’ve captured with it. (Photos were edited in lightroom as well).

6. A Laptop

If you are a student, you may already have this. I’m sure that studying abroad is possible without a laptop, but it just may make things a little more difficult for you with everything online these days.

The laptop that I’ve had forever is a Microsoft Surface Book. The best thing about it is, it’s SO light. Perfect for traveling. My friend who traveled with a mac book always complained about how heavy it was. So if you are shopping around, try to pick a light laptop if you plan on traveling a lot.

7. Quart Sized Zip Lock Bags

All liquids are required to fit in 1 single quart-sized bag for your flight. It’s a good idea to stock up on these baggies if you intend on traveling a lot while you are studying abroad. Maybe bring 10-15 baggies, and try to reuse on your travels as much as possible.

8. Travel Bottles for Liquids

Liquids overall are just such a pain to travel with. These bottles make things a little easier, especially if your favorite liquid products don’t come in travel sizes.

9. Credit Card

This can be a very underestimated necessity while traveling. Credit cards are almost a must for travelers. They offer SO many benefits that will make your life so much easier.

When you use a debit card for a purchase in a foreign country, or you use it to withdraw from an ATM, you are charged a fee every time you swipe that card.

A credit card that you want to look for is one that does not charge you any foreign transaction fees. Without a credit card to save you those foreign transaction fees, they can really add up if you are traveling for a long period of time.

Other benefits some credit cards can offer is travel insurance, car rental insurance, and points towards free flights. Of course, these all depend on the credit card company of choice. I have a Capital One Venture One and love it!

study abroad

10. Headphones/earbuds

Need I say more? Public transportation is a headache in itself, the least you can do is invest in a good pair oh headphones to cancel out the noise.

11. Water Bottle

You know what they say, hydrate or diedrate!! A quality water bottle is essential for any type of traveling. It is very important to stay hydrated, especially as you explore the new city that you’re studying in!

study abroad

12. Extra Phone Chargers

I would recommend traveling with 2 phone chargers. The same kind of deal with the travel adapter, a phone charger is not something you want to be without. You could leave it somewhere or it can stop working, and you may be somewhere where replacing it is not immediate.

My phone charger quit working while I was waiting for a train in Paris. It was very stressful scrambling around searching for one in fear of missing my train!

study abroad things to get

13. Swimsuit

This may seem rather random but you never know when you’re going to take a dip!

Swimsuits are small and easy to stuff in your bag, it may be worth having one just in case. Even if you are studying somewhere cold and not tropical, you could find a super cheap flight to Lisbon or Morocco and definitely want to go for a swim!

14. Tennis shoes and/or Hiking Shoes

One time I ended up in a situation where I was in the mountains of Norway with nothing but a couple of pairs of sandals. Amazon was not accessible and I ended up dropping over $200 at the only hiking store in town. Not exactly a backpacker’s budget!

Hiking is one of the most spectacular and underrated things you can do during your time abroad. I would research your destination, and consider if hiking is something you want to do on your adventure. If so, I would definitely bring a good pair of hiking shoes.

I knew before I tackled this hike that investing in some quality hiking shoes was a must. One little slip and well… you can clearly see what would have happened.

15. Unlocked Cell Phone OR Sim Card + International Phone Plan

Be sure to research your specific cell phone and how it will work in the country you’re going abroad to.

I have an Iphone and I made sure to get it unlocked and also sign up for a phone company that I knew would have good international rates. I actually switched my phone plan from AT&T to T-mobile specifically for T-mobile’s international rates, which were considerably cheaper.

If you aren’t careful, your phone plan can costs you thousands of dollars in extra international fees.

16. Travel Insurance

If you are going abroad through a program with your school, they *should have insurance included within your fees. However, if you plan on traveling before or after your term, your school insurance likely will not cover it! Travel insurance is extremely important for your finances and your health.

Some people don’t use it at all, but if you have my luck, you’ll go to the hospital like 6 times during your trip and be so thankful you had it. Better to be safe than sorry!

17. Luggage Tags and Labels.

Basically everything I own has my name, phone number, and e-mail address written all over it. If I’m being honest, I lose things quite often. So, it’s important that I cover my bases in case things get lost or misplaced.

Luggage tags and labels will come especially handy if your bags get lost at the airport. Unfortunately, this happens pretty often!

I would also recommend using labels on anything remotely expensive or valuable to you – your camera, journal, cell phone, etc.

Don’t forget to include your last name so people can find you on Facebook, your country code before your phone number, and your e-mail in case they can’t contact you via phone number.

Washi tape is a great way to label things. Scotch brand definitely makes the best quality that sticks.

study abroad things to get

study abroad things to get

18. A Small Variety of Clothing Options

This is probably rather obvious, but you want to include varied options of clothes. Clothing is one of those things that you can really get anywhere you’re studying abroad. So don’t stress if you aren’t packing absolutely every clothing item you think you may need.

You will definitely want to pack accordingly to the weather that will be most prominent during the time in your study abroad destination. Then, maybe include some tropical or winter wear if you plan on traveling to other countries with different climates.

study abroad things to get

19. Towels & Sheets

My dorm at the college I studied abroad at was pretty bare. It didn’t have pots, pans, plates, towels, bed-sheets…. nothing!

However, there were options that you can buy from the school to have these things provided for you upon arrival. Some packages can be rather expensive, but it may be worth it to lighten your packing.

You can also mix and match your packages if that is an option. I opted to bring my own towels but purchased bed sheets from my university. My flatmates and I all chipped in for kitchen items on our own and just bought them in town when we arrived.

20. Extras of EVERYTHING! Medicine, Contacts, Retainers, Glasses, etc.

So, I’m a Capricorn, which means I try to be totally prepared for everything. My friend who traveled with me is not and had to deal with getting some of these things abroad, which took a lot of time, money, and stress.

It’s not that you can’t access these things in most countries, but it can just be a bit more difficult. You’ll need to stock up on contacts, birth control, any special type of medication, and anything else that is particular for you and more tricky to get abroad.

If you have to wear a retainer at night, consider getting a backup just in case you lose yours. It’s a good idea to have a second pair of glasses as well.

21. A Light Foldable Jacket

Even if you are going somewhere warm, a light jacket can be a lifesaver. Public transportation always freezes me out. I had a tiny foldable jacket that really came in handy when I didn’t need my big winter coat and just wanted something light.

22. Small Umbrella

I got some serious backlash when traveling for carrying a small umbrella. Backpackers told me it was a waste of space! I did not regret it one bit. I tried to tough it out with just a small rain jacket, and it did not go well. What can I say, I’m an umbrella snob.

study abroad things to get

23. Microfiber Towel

So, I know I already mentioned towels and sheets, however, a microfiber towel is really essential if you plan on doing any sort of traveling around during your time abroad.

Microfiber towels are not cozy and fluffy like the shower towels were are use to at home. But, they are very small and fold-able, also they dry out quickly and don’t get that moldy smell like a normal towel would if you tried packing it.

Rainleaf is my absolute favorite brand. The towels run VERY small though, so just do yourself a favor and get an XXL. It can also double up as a great beach towel.

24. Sunglasses

You’ll definitely want some sunnies for the long flight ahead!

25. A Planner

I’m a big fan of planners to keep track of my studies and my travels! I’m obsessed with the Happy Planner’s mini travel sized planners.

To make the decision to study abroad is such an exciting adventure one can experience – make sure to enjoy every bit of it!

Don’t spend too much time stressing if you don’t pack absolutely everything on this list. If you forget something, Amazon Prime is your bestie!

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