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What to Pack

Below is a helpful guide of what to pack. The list should be adjusted according to the length of time you'll be abroad and the seasonal weather you are likely to experience.

Packing List


Most travelers pack too much clothing. Take only what you expect to wear. Bring sturdy clothes that stand up to multiple washings and be sure to bring items that go with most of your other clothes so as to maximize your wardrobe. Although public laundry service is available in most places where students will be staying, it is advisable to bring dark colors that will not readily show the dirt. Your clothing should be hand-washable and require little care.

  • walking shoes
  • flip-flops or shower shoes
  • socks
  • underwear
  • shorts
  • skirt/trousers
  • shirts
  • sweater/sweatshirt
  • rain jacket
  • light jacket
  • bathing suit
  • hat
  • a nice outfit
  • T-shirts (cotton)

Learn about the typical climate of the locations you plan to visit. You can acquire some inexpensive clothing items in your host country that will have the advantage of fitting with current trends in fashion and make you less identifiable as a foreigner.

Also take into consideration clothing that is appropriate and respectful of the local culture.

Medicine and Toiletries

If you choose to put any of the items below in your carry-on luggage, all liquids, gels, and aerosols must be in three-ounce or smaller containers. All such items must also be placed into a single quart-sized, clear, zip-top plastic bag.

  • Prescription medicine: clearly marked with patient name, physician name, drug name, dosage, and written physician prescription explaining the condition and use (NOTE: this may be required in order to bring these medications through customs and into the country)
  • Over-the-counter unopened medication (i.e., any medications that you take on a regular basis or that are especially effective for you). Although your host country may have the same drug, it is probably called something different and may be difficult to identify at your time of need - or not available at all
  • First Aid Kit: include bandages, first aid tape, antiseptic wipes, burn cream, extra-strength aspirin, anti-diarrhea medication, Benadrylâ„¢ or similar antihistamines to treat allergies, and a first aid guide
  • Comb and/or brush
  • Sunscreen, moisturizers, cosmetics, bug repellant
  • Water purification tablets and malaria prophylaxis (if applicable)
  • Deodorant/antiperspirant
  • Razor
  • Tampons/sanitary pads
  • Contraceptives/birth control/prophylactics
  • Eyeglasses, sunglasses, contact lenses and cleaning solution
  • Hand sanitizer


You must declare expensive and/or foreign goods that you will take with you before leaving the United States so that you are not charged duty on them when you return. If you are taking imported articles such as cameras, binoculars, watches, laptops, etc., register these foreign-made articles with Customs (before leaving the U.S.) to avoid extra duty charges upon re-entry.

  • Battery-operated alarm clock
  • Camera and extra memory cards
  • MP3 player
  • Flashlight
  • Address book
  • Travel journal
  • Pocket calculator
  • Books, guides, and maps (be aware certain reading material or literature may offend Customs officials of some countries)
  • Cards and/or games
  • Day pack
  • Laundry soap and line, clothes pins
  • Sewing kit (scissors, if included, must be kept in your checked luggage)
  • Stuff bags, plastic storage bags
  • Hostel sleepsack/sleeping bag
  • Change purse/fanny pack
  • Umbrella
  • TSA-approved luggage lock
  • Luggage tags for each of your bags
  • Batteries
  • Water bottle (make sure it is empty before going through airport security)
  • Adapter and voltage converter
  • Binoculars (if applicable)
  • Laptop computer (if applicable)
  • Textbooks and notebooks for class
  • Extra set of passport photos of yourself
  • Photos from home to share with friends abroad

Documents, etc.

These documents should be carried with you (not in your luggage):

  • Passport
  • Tickets and railpasses (leave copies with your family)
  • ISIC card (if purchased)
  • Hostel membership card (if purchased)
  • Cash, travelers checks, credit cards, ATM card
  • GeoBlue (formerly HTH) medical insurance ID card (sent as an email)


Check with an insurance or travel agent about insuring your luggage and other personal effects.

Mark your luggage tags clearly ahead of time with your name, address, and the phone number of your destination. Also keep this information inside your bags.

Keep your luggage close to you and locked with a TSA-approved lock!

Avoid oversize and overweight luggage. Check your airline's website for weight limitations, overage charges, and checked bags fees. Airlines restrict the amount of luggage that passengers are allowed to carry. In general, passengers on international flights are allowed one or two checked bags (sometimes there is a charge for one or both bags), each weighing no more than 50 pounds. In addition to checked bags, passengers are generally allowed one or two carry-on bags that can fit in the overhead compartment or under the seat. Requirements can vary from carrier to carrier and change often so it is your responsibility to contact your airlines to determine these requirements. Please note that intra-country flights usually have even lower limits. Therefore, if your program includes an in-country flight, you should pack less or be prepared to pay for extra luggage.

You will have to carry your own luggage. It is a good idea to pack your bags a few days before departure and try to carry them when you are tired. Eliminate items that are not essential. Don't take anything that you would hate to lose. Leave at home all unnecessary credit cards, expensive jewelry, or irreplaceable family objects! Take a collapsible piece of luggage or leave room in your bags for items acquired abroad.

When packing your carry-on luggage, consider including:

  • extra pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses and cleaning solution (less than 3.4 ounces)
  • map and directions to your destination
  • any medications that you use (keep medications in their original labeled containers to make customs processing easier and carry a letter with you from your physician attesting to your need to take the medications, especially if they contain narcotics)
  • basic toiletries (containers must hold less than 3.4 ounces each and all must be placed into a quart-sized, clear plastic bag)
  • sweater or sweatshirt
  • change of clothes
  • water bottle (empty until you've passed through security)
  • snacks
  • reading material
  • cell phone and/or iPod/MP3 player
  • Do not pack any sharp items such as jackknives, scissors, nail clippers, etc., in your carry-on luggage

Electrical service varies throughout the world. Most outlets will not accept the two- or three-pronged plugs that are standard in the United States. Therefore, if you intend to take small appliances, you will need a set of adapter plugs that will "adapt" U.S. plugs to the plug system of your host country. Additionally, you will need a voltage converter to "convert" the U.S. voltage of your electronic devices to the local voltage. These items can be purchased at electronics stores such as Radio Shack or Best Buy.

Electric converters work for appliances up to 1600 watts, at least for a while, but good ones are expensive. Don't be fooled by cheaper versions because they will burn up your appliance and perhaps cause a fire. Because of the voltage difference, U.S. appliances often short out, even with a converter. It may be to your advantage to buy electric appliances on site. If you are bringing expensive electronic equipment such as a computer, obtain all necessary conversion information from a professional before departure.

If you intend to travel before or after your program, make arrangements for storage of your luggage. Do not assume that your luggage can be stored at your housing location during dates outside of the program. Daily storage charges in train stations and airports can be quite costly.