Packing for study abroad is possibly the hardest thing you will ever do. Not exactly, but it is a pretty difficult task when you encounter seasonal changes over the period of 3-4 months! I have one checked luggage, one carry on luggage, and a backpack that I fit my life into. It is hard to let some of your favorite pieces stay at home and await your return, but you have to be brutal! Here is a small overview of my recommended pieces while traveling or studying abroad and how you can pack light!
Layers, layers, layers. You will need tanks, cardigans, and tees that you can mix and match with almost every outfit. I recommend going for simple colors or sticking to one color scheme so it is easy to put multiple outfits together. It probably helped that I’m really into black and white right now, but I added a touch of blues and maroons in the mix for some more color.
I also think a denim shirt and a white shirt are essential because they are classic pieces that can be thrown over a tank or tee as well as nice on their own. Once again, neutral colors that can go with anything! I threw in two sweaters for the colder months, who doesn’t love a cozy sweater?!
Jeans and leggings are your new best friend. I brought two of each, a dark pair of jeans, and a light pair, as well as a nicer legging and an inexpensive one. Jeans can be rolled up a bit and paired with sandals for summer, or tucked into boots for the winter. Leggings can be worn on their own with a tank or under a skirt or dress in cooler weather. A nice black a-line skirt is perfect to pair with a tee, sweater, tank, everything (I’ve gotten so much use out of mine). I only brought 2 pairs of shorts since I started school in September, so not much time for warm weather.
For dresses I only put two here, one casual and one for occasions. Even the occasion dress can be dressed up or down, which provides more functionality for multiple events and activities. I brought one nicer dress and a skirt and top that can be mixed around, and I’ve only used the nice dress once so far, so if you need to condense your suitcase this may be a good area. Plus, you can always purchase something new if you need to! I’ve had a lot of use out of my casual dresses because you can change up the cardigan or jacket or add leggings or tights! Plus they are a simple and easy item to pack.
This is probably the most difficult area for most people, including myself. Since I am studying over the course of three seasons I was worried I wouldn’t have enough shoe options, but I’ve been happy with my choices so far. I packed: 1 pair of sandals, 1 pair of sneakers, 2 pairs of short boots, 1 pair of tall boots, and 1 pair of flats.
The important thing when packing shoes is comfort! Depending on where you plan on traveling or studying abroad, the streets are difficult to walk on anyhow! I highly recommend packing for comfort, otherwise they will be a waste of space in your bag. Plus, I decided to purchase a pair of hand-made leather sandals in Florence - so as always, save room for souvenirs! I debated between packing rain boots or winter boots, but my tall (fake) leather boots are
Personally, I don’t wear much jewelry, but if you do, try to keep it to a minimum and bring your favorites or ones you will wear the most. I would stay away from bringing anything too expensive because you don’t want to lose it or have it stolen. Accessories are a nice way to vamp up your outfit, so if you’re into statement pieces this is where you can spice it up. Smaller pieces like rings and bracelets are easy and small to pack. Scarves are also essential and useful to throw over your shoulders in churches on visits or add a pop of color to your ensemble.
Traveling between Chicago and Philly I am always trying to find better ways to pack. Rolling my clothes has proven to be the best way to keep everything compact. I’ve found rolling my clothes to keep away wrinkles and fit more! But still be conscious of weight and size restrictions from your airline.
I decided to buy a new coat before I left that was stylish and functional because it has a removable lining inside so I can use it as a light jacket or a full on winter jacket.
I’ve been lucky enough not to have my luggage lost, but I like to keep an emergency Ziploc bag of toiletries in my carry on bag just in case.
I absolutely love traveling and I look forward to more adventures in the future. If you have any other tips comment below!