First-time study abroad students often make the mistake of packing too much or too little. Some students want to bring every comfort of home along and others get caught up by the romantic notion of heading out to explore the world with nothing more than a toothbrush and a passport. Savvy travelers know that the best adventures happen when you travel light and are equipped with some necessities.
Mistakes happen when traveling overseas, but you can reduce the impact of small glitches if you have a few practical items packed on your carry-on. One important must-have that some students overlook is an international student health insurance policy. You may not qualify for health insurance in your new destination, and many countries don’t honor foreign health insurance. Keep these items on hand to glide through the airport or a minor emergency:
- A copy of your student visa, emergency contact numbers (including the nearest U.S. Embassy), your complete itinerary and your international student health insurance policy
- Prescription and over-the-counter medications—always keep them in their original packaging
- Spare eyeglasses
- A hooded rain poncho (much more practical than an umbrella when hauling luggage)
- Spending money in small bills
- A jacket
- A small flashlight
Technology makes travel easier, but it’s easy to get tangled up with too many gadgets. Instead of carrying an e-reader, a smartphone and a laptop, consider investing in a single appliance that does it all, like a netbook or tablet. Travel apps like iTranslate can help you communicate in your new country until you master the language. A 3G mobile internet dongle and an extra USB flash drive will help you get connected and store files from almost anywhere. Many cellphones don’t have the capability to work overseas, or if they do, the roaming charges are enormous. A pay-as-you-go international cellphone will let you stay in touch with Mom and Dad as well as the new friends you’ll make in school.
For those times you can’t or don’t want to be plugged in, recording your thoughts and taking meaningful memorabilia with you can help make the most of your experiences studying abroad.
- A travel guide focused on students or younger travelers—useful for planning excursions
- A journal. Even if you blog or send long emails back home, no record of your trip can be more personal than your words written in a journal
- Pictures of home. No matter how excited you are to study abroad, if it’s your first time living away from home you’re going to get at least a little bit homesick. Having photos of family and friends around may help ease your homesickness
Don’t let packing become a stressful chore that starts your trip on a bad note. If you forget something that’s essential you can either replace it at your new destination or have someone send it to you Recipes For Life . Remember, you’re not going to a remote, deserted location; you’re going to a university that serves thousands of students just like you every year.
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