I did so much research while planning for Cambridge–both online and by asking friends who had been overseas before (especially those that had been on this specific 4-week-long trip). Everyone told me to “pack for 3 seasons,” and yet to “pack light.” How could I reconcile these things?
Having never been out of the country before, I had no clue if there’d be a pharmacy (in the sense that I was used to) nearby. But I needn’t have worried. Boots is a damn cure-all. Even if they do call band-aids “plasters.”
Pro tip: Don’t bring two rolling suitcases like I did. A duffle is fine though. They let me on with the smaller as my carry-on for the way there, but made me check it on the way back. £60 I’ll never get back. Though honestly it was worth it for all of my souvenirs–and fair tbh. Live and learn.
Also, the neck pillow I got was a lovely firm memory foam, but ultimately wasn’t thick enough to give me the support I needed. I’d recommend getting something like this that has more neck padding.
All that being said, I wanted to share a sample packing list for study abroad-ers. (That’s a word, right?) Though aside from the misc. section, it should apply to any international traveler. Keep reading for a break down.
- The other girls and I had to buy sweaters at Marks & Spencer for our weekend in Ireland at the Cliffs of Moher to help insulate our jackets. We ended up getting the exact same sweater in four different colors. 😅
- Bonus, scarves are not only a good way to keep warm but they’re also a good way to make a capsule wardrobe feel like there’s more variety.
- Formal Outfit–
- This doesn’t have to be extensive. I brought an extra skirt and just wore one of my capsule shirts and planned on wearing my black flats. Of course, I ended up buying these gorgeous two-tone, pointed-toe, double-strapped pumps for only £9.
- I brought black flats, my comfy walking Toms, and my sneakers. I wanted to bring my riding boots for rain reasons but I didn’t have the room.
- Pro tip: Actually wear your sneakers on excursions. I wore my Toms to the Cliffs and almost died. No joke. A stranger caught me by the upper arms to keep me from falling and Emeline held my hand the rest of the way. The lesson is you need traction to brave the mud.
- I chose my crossbody for size reasons. I was determined to get as much as I could onto the plane within the airline parameters. I would recommend something with a zipper and crossbody strap to prevent snatching/pick-pocketing.
- Be sure to apply for your passport with plenty of time (I did my interview at a local library).
- You’ll need your license and your student ID to be safe.
- You can get your boarding pass loaded on your British Airlines app if that’s who you’re flying with. (I’m sure other airlines have an equivalent.)
- The customs officers will want to see your letters of acceptance to prove you’re in the country for study.
- You’re going to want more than one way to pay just in case something goes wrong. My debit chip got scratched and I had to use my credit card the rest of the trip. You’ll want local currency for tipping etc. and I took some pounds & euros home as souvenirs.
- I used this wallet to keep my money and documents organized. I thought about getting something smaller and more stylish, but I liked the size of this for all of our excursion itineraries/confirmations and I know I’ll be the doc keeper on family trips in the future.
- Phone & Accessories–
- Your charger, headphones for the in-flight movies, and battery pack (a day full of snapping pictures will ensure that you need it).
- It’s a good idea to have your own hand sanitizer, chapstick, and other necessities. My sister always needs gum so her ears don’t pop. And I usually need Dramamine and Advil. (Be sure to bring any and all medications in their original containers.)
- First things first, you need both. The adapter helps your electronics adapt to the wattage used abroad, while the converter helps your plug-ins fit the outlet itself. Here’s the one I bought. It was a good investment for me because it comes with 4 USB ports (US, UK, Australian, & European) and I plan on traveling a lot more.
- I did all of my journaling and note-taking on paper so I didn’t use my laptop much and it weighed me down a lot. (The airline limit is 50 lbs.) But my Kindle was a lifesaver because A) I used it for all of the e-book texts for classes and B) it weighs nothing and I carried it in my crossbody anyway. (P.S. It was actually my daughter’s Kindle Fire that my dad got her for Christmas. I just switched it off of kid’s mode and removed the foam case.)
- This is a no-brainer. Just make sure you double check this. I had to go by a shady used electronics store in town to get a lightning charger because I left it in the car on the way to the airport. It wasn’t cheap.
- Power Strip/Extension Cord–
- Since you only have one adapter & converter, you’re gonna want to bring a power strip to make it stretch. And the extension cord helps it literally stretch so I could have my laptop in my sitting room and my phone in my bedroom.
Buy It There:
- The travel-size toiletries I brought were really only necessary to get me through the first day before I could hit up Boots for full-size products, but if you’re going for a less lengthy trip you probably won’t need to buy anything extra. I had to throw out the big bottles when they were only half empty anyway–and I’d been liberal in my lathering the whole trip.
- You should bring a versatile bag that you can use to carry your books to class, as well as your toiletries to the bathroom down the hall, your laundry to the laundromat, and your groceries from the store. I bought sandwich supplies at the M&S Food Hall every week to save money, but they charge you 5 pence for a plastic bag and it’s a good eco-friendly practice I wish they would institute in the States.
- Robe & Flip-Flops–
- Speaking of going to the bathroom down the hall, you’ll probably want to bring a robe and flip-flops.
- Notebook & Pens/Pencils–
- I found that at Cambridge, it was much more magical to take physical notes. Especially as things occurred to me in my journal.
- As much as I believe in physical copies of books (for my collection), I would recommend buying anything you can on e-book. I bought quite a few things in both. I found Shakespeare and Dickens collections for $0.99 each, so it didn’t hurt me to double up.