Back in the early days of this blog (aka 6 months ago), I wrote a post on packing for a study abroad trip (here’s parts 1 and 2). That packing post was done before I left, so it reflected more of what I anticipated needing rather than being based in experience. Now, however, I’ve been on both that program and moved to DC for a 3-month period. As a result, I think I’ve gotten a much better grasp on what you really need to bring with you. So for today’s post, I’ll be revising that “what to pack” post and telling you what you actually don’t need to bring with you.
This is what I included originally for a three-month trip to Oxford:
- 2 coats (1 wool and 1 Barbour)
- 1 vest
- 10 sweaters
- 14 tops (11 long-sleeve and 3 short sleeve)
- 5 pairs of pants
- 3 skirts (2 practical, and a sparkly one to be worn for New Year’s Eve)
- 3 dresses
- 15 casual tops (a variety of tanks for working out and other sleep shirts)
- 5 pairs of leggings (and a pair of sweatpants)
- 2 sweatshirts
- 9 pairs of shoes (I know, this is ridiculous… but I have rainboots, riding boots, Bean boots, 2 pairs of booties, 1 pair of running shoes, 2 pairs of ballet flats, and slippers)
- 5 scarves
- 1 hat and 2 over-ear headbands
- 1 pair of gloves
- 2 pairs of tights
- Approximately 2 weeks’ supply of underwear and 5 bras
- A lot of fuzzy/warm socks
- Small purse
- 7 necklaces, 5 pairs of earrings, and 6 bracelets
This a lot. And to be truthful, it’s not even everything I brought. So looking at what I listed, I’m going to give a few tips to help pare this list down into something a bit more reasonable.
1. Remember stores exist in other places too
Unless you’re going to some obscure rural area where there’s nothing around but nature for 50 miles, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll have access to a number of places to shop. You don’t need to bring absolutely everything with you because you can always buy things when you get there. I definitely could have done this with my shoes – wellies take up a ton of space and can be bought for $15 or so at a department store.
2. Accept that your wardrobe might lose its ~*diversity*~
Don’t pack what you think you need for two to three months. Pack what you think you need for two weeks, max, and do laundry regularly. Even though you may feel self-conscious about it, no one really pays all that much attention to what you’re wearing and I promise they won’t remember that you wore that same black shirt two weeks ago. I’ve done that in DC, and it’s so much easier to keep track of fewer clothes. (It also forces you to be a functioning adult and do laundry regularly, because I have to do laundry once a week or else I run out of workout clothes.)
3. You don’t need multiple bags
When I went to Oxford, I brought a tote bag, a Longchamp, a purse, and a crossbody bag. Talk about excessive! Bring one or two bags max that can fulfill multiple functions. I don’t know why I thought this was a good idea the first time.
4. Buy supplies and books when you get there
I brought approximately 6 books with me to Oxford. I did in fact read all of them, so it wasn’t a matter of how useful they were, but more a matter of how much space they took up. Once again, stores totally exist in other countries/cities, especially if you’re studying at another university, because duh, those students need supplies too.
5. Bring more accessories, fewer clothes
This ties into number 2. To make it feel like you have more than 10 shirts total, it helps to have a ton of different pieces of jewelry/scarves/etc. to liven up your look. Necklaces take up barely any space compared to actual items of clothing too, so that’s a major plus.
6. Leave yourself space
However you end up packing, make sure you have a large amount of available space left when you’re done – you rack up a ton of random souvenirs and knick-knacks when you’re away from home for three months. Having to ship them back in a separate box is a total pain (not to mention expensive), and I can tell you that from personal experience.
Have any more questions about packing for a study abroad trip? Hit me up! I’m a total expert now. (That’s a lie, but I at least have a lot of first-hand experience.)