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Study Abroad Blog

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How to Fit Your Life in Two Suitcases

May 03, 2018
by CEA CAPA Content Creator
If you are studying abroad this semester, you are about to face the ultimate challenge: packing all of your belongings into two suitcases. One of the most difficult parts of packing is deciding what to bring and what to leave, especially when you don’t know what to expect of your new home. It can be overwhelming to narrow down life’s necessities, largely because of the many ridiculous “what if” scenarios many of us imagine before leaving. One thing I learned while studying abroad is that less is always more. Zip-Lock space bags are great for traveling, but more stuff means more weight. Save yourself the physical burden of tons of luggage when arriving alone in your study abroad destination as well as the overweight luggage fees. To help assist in packing before your journey abroad, here is a list of the Do’s and Don’ts I learned along the way.
 Flying over the Swiss Alps


Packing shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc. can be very heavy as well as take up valuable space in your suitcase. Unless you have specific brands of your products you know you CANNOT get anywhere else, save yourself and leave these at home. The same goes for toothpaste, hair products, vitamins, etc. My advice is to bring a travel size of all of the items you need, then you have a couple weeks to adjust to your new home and purchase products for the remainder of your time there at your local store. I would refill my travel size toiletry bottles to bring with me on weekend trips and it was very handy. Also, leave the hair dryers, straighteners, curlers, and any other hair appliances at home. The voltage is different and it may catch on fire, but don’t worry you can pick one up with the correct plug for cheap when you arrive.

Towels and Linens:

Packing towels, bed sheets, and pillows can take up large sums of space in your suitcase that you probably will not have to spare. CEA provides you with a list of places upon arrival where you can purchase all of the necessary items for a reasonable price, so I would definitely leave these behind.

 Amsterdam, Netherlands


Although this seems obvious, check the weather report for your study abroad location. I recommend checking the monthly averages for the months that you are there so you can get an idea of the temperatures you should be expecting. My biggest recommendation would be to pack items you can mix, match, and layer. You never know where your weekend adventures may take you. I recommend only bringing a couple large jackets because they take up so much space. Also, many places you go there is plenty of shopping to purchase anything you might have forgotten or couldn’t fit. Remember, if you haven’t worn an item from your closet in the last 2 months, don’t bring it; you won’t wear it. And for shoes, COMFORT IS KEY! You are going to be walking miles a day so make sure you have tennis shoes or boots that you are comfortable walking in. Lastly, the more underwear and socks you have, the less laundry you have to do.

 Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

Carry On Luggage:

Utilize the space in your carry-on luggage for anything you might need during your flight: tablets, chargers, computers, etc. I recommend bringing a carry on that is a good size for your weekend adventures abroad. You never know where life may take you!

 Munich, Germany
 Interlaken, Switzerland

Brynn M. is the Fall 2017 MOJO Blogger in Barcelona, Spain. She is currently a Junior studying Communication at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

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