1. Space Bags
If you know you are packing for cold weather and are bringing puffy jackets, or you just can’t resist bringing a lot of clothes with you to study abroad, don’t fret; space bags are here for you. Space bags are large plastic bags you can pack your clothes in, seal, and then vacuum or press the air out of. It deflates your clothes, especially puffy items, to a fraction of their original size. Ziploc space bags are perfect for this because when you have to pack again to return from study abroad, you have the option to press the air out, unlike other bags that require a vacuum. If you go with this method just be prepared to iron all of your clothes because the wrinkles will be very real.
2. Keep it Light
A tried-and-true method to prepare for study abroad is to leave plenty of room in your bag for everything you’ll buy while studying abroad. You can even just pack one suitcase with everything you need and bring one empty bag for the return home. Just make sure you aren’t maxed out on space and the number of bags you can take before you even leave home, because it will be a nightmare to deal with later!
3. ...But Stock Up Before You Go
This depends on exactly where you go abroad, but it's likely that you won’t have an easy time finding the brands you love or the medicines you rely on from home when you go abroad. Definitely stock up on your necessary prescriptions or over-the-counter medicines and brands you find yourself using on a regular basis in your life. Be prepared ahead of time for catching a cold, for instance, because it can be difficult and sometimes impossible to find cold medicine abroad. In this aspect, it’s better to be over-prepared.
4. Use Up Toiletries
Along with the previous tip to bring all your favorite medicines and toiletries, this is a great way to not limit your packing and have space when returning home. This is a time to be more generous with what you’re packing, whether it’s shampoo, conditioner, medicines, or makeup. Just plan on using them all up or leaving any extra behind! This is a win-win because you can have all your favorite or necessary items abroad, but you can use them and dispose of them so you’ll have a far lighter, emptier bag when returning so you can bring back all your gifts and souvenirs.
5. Learn to Leave Items Behind
Come to terms with now that there are things you may use at home that you can and will live without when you go abroad. You may think you can’t go four or so months without your Xbox, etc., but you won’t have any need for it when you’re out exploring the world. Also, the American power supply will short the European sockets, so it’s a waste of space to try to bring anyway. Going abroad forces you to become more of a minimalist, but it’s an amazing experience, so dive in headfirst!
Whitney Knorp is the Fall 2018 CEA MOJO Blogger in Prague, Czech Republic, and is currently studying at California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo.