For many people, packing for any trip is a headache. For study abroad students, packing for four months in a checked bag and carry-on, will make you go crazy.
As I mentioned in An Introduction to Studying Abroad…It Can Be Scary, the saying “better safe than sorry,” really does work when packing to study abroad, but you still need to be mindful that you aren’t packing too much. Here are some tips on packing for your trip of a lifetime.
My first tip when it comes to packing to study abroad…don’t leave it to the last-minute. I spent hours the day before my flight with both of my parents attempting to pack.
Another tip…don’t ask your parents to help you pack if they have two different packing personalities.
When packing, some people pack for every single possibility and they are over-packers. There are other people whom look at packing more realistically and pack the bare minimum. For study abroad students, you need to find a medium between the two. You don’t have enough room to pack everything, but you need to make sure that you don’t miss anything either.
When it comes to packing clothes…pack LAYERS. Italy’s weather isn’t consistent, it will fluctuate from warm to cool, but it is almost never freezing. Sweaters are a great thing to pack because as it gets cooler you can add a layer to t-shirts that you wore when it was warmer.
I also suggest not bringing anything with English writing on it. If you want to get the full Italian experience you don’t want to be identified as an American tourist. I brought one of my college sweatshirts with me with my school name on it and I rarely wore it outside of my dorm.
For girls, don’t bring high heels. Please, I am begging you, do not bring high heels. Italy’s streets are covered in cobblestone and are really not ideal for wearing high heels unless you are EXTREMELY experienced. Many of the girls I went to school with came back with bruises all over their legs because they kept falling in their high heels. It is really not a smart idea.
If you plan on travelling a lot, bring a really good pair of sneakers. When I visited Dublin, my friend and I decided to go on a cliff walk and wearing boots during the cliff walk would not have been a good idea. In Rome you do a lot of walking as well so a could pair of sneakers will save your feet from a lot of pain.
As far as personal products go, such as shampoo and conditioner, the supermarkets in Italy sell shampoo and conditioner just like they do in the US. I would suggest bringing small bottles of anything that you need for the first couple of days that you are in Rome so that you have time to find your local supermarket.
While Italy’s weather fluctuates a little, it never really gets freezing cold unless you go up into the mountains. For the majority of my trip I was fine wearing jeans, boots, and a t-shirt with a sweater every once in a while. There is no need to pack for a massive snowstorm because there won’t be one. If you plan on traveling in the summer though, Italy does get pretty hot during the summer and a t-shirt and shorts are a good idea.
So you’ve packed layers, jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers…how are you going to fit it all in? My dad and I watched a bunch of different packing technique videos, but we found that using packing cubes was the best technique. With packing cubes you can organize your clothes (pants in one cube, shirts in another cube) and the cube compresses what is inside the cube so that you can fit more. Packing cubes are a great way to pack more and keep your packing organized. Check out the packing cubes that I bought on Amazon:
Since I was planning on travelling a lot, I also bought a travel kit to keep all of my products inside together. Check out the travel kit that I bought on Amazon (which even has a hook to hang in the bathroom!):
My last piece of advice is when you are packing look critically at every single thing you want to bring with you. When you are considering what clothes to pack, think to yourself, “Will I wear this at least 10 times?” If the answer is no, then it is not worth the space in your bag.