The first rule of travel is to pack lightly. Remember that whatever you pack, you will have to carry. Though you may not have to haul your luggage for kilometers over rough terrain, navigating a city’s public transportation system with even a small, wheeled suitcase can be a physical -- and cultural -- challenge.
The second rule of travel is to pack selectively. Though you will be packing for a stay of several months, you will not need all that you think you need. Pack your suitcase(s) early, carry it around the block, and then remove about half of what you packed.
Research the climate and average monthly temperatures in your host country and pack accordingly. Regardless of the climate, it’s always good practice to pack clothing that can be layered and that is easy to care for (leave clothes that need dry cleaning at home). Take a pair of good walking shoes and at least one outfit that can be worn for any special occasion that might arise -- but don’t take any outfit that can only be worn for a special occasion. Rather than a full suit or formal dress, take a pair of nice slacks, a good shirt, and a tie or dressy sweater.
Essentials (pack these in your carry-on luggage):
- passport + photocopy
- copy of program acceptance letter
- credit/debit card + photocopy
- traveler’s checks
- prescription medication + written prescription
- extra glasses/contact lenses + written prescription
- International Student Identity Card (ISIC)
- alarm clock
- multi-tool or swiss army knife (pack in your checked luggage)
- MP3 player + charger
- Camera + batteries + film
- full toilet bag (soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, shaving kit, sanitary supplies, condoms, etc.)
- first-aid kit
- sewing kit
- address book
- layerable, easy-care clothes
- one “nice” outfit
- comfortable walking shoes
- shower flip flops
- suitable outer gear (rain jacket, umbrella, winter coat…)