If you’re wondering how you’re going to fit your life’s possessions into one suitcase (or two, if you’re lucky), you’ve come to the right place. Here are 7 useful tips for packing for exchange.
1. The emptier your suitcase, the better
You’ve probably heard this before and scoffed, but STICK BY IT. Think of everything you’ll use regularly and is not easily replaceable – these are the things you should bring. Anything else, while nice to have while you’re living overseas, will be there for you when you get back. Whether you like it or not, people tend to buy and accumulate a lot of things in daily life, and you’ll need space for this when returning (plus the added bonus of not having to lug around five suitcases when you travel).
2. Pick clothes for your climate
Look up beforehand what the weather will be like in your host country for the time you’ll be staying there. Although you may want to bring your favourite super cute summer top and five pairs of heels, they’ll be next to useless if you’re travelling to a country that doesn’t get above 25°C. You’ll probably pick up a fair amount of clothes while you’re overseas too, so don’t stress too much about bringing every piece you’ll need. To be fair, since most exchange programs last half a year you’ll probably experience a range of seasons, but most countries still tend to be hotter or colder in general.
3. Bring your laptop
This one’s pretty obvious. Unless your accommodation comes with a free computer (if that exists sign me up immediately), you’ll need a laptop to do… well, everything basically. They’re invaluable when doing schoolwork, entertainment, and planning trips. And you don’t really want to buy one overseas, since it’s quite a big spend if you already have a perfectly good one.
4. Don’t bring toiletries, kitchenware or bedding
Toiletries are super easy to buy, and you’ll definitely be able to get through multiple packs of them in the time you’re living overseas (cosmetics, on the other hand, you should probably bring). Kitchenware is relatively cheap to buy from discount retailers, supermarkets or students who are moving out, and it’s not worth the effort and extra weight of bringing them – your flat may also end up sharing kitchenware anyway. Bedding is also not that worth bringing, especially if your dorm bed is a different size than the one you own.
Side note: most universities offer kitchen and bedding packs, but it’s usually cheaper to buy them yourself.
5. Take a few ‘comfort’ items
We all have these – photos, knick knacks, little items that’ll make you feel more at home when living in a new city. You should take a few of these (but not too many!) to decorate your space and keep that homesickness at bay.
6. Don’t forget money
Make sure you bring some foreign currency to get you started, and be sure to check out this guide for how to store the rest of your money overseas.
7. Bring some souvenirs
You’re looking at me (metaphorically) in confusion right now: this chick’s crazy – you’re supposed to buy souvenirs overseas, not bring some from home. Well, let me set you straight – you’re going to live with and meet heaps of new friends from every corner of the globe, and it’s a great idea to bring some little souvenirs to introduce them to your culture and as parting gifts (postcards you can write personal messages on are a super nice idea). Native snacks are also a really good way to break the ice with your new roomies (if you’re from Australia, Tim Tams are the best, and it’s always a laugh forcing people to try Vegemite).
So if you were stressing out about what to pack, I hope these tips helped. What I like to do is to pack the bare necessities, then add other things depending on how much space I have left, how much I need it and how much hassle it would be to buy another one overseas. In the end, you’re the best judge of what you’ll need, but if you have any other tips, comment down below!