When I began prepping for my study abroad experience in Spain, the most informational research was reading blog posts and watching videos of students who were studying abroad. By reading and listening to the items they said to pack and watching how they packed their suitcase, I felt like I had an insider perspective of this thing called traveling overseas. Packing sounds like a daunting task, but when I arrived to Spain, I was thankful that I packed a variety of essentials that made transitioning and traveling much easier. These items below were my essentials for a life of movement and adventure – I hope they help fuel your wanderlust hearts too!
1. Travel lock >> This is so useful to keep your important items like your passport, money and phone safe in your hotel, hostel or out and about. Sometimes hotels don’t provide safes, so it was necessary to have a lock to calm any worries. Make sure to get a cable lock with a combination, so you don’t have to worry about a key. Also, making sure they are TSA-approved is also a good idea.
2. Reusable water bottle >> Finding a reusable water bottle in Spain was a joke. They simply didn’t sell them there. I found that my host family didn’t drink as much water regularly, so having a water bottle to fill up when I needed to was very important.
3. Boots or comfortable shoes >> I walked the most I had in my entire life when I studied abroad in Europe. Also, people in Spain and Europe love their boots. If you can, pack extras, because they will wear out over time.
4. A bag to fit a camera, water bottle + other small travel essentials >> I found I didn’t have the right size bag with me at times since it was hard to fit my DSLR, water bottle and my regular purse items into a cross body bag. I recommend finding a bag that can hold all your essentials for a day of walking around new cities and such.
5. Journal (or buy a fancy one there!) >> Use your time studying abroad to reflect on your perspectives, thoughts, goals and ideas. Writing was so therapeutic and relaxing to me. I loved finding a spot in Sevilla to sit and journal and be around new people and the city living all around me.
6. Packs of tissues + Hand sanitizer >> These are awesome to have on hand! Especially hand sanitizer! Bring lots of them. And even bring extras.
7. A watch >> I found it was much easier to have a watch instead of pulling out my phone. I didn’t want to have my phone out all the time while walking on the streets, but having a watch was easier to make sure I was on time.
8. Notebook + School Supplies >> Remember, we are in Europe to take classes, so bringing a couple basic school supplies helps for the first couple days when you’re not sure where to purchase notebooks, folders, pens, etc. I also found that keeping a folder handy to save souvenirs like tickets, stickers, postcards and other small things from my travels was a great way to keep my travel trinkets organized.
9. Scarves >> Scarves are the travel accessory, in my book! Use them as a pillow, blanket, or perfect accessory to stay warm. Also, they are really helpful to change up your outfits that you wear everyday while living with a limited wardrobe. I packed four scarves with me, but bought four more during my time there.
10. Passport case/cover >> I didn’t have one of these in Europe, but I met others who did and I think this a good way to keep track of your passport and make sure you know where it is. Also, it gives it a covering so that it doesn’t really look like a passport from the outside.
11. Face Wipes >> I love the Yes To Cucumbers face wipes and I brought several packs with me to Spain. My mom even sent me some more in a care package. Face wipes are essential, because sometimes you won’t have access to a sink first thing in the morning or late at night. Or you may want to freshen up in an airport or on the road. Face wipes make it easy!
12. Light Jackets >> Make sure you pack for the weather. If you are studying abroad in Europe during the spring or fall semester, it is most likely that you will have some cool weather. Instead of carrying around a thick jacket (that in reality is too warm), make sure you have some lighter transition options that work well with a variety of occasions (and are comfy for travel). I bought a denim jacket in Spain and it was perfect, because it could layer over sweaters or tank tops. Plus, the pockets were important for traveling to keeping my phone close to me.
Remember, it’s not about what you bring with you, it’s about where the road takes you. Lose yourself, find yourself, be free and absorb a new culture. It’s an experience of a lifetime — simply take in everything around you!
Have you studied abroad? What do you recommend to pack?