Whether you’re looking for ideas for your own holiday wishlist, or have a loved one who is a world traveler (or is about to be), you’ve come to the right place.
Mariah Carey is playing faintly in the background and twinkling lights are popping up around town. That means only one thing: the holiday season is upon us. It’s the most magical time of the year, unless you’re studying abroad in the spring because that is a magic like nothing else.
When all your dreams are coming true, is there really anything else you could ask for for the Holidays? Yes! This is the perfect time to check off those last-minute items and stock up on everything you will need for your travels abroad. Your entire life is going to be packed into one suitcase and a backpack–and if you don’t have a good one yet, why not add it to your wishlist?
These are the ultimate items any traveler needs for an epic semester abroad:
One of the most crucial items for any study abroad student is a sturdy suitcase and carry on. Pro Tip: pick out one in a fun color or print so you can easily spot it on the baggage carousel and so that no one else thinks it could be theirs. Also, keep in mind size regulations for many airlines in Europe. Students will often travel budget airlines with only a carry on suitcase to avoid added luggage costs–dimensions are strictly enforced.
Our luggage recommendations:
- Best for fitting EVERYTHING for your semester (as long as it’s under 50 pounds) Hanke Foldable Luggage
- Best for the pop of color: Herschel Trade Luggage Medium
- Best carry on roller for weekend travels and for budget airlines: Samsonite Freeform Carry On
- Best carry on duffle/weekender bag (pack this in your suitcase and use it as a second bag for souvenirs and extras you need to bring home) Wandf Foldable Duffel
Your backpack is your best friend while studying abroad. It will be with you in all of your classes, walking for miles around a new city, or squished under your seat on a long bus, train, or plane ride. It needs to be durable with a lot of space, pockets for optimized storage, and comfortable enough to wear for long periods of time.
Our backpack recommendations:
- Best for on-trend: Herschel Retreat Backpack
- Best for optimal organization: Nordace Siena Backpack
- Best for the backpacker: Osprey Packs Porter 46 Travel Backpack
Cameras & Equipment
If you don’t own a professional DSLR camera before you travel abroad, it’s unnecessary to buy one and bring one on your travels. If you don’t know how to use it properly, it won’t take any better photos than the newest iPhone (which is pretty spectacular with Portrait Mode, amiright?). What might be worth adding to your list, though? An action camera like a GoPro. You don’t need videography training to use it, it is waterproof (older models need waterproof cases) and durable; ready to be taken on any wild adventure like skiing in the Swiss Alps or ziplining in Croatia.
Another option for photography inclined travelers is a smartphone camera lens. The Xenvo Pro Lens Kit is available on Amazon and it includes two lenses with clips to easily attach and detach from any smartphone as well as a travel case and LED light attachment. You can get some seriously stunning photos without the need to lug around extra cameras. Saving space and money!
Stocking stuffer bonus: A travel-size tripod and a selfie remote – for when you aren’t traveling with your #boyfriendsofinstagram or bestie that knows how to get your best angle.
Your phone is your lifeline abroad so keeping it protected is your number one priority. From google maps to google translate to plain old googling “how to turn on an Italian washing machine” not a day goes by without needing your phone for answering a crucial question. Why not include a heavy-duty, waterproof case or an all-in-one storage case for your credit cards and ID on your Holiday wishlist.
Our best iPhone case recommendations:
- Best waterproof case: ORDTBY iPhone Case
- Best case with a hidden compartment for credit cards: Samonpow iPhone Case
- Best fashion forward case (drop proof): Pangram Pangram x CASETiFY
Stocking stuffer bonus: Waterproof phone pouches are the way to go if you want an easy travel phone hack. Plus the Mpow 084 Phone Pouch offered on Amazon also floats! If an impromptu photoshoot goes awry sailing around the Amalfi Coast and your phone jolts off the side of the boat, not speaking from personal experience, these will have you covered. The hang strap is also perfect for a ziplining adventure, as you’ll be sure not to drop it over a canyon if it’s hanging around your neck!
Rain won’t stop a true jet setter from exploring a new city, but an all-purpose raincoat can seriously brighten their day. Weather in Europe can be very unpredictable and wet in the spring so a light-weight, water-wicking jacket can really come in handy. Bonus points if it’s easily compressed and packable for a weekend trip.
- Raincoat for Women: Columbia Women’s Arcadia™ Insulated Jacket
- Raincoat for Men: Columbia Men’s Watertight II
- Puffer Jacket for Women: North Face Women’s Aconcagua Jacket
- Puffer Jacket for Men: North Face Men’s Aconcagua Jacket
Comfort Travel Essentials
For a budget student traveler like yourself, the cheapest mode of travel is usually not the most comfortable. Bringing along key items can really help make the experience more enjoyable and arrive at the destination refreshed and ready to take on the new city. The three key items are a travel pillow, a sleep mask, and a travel blanket.
Some important distinctions to take note of- the travel pillow should have a small button closure to easily attach to a carry on luggage piece. The best sleep masks have small dents to rest comfortably on your face without pressing on your eyes. Lastly, the best travel blankets have pockets for items like your phone or tissues and can be folded up and compressed for easy and efficient packing.
Ultimate Gift for Future Study Abroad Students
A planned trip abroad! Hands down the most exciting gift you can give or receive is an adventure exploring a new city. Here is our list of top trips based on personality:
- For the adventurous one:
INTERLAKEN: the adventure capital of the world set in a picturesque town in the Swiss Alps. Can it get any better? Go paragliding over the mountains and crystal blue lakes, hike up to the top of Harder Kulm, or go skiing in fresh powder. The options are endless! And don’t forget ending the day with a cup of Swiss hot chocolate.
- For the bucketlister:
WESTERN LOOP: Check off all the must-see sights in Europe on this extensive ten-day tour. Discover the main attractions and hidden gems in Berlin, Amsterdam, Belgium, Paris, and Barcelona.
- For the curious one:
BUDAPEST, VIENNA, AND SALZBURG: Get off the typical European beaten path and discover three unique cities in one weekend. Soak in the giant thermal baths in Budapest. Take a bite of sachertorte and melt in the chocolatey goodness in Vienna. Sing “The Hills are Alive” as you revel in the Austrian Alps where the Sound of Music was filmed in Salzburg.
- International Power Adapter (we can never have too many)
- Portable Phone Charger
- Travel Journal
- Passport Cover
- Flip Flops
- Travel Size Refillable Toiletry Kit