What to Bring vs What To Buy For Your Fall Semester Abroad

By Eileen MacTigue

Figuring out what to fill the precious allotted 50 pounds in your suitcase with before venturing across the pond is tricky business. Here, we’ll outline what you’ll want to be sure to remember and what you can wait to purchase.

What To Bring:

1. External Charger

You’ll find yourself in cities you’ve never been to while traveling! But every city has wifi so bring an external in case of emergencies and for peace of mind.

2. Halloween Costume

October 31st is still a date in Europe! Stay cheap, and pack an old costume, or a friend’s costume…chances of being seen in the same costume for two Halloweens are pretty slim.


3. Rain Coat / Boots

One good rain coat, and a pair of ankle rain boots (preferable because they weigh MUCH less!) are vital for your wanderlust filled weekends.


4. Melatonin

Planes, trains, and automobiles, [and buses]….you will need your sleep! Most legs of transportation are relatively quick, but catch up on some zzzz’s to get extra energy for your itinerary packed weekends.

5. Cute Backpack

Northface & Under Armour are great travel backpack companies that will fit a weekend’s worth of clothing and toiletries… but what about walking around in-city? Buy yourself a Taaluma Totes backpack—perfect for the camera, wallet, phone, a small jacket, etc. Plus you’re hands free!


6. Face-Wash

If you’re like me, you have a brand of face-wash you stick to…I myself am a loyal Murad customer. Bring a bottle of your favorite stuff—it’s not likely you’ll stumble across it (especially in Italy!)

7. Extra Phone

Self explanatory.

8. Medications / Vitamins

It’s tricky to find Advil liquid-gels, birth control prescriptions, & Emergen-C packets. You won’t be gone forever, but it saves the hassle of worrying about it later in the semester.

9. Extra pillow case

You may stay in accommodations you won’t love… sleep better by bringing your own pillow case. It takes no space to pack, and is a little piece of home.

10. Umbrella

Again, self explanatory.

11. Tights

Weirdly handy to have here. Once the cool nights roll in, you’ll be shocked by how many outfits you can transform and fool people in with simply black tights.


 What To Buy On Arrival:

1. Shampoo / conditioner / body wash

Garnier Fructis, Dove, Pantene, Tresemme, and more…all exist in drug stores in Europe as well. Save your checked-bag weight.


2. Water bottle

You might not find a CamelBak easily over here, but don’t bring your pricey bottle…you will lose it and end up buying one here. Save the money and trouble by purchasing 1-2 inexpensive plastic (not aluminum) water bottles here.

3. Hair dyer

Don’t burn the dorm, apartment, or house down. Don’t give yourself an electric shock. No matter how many times, or converters I have tried…you will blow a fuse.


Just avoid this.

4. 6 + pairs of shoes (this is not something to buy…it is something to avoid altogether!)

Rain boots, running sneakers, cute sandals, ankle / going-out boots, tennis shoes, flip flops… that’s it! 99% of the time you won’t wear heels & you won’t wear wedges…trust me.


5. Blanket / Towel

Unless you’re a ninja packer, unlike myself, save room and head to Ikea, or a similar store in your city to get small essentials like towels, fuzzy blankets, sheets, etc.


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