luggage stuffing

Packing Dos and Don’ts

(You don’t want your suitcase looking like this. Image by:

On April 16, Morgan posted about preparing to leave, and a lot of her stress included how to pack. Being a not-so-smart packer myself, I thought I would share a few words on the subject.

First of all, do not wait until the last minute to pack. I was still packing when it was time for us to leave the house and go to the airport, stuffing things in while running ten minutes late. This is not wise, not only because you should never let yourself be late for an international flight, but also because it means you’re not paying as much attention to what you’re packing. Don’t throw things in your suitcase just because they’re there! Chances are you’ll be packing useless items.

Secondly, since most who study abroad go to reliable countries, you can be sure that you can buy things when you get there. Only bring things that you cannot find at your destination or that would cost too much to buy again. Yes, there are lots of little things you’ll need, but it’s better to bring a little extra money and save suitcase space. Especially because you won’t know exactly what you’ll need until you get there. Most of the things on Morgan’s must-have list are exactly these kind of items. Some things are simply too big to pack, like laundry bags and an iron and kitchen necessities. Others can be found cheaply at many stores, like power cords and candles and hangers.

Also, be realistic about what you’ll use. I brought multiple packs of index cards and several small notebooks, thinking I would use them all in my language studies, but I still haven’t touched them and I’ve been abroad for over a year and a half. Your habits won’t change just because you’re starting a new way of life, so don’t let the starry-eyed new life cloud your judgment. Things like extra clothes and random books may seem like a great idea, but don’t waste space and weight on things you’re not absolutely sure you’ll use.

Why is it so important to not overpack? Because you’ll definitely buy souvenirs that you’ll need space for when you return home! Pack light when you leave so that you have space to pack heavy when you return! And keep in mind that you can also leave things behind when returning home. A handy way to save space is to only bring a small number of clothes, and then figure out where to get cheap stuff at your destination. And then you can even leave those clothes behind when you come home. Clothes may seem important at first, but I assure you there will be other souvenirs worth a lot more for the space used.

Pack far in advance, think things through, and good luck!


Summer is fast approaching but your study abroad preparations are just beginning. Get ready for study abroad over the summer with the funny yet informative ebook The Paris Diaries: The Study Abroad Experience Uncensored. Looking for something more technical like exactly how many and which documents do you need to get your French visa this summer? Check out Twenty in Paris: A Young American Perspective of Studying Abroad in Paris. Download the free Kindle App to your smart phone or iPad for on the go access.


Chelsea Fairless

Chelsea is a home-bred Texan currently living in Geneva, Switzerland and studying French at the University of Geneva, while living and working with a family as a part-time nanny. She has been living in the Geneva area since August 2012. You can follow more of her story on her blog and other social media sites.