Packing to Study Abroad – The Checklist for International Students

travelling alone
The prospect of studying abroad as an international student is certainly an exciting one! Think of all the experiences you’ll have: meeting new friends from all over the world, exploring new places, and indulging in all the local food – all in the name of education.
But before you hop on that plane, you’ve got to conquer the challenge that is packing to study abroad for the first time. To help you from feeling too overwhelmed, we’ve created this international student checklist that will help you prepare to study abroad.
Standard items

  • Backpack – onsider one that helps prevent theft when carrying laptops or cameras
  • Books
  • Certificates and results
  • Daypack – for day excursions (we prefer sling bags like Slingsafe LX400 for this)
  • Gifts – It’s nice to bring something for your home stay or host family
  • Glasses/contact lenses – bring extra
  • Towels
  • Journal – write down, sketch, and eternalise your experiences the old-fashioned way!
  • Passport (of course)
  • Pens, pencils, notebooks
  • Pillowcase – Claim pillows as your own (when staying at hostels anyway)
  • Plane tickets
  • Prescriptions – Bring enough for the entire length of stay, and if you’re staying for more than three months, see a doctor abroad instead to fill your prescription. Just remember to speak with your usual doctor before you leave
  • Student ID (if you have it before you leave) – Great for discounts
  • Sunglasses
  • Empty metal water bottle – You can’t bring liquids as you board your flight, but you can refill them after, while helping the environment by not wasting plastic bottles
  • Vitamins – May be difficult to find the ones you’ve been taking
  • Wash cloths – Especially useful to wipe furniture when you move in for first few days
  • Portable safe – Stash your important items and valuables, especially if you’re staying with new mates


  • Belts – No more than two
  • Fancy outfits – For special parties or occasions where you have to dress and suit up
  • Flip flops – Good for showering in hostels. One pair is enough.
  • Hoodie and sweater
  • Jeans – A few pairs
  • Light jacket – Water resistant is preferred
  • Pajamas – Two pairs at most
  • Purse – No more than two
  • Running shoes – Good to have if you join a gym or enjoy running outdoors
  • Scarves
  • Accessories –  Watches, necklaces, scrunchies, needles safety pins, bobby pins etc. Remember to store it in your portable safe!
  • Socks and undergarments – Enough for two weeks
  • Swimsuit
  • Walking shoes – Find a comfy fashionable shoe – walking is a major part of everyday life
  • Wallet – A hidden one is great when you’re carrying a lot of cash
  • Workout clothes – just one set is enough

*Bring clothes that are easily layered for various climate conditions, do not need ironing, can be drip-dried, and are comfortable and durable. Do check your program if there are special dressing requirements.

  • Contact lenses solution
  • Hair brush/comb
  • Make up
  • Razors
  • Sunblock/Suntan lotion
  • Toothbrush

*Don’t forget your adaptor if you’re bringing a hair straightener/blow dryer
**Unless you’re loyal to the brands you use, you can easily find your other toiletry needs when you arrive

  • Carry-on luggage – Check your airline – usually you are allowed one carry-on size bag as well as a personal item, such as a sling laptop bag, tote bag, purse, etc.
  • Toiletries in your carryon – Check if your toiletries fulfill airline requirements. Otherwise, wrap them in a plastic bag and pack them in your luggage instead

Electronics and gadgets

  • Adapters that fit the place you are studying*
  • Camera – Memory cards, chargers and adapters
  • Cell phone – Your cell phone may not work abroad. Be sure to research, and if possible buy beforehand your carrier and SIM card
  • Flash drive
  • Headphones – Noise-cancelling ones are a great option
  • Laptop – Chargers and adapter
  • Power strip with converter

*Research and buy the type of adapters you need to bring before leaving. You can check the types of plugs, and the ones supported by the different countries.

  • ATM cards – Certain banks are able to provide zero foreign transaction fees when you cash out in a foreign country. Give you local bank a call and find out if they provide such services, and notify them that you are going to study abroad
  • Cash – Remember to store in a safe place (like the portable safe you just brought)
  • Credit cards – Notify bank/credit card companies that you are going to study abroad, and not all credit cards will work overseas too

ISIC card – Available in over 130 countries, you can get it for an affordable price, gaining discounts to products and services like software licenses and cinema access, to bookstores, public transport, cafés and eateries.