travel advice & savings
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How to pack for a study abroad trip then a month traveling after...
idrathrbclimbing's profile picture
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Hi everyone! I am getting ready to start planning for a study abroad trip to Europe, I will be in Italy for the month of June. After that, my boyfriend and I will likely travel to a few different areas for 2 weeks, then we will spend 2 weeks in Switzerland rock climbing.

Anyways, my packing needs will be slightly different the first month from the second. My question is, should I pack everything I will need in a single pack for the two months? The first month I won’t have to live out of the backpack ( I will be able to unpack and use drawers, etc) but the second month I will need to pretty much live out of backpack. How big of a pack do I need?

Also, there are some things that I will need the first month that I don’t the second, such as my laptop and some school items. Should I see if I can ship these back home when my month is done? Or how should I handle these items?

Thanks for your help!

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First you need to contact your Study Abroad office at your school and see if they offer a packing clinic based on all the past student experiences. They should also have a meeting that brings in a few students that went last summer and can give you great tips to save you money. Most airlines are now charging outragious rates for even the FIRST checked bag and even more for the second.
MOST students OVERPACK! They do have laundrymats in Italy and if you are going to Florence, they now have .99 Euro cent stores ($1.50USD) for great items like bic razors, shampoo, laundry soap, softdrinks and some food items / compare prices with local supermarkets away from the central tourist areas.
The students that I have dealt with say do not bring towels, soap, shampoo, blow dryer, hair iron, slutty hooker boots or high heels (many items easily bought in the city). The girls that I have met said that the students that had the apartments before them left a bunch of stuff like towels and many basic items. But be sure to buy an insect repellant candle upon arrival, popular with locals to keep pesty mosquitos out of your apartment. If going for ONLY a month of study, bring less than 10 days of summer clothes with a windbreaker/rain jacket. Bring tops and bottoms that mix and match each other and do laundry 2 or 3 times. Make sure most of the clothes can be worn on your next trip as well. Now that you have time at home, keep track on what you wear for a month and how much toiletries you use in one month. You don’t need to bring everything in your bathroom at home, just the basics and any medecine you can’t live without. Keep in mind that many students pay outragious rates to ship home CRAP from their month of studies, like glamour magazines, notebook paper, empty notebooks, pens, toiletries, old worn out clothing, busted hair dryers, etc., etc. It costs more to ship this crap home than to leave it behind and buy brand new stuff when you get home. As for laptop, either have a classmate take it home for you in their carry-on or take it on your next trip and lock it up in your hostel. Most of the cities that have large study abroad programs have either a Mail Box Etc or an UPS store. Do not use Italian post office unless you have insurance for lap top and erase all personl bank and C/C info before you ship it.

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I agree with Packer.

Random notes and comments:
Students definitely overpack and then still buy things and when it is time to leave, are like “what the hell do I do with all this stuff?”. You can get pretty much everything in Florence anyway. I am sure you will shop.

Is your boyfriend studying with you or is he meeting you? I ask this because any clothing or gear you think you will need for your after-study-abroad-trip he can just bring for you (pre-pack a small bag with the items and tell him to grab it). Also, if he is just visiting and then you are on your own after, I say send him back with some of your stuff. Of course there is always mailing things. You parents can mail you stuff as you need it (when I studied in Belgium during one summer I packed wayyy wrong and my parents had to mail me warm clothes as it was cold and rainy and I was thinking it would be summery hot and sunny).

Tampons/toiletries: Tampons, with an applicator, you should bring a full supply. They are somewhat difficult to find over there and when you do find them, they are pricey. Other toiletries such as shampoo, if you use a commercial brand like Pantene you will find it there, many American brands are sold world-wide. Hell, I found Biore face strips in Thailand. Also, don’t pack a towel, it takes up a lot of room and you can buy one and leave it there.

Electronics: do you use a blowdrier, straightner, etc? I would leave them at home and buy a cheap one over there. AS for phone, ipod, and camera chargers, make sure you have BOTH an adapter and a CONVERTER. Radioshack and Brookstone both sell the adapter/converter combo for like 25 bucks. This is important.

I hope I helped. Happy travels.