A semester abroad is undeniably exciting—but how do you pack for months of travel for a country you’ve probably never been to? Most people want to bring clothes that’ll look good in pictures and still allow them to feel comfortable, but it’s hard to know what to bring, especially if you’re limited to one or two suitcases. But fret not: I’m here to tell you that you need only to pack the essentials, which is a much smaller amount than you think. Everything you need to bring for a semester of travels can, in fact, fit in an average-sized suitcase without being ticketed as overweight.
Sure, this may seem like a limited list, but you’re forgetting about all the items you will acquire throughout your travels, like the perfect leather purse from Florence, Italy or the beautiful handmade wool sweater from the Irish countryside. Just remember that less is really more in this case. Ahead, I’ve compiled a list of everything you absolutely need to fit your new lifestyle abroad. Bon voyage!
- A chambray shirt: This essential button-down is easy to mix and layer with throughout your travels. Go for a lighter wash so that it pairs easily with your favorite dark skinny jeans.
- A few T-shirts and tanks: Bring a few options in a variety of basic colors like navy, white, black, and gray so that you can layer them under your chambray shirt or wear them alone in warmer weather.
- A pair of classic wash jeans: You can’t jet off without your favorite pair of versatile jeans in your suitcase.
- A pair of black jeans: You can dress up these up or down while sightseeing, going out to dinner, and more.
- Trendy pants: Whether they’re navy culottes, gingham trousers, or metallic leggings, a cool pair of pants is always the move to craft a statement outfit for all those Instagram moments.
- A jumpsuit: Pair it with your leather jacket, jean jacket, or all by itself, because it is truly its own look.
- An oversize sweater: This will be your go-to piece to keep you warm on days that don’t require a jacket but are still a bit chilly. It’s also a great style to have in your wardrobe if you are traveling to countries with colder climates and need to pair a turtleneck underneath as well.
- A black turtleneck: You can’t go wrong with classic wardrobe piece. Wear it alone with a pair of jeans for Parisian vibes, or layer it under a sweater if you’re traveling to colder climates.
- A cocktail dress: You never know when you might be whisked away for a date at a trendy restaurant or to a villa with a view. Having a dressy component to your wardrobe, whether it’s a set, a dress, or a statement, skirt is a must when adventure calls.
- A sundress: For warmer adventures, a cute, flowy dress is a definite necessity.
- A bikini: For those opportunities to jump in the ocean in Greece, visit the spas in Budapest, or swim in the sea by Cinque Terre, you’ll definitely need a bathing suit.
- A crossbody bag: You need the perfect tote to stash your train tickets, museum stubs, and polaroids of faraway places during your travels, and a bag that wraps around you to stay close to your side at all times is the way to go.
- A pair of sandals: In case you find yourself strolling the streets of Santorini or walking along the beach in Cinque Terre, a pair of neutral strappy sandals is an absolute must.
- A pair of flats: Don’t forget to pack your favorite pair of ballet flats in a basic color like tan, black, or navy to match with any outfit and start your day ahead of the game. Make sure they’re durable and comfy to walk in, because you’re sure to wear them out.
- A leather jacket: Whether you wear it for a night out with the girls or during a visit to Milan, a cropped leather jacket is essential.
- A jean jacket: Yet another perfect piece for mild climates, a jean jacket is another must for your abroad wardrobe.
- A windbreaker: Plan on bringing a windbreaker or raincoat to account for those few stormy days. It’s especially useful if you plan on visiting coastal areas, which can be very windy.
- An actually warm jacket: Whether you choose a warm, wool style or a more active, puffy version, you’ll find it extremely useful on those chilly afternoons or when you book a spontaneous excursion to Iceland.
- A heavy winter scarf: Bring one in a bold color to add a cheerful pop to your dark winter coat.
- A beanie: This will come in handy on colder days or even just days when your hair is refusing to cooperate.
- A trendy hat: Whether you choose the fisherman’s style or a cool beret, a hat adds some oomph to any look.
- Everyday sneakers: Trust us—these will be your best friend. Be on the lookout for a cute, comfortable so you can pair them with multiple outfits.
- A pair of black boots: Whether you choose Doc Martens or a chunky Frye bootie, these will also be essential in creating your everyday look.
- A chic pair of sunglasses:They pair well with that bikini of yours and are much needed to block out the sun as you sail by the island of Capri off the Amalfi Coast. Bring a few styles along to add some flair to your #OOTD.
- A simple tote bag: Make sure it can fit all the essentials—a book, water bottle, and a compartment for your passport and wallet.
- A backpack: The key to a backpack for a semester abroad is choosing one that doubles as an adventure buddy and is functional for school.
What are your must-haves for a semester abroad? Let us know in the comments below!
Featured photo by @marisaganley.