The ultimate guide to packing for study abroad: Part 2, APPAREL

So, you want to study abroad, eh? You will need to bring clothes.

*Trumpet fanfare* Wasn’t that profound?

This post will be slightly female-oriented, but I think that’s okay because that’s what I know [as a female]. And let’s be honest, we’re really the ones who struggle with this department, for the most part.

My main struggle when deciding what to pack was the length of my stay. I arrived in Graz in February (read: winter) and will be departing in July (summer), so… what do you pack?

Answer: a little bit of everything but mostly, layers and layers


  • as we talked about last time, either Space Bag your clothes or roll them up really tightly so that you are being space efficient. If you end up rolling them, one way to stay organized and keep track of what you’ve already packed (just in case you need to take something out before you zip your luggage closed) is to categorize your clothing into types: based on sleeve length, whether its a top or a bottom, or perhaps, season. Do whatever makes sense to you, because then you’ll understand the system! DUH.
  • When I was packing, I categorized all the clothes that I found in my closet and drawers into three piles: MUST BRING, MIGHT NEED, and WOULD LIKE IF I CAN FIND SPACE. This way, I could pack my essentials first, then move on to lower priority clothing as I had space. You’ll probably want a large floor space to lay this all out.
      • layers – check your average monthly temperatures before you start packing to make sure that you at least know how warm and how cold it’ll be, then pack cardigans, sweaters, pullover, tees, and tanks. Granted, don’t bring all of them, just pack one or two of each. (For example: I brought four tanks with me, three-four tees, four three-quarter length sleeves, a few blouses that are lighter-weight, a few sweaters, two three-quarter sleeve cardigans (gray and black because they go with everything!), and a couple camisoles.) Prioritize based on what you usually wear.
      • 2 pairs of jeans – Bring two different styles and re-wear them til you can’t possibly wear them again! Study abroad is about wearing the same thing over and over again. It’s not in the brochures, but trust me: you will wear everything again and again. I brought a pair of skinnies that can also be cuffed to serve as capri jeans and a darker wash of boot cut for less casual wear.
      • 1 other pair of everyday pants – I brought gray jeans to serve as this. You won’t want to wear jeans everyday, but you won’t need lots of dress pants or anything like that. Keep it simple.
      • As much underwear as you can possibly cram into your suitcase, but only the comfy ones. When you’re on the go, you don’t want to be wearing uncomfortable underwear, and you won’t wear it if it’s uncomfortable. So then it’d just be taking up precious suitcase space.
      • Rock the socks! because you’re going to be wearing good walking shoes so much, you’ll need lots of socks so that you don’t have to do laundry every week. (we’ll talk about shoes in the accessories post, coming soon!)
      • 2 pairs of pajamas – depending on how much the weather will change, you might want pajamas for two seasons, but I brought long pants and a t-shirt as mine. It typically gets cool at night, so this was good for me. Again, you won’t want to have to wait for your pajamas to get dry after you launder them before you can sleep. Have a spare pair.
      • skirts, dresses – This is a style preference. I love skirts and dresses, so I brought quite a few. The pluses to bringing a dress is that it’s a complete outfit, so it makes for efficient packing. Maxi skirts are nice for effortless style since they look chic but are really comfy as well.
      • Workout clothes – Again, this depends on you. I brought one set of workout clothes, which has served me well. You can always re-wear your workout clothes if necessary, and you will probably find yourself quite busy and that you walk a lot (thus not needing to work out intentionally as much).
      • That’s TOTALLY up to you. We’ve covered just about everything you’ll need, so this category is for all the extras in those categories. You know, that extra tank or shirt that you might like but aren’t sure if you’ll wear it or have room for it.
  • Bring your favorite clothes! This is really important. Don’t bring something that you never wear at home. In fact, go through your closet, find the things you never wear, and get rid of them (donate, consign) before you even start packing. If you don’t wear it at home, you certainly won’t wear it when you’re trying to make friends in a new place. Bring your favorites, because you’ll get sick of your clothes no matter what.
  • Bring a travel clothesline if you can. There are no guarantees that your dryer will work (ours just heats stuff up, basically… mmmm, wet, hot sheets. that’s helpful), that you’ll even have a dryer, or that you’ll have a drying rack in the absence of a working dryer. The Container Store has a great one that I’ve found helpful. Actually… The Container Store has a lot of helpful travel things. Just make sure you’re willing to spend a bit if you head over there for more than just a couple things.
  • Also, don’t buy everything new! I know it’s tempting to say Oh, I’m going abroad, I need a whole new wardrobe, but really, you’ll feel much more comfortable and more like yourself if you wear your tried and true favorites. Sure, get a few new things if you need them, but take what you have. Save your cash for adventures, like trips to Budapest!

So, now that we’ve established that you will need clothes and have covered the basics, you are ready to begin packing! Comment if you have any further questions about the process! I’m happy to share my experience.

Until the next installment, HAPPY PACKING!

One thought on “The ultimate guide to packing for study abroad: Part 2, APPAREL

  1. Pingback: The ultimate guide to packing for study abroad: Part 3, SHOES « Journey [In Austria] to Who I Want to Be

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