No matter how long you spend preparing a list, packing, and re-packing, you’ll always end up with at least one thing that you wish you did or didn’t bring. Here are a few packing tips that are in no way foolproof or set in stone, but will hopefully be helpful in the weeks before your departure:
1. Bring some cash.
There will be a currency exchange at your host country’s airport, but that’s just an extra worry that you don’t need when you arrive. Get some ($100, tops) money exchanged before you leave so that you can immediately pay for food, metro tickets, or taxis after you land.
2. Think in layers.
Yes, you may decide to bring a heavy winter coat or a pair of sturdy boots, but generally try to pack clothes that are light and layerable. If you’re going to be abroad for at least six months, you’ll experience a few seasons and don’t have room to bring different clothes for each change in the weather.
3. Prepare an extra duffle.
Unless you have a massive amount of self control, you will leave your host country with more luggage than when you arrived. Packing an extra duffle bag, especially one like the foldable bags by alife design, will come in handy during your travels and can be a carryon bag if needed.
4. Leave the hairdryer at home.
(I’m going to pretend like I know what I’m talking about here) Devices like hair dryers, straighteners, curling irons, etc. are powered by 110 voltage in the US. This voltage differs in other countries – for example, outlets in Europe have 220 voltage. Unless you have a converter (vs. an adapter which just changes the shape of the plug) or dual-voltage appliance, leave the hairdryer at home if you don’t want it to fry. Just buy a cheap alternative in your host country.
5. Pack a power strip.
You’ll need to charge your laptop, camera, cell phone, iPod, Kindle, etc… instead of buying adapters for each of those chargers, just bring a power strip. But remember, the power strip won’t act as a converter, so again, leave the hairdryer at home.
Packing preferences will differ from person to person, but just keep in mind that you need to leave space for your luggage to expand with souvenirs, school papers, and other random bits. That 50 lb limit is much smaller than you think.