10 Things to Pack + What Not to Bring

Jenny Oslund
10-things-to-pack-for-intern or study abroad

To pack or not to pack? Whether you have just been accepted into an internship or study abroad, or this is your first time abroad and want some tips… We’ve got you covered! Aside from the logistical and paperwork side, also keep in mind some do’s and don’ts of packing for an international trip. Here are 10 things to pack PLUS five things not to bring!

10 Things TO Pack for Intern or Study Abroad

1. Outlet adapter, universal adapter

You will need an outlet adapter since other countries’ outlets aren’t compatible with the US, so make sure that the adapter you’re buying is compatible for the country you’re flying to! Amazon is a great site to purchase adapters.

PRO TIP: Bring a power strip so you can plug various devices in and save on buying too many adapters.

2. Over-the-counter medicine

OTC medicines (like Dayquil, Nyquil, Tylenol, Advil) are not always readily available in other countries; in fact, what is normally found in the U.S. as OTC will require a prescription overseas. So this is definitely something you’ll want to pack extra of to avoid waiting hours in the emergency room for something like cold medicine. 

3. Prescription medicines

Similar to #2, you’ll want to have a supply of prescription medicines to last your whole trip. This will help to avoid any excessive charges for buying them abroad. Some examples may also include contact lenses and solution.

4. Local currency

Bringing around $300-500 (let’s say for a 3-month program) is in your best interest because a lot of stores and restaurants often do not accept credit cards. Also, note that ATM exchange rates can be HEFTY. If you do run out of cash, and need some, make sure to research beforehand the currency exchange shops with the lowest rates (typically, the ones in the middle of the city center will be the biggest scams).

5. Mobile apps!

Pre-download Google Maps and City Mapper. These apps will be some of your best friends to help you navigate a new metro or bus system; Google Maps can also be used offline. Google Translate (although for Spanish translation specifically, I personally use SpanishDict) will also be helpful for obvious reasons. 

6. Student ID

This may seem like a no-brainer, but many tourist attractions/museums offer student rates —but can be stingy about accepting U.S. university IDs. Such places will want to verify your student ID with the date of issue or expiration date. If your student ID doesn’t have some sort of date on it, or to be on the safe side, one option is to purchase an international student card if you’re thinking of making several visits to museums, tourist attractions, etc. Always better to be safe and bring it to grab a discount when you can!

7. Good walking shoes!

In Spain, you’ll be walking a lot more as part of your commute compared to in the U.S. I don’t recommend that you wear your running shoes all day, but a pair of comfortable shoes to last you through the day will be a life-saver for cobble-stoned streets. In terms of going-out shoes for the ladies, platform wedges will be your best friend—they also just happen to be de moda.

8. Special beauty, grooming products

If you’re like me and require a good deal of hair styling products, which can be hard to come by abroad, it is okay to bring enough to last your entire stay. Most makeup brands can be found overseas, but you can always check online to double-check. 

This is also recommended if you have a specific type of hair or need exact products. Some can be more expensive to purchase abroad since it’s imported compared to back home!

9. Foldable duffle bag/backpack

These are great because you can tuck them away in your luggage at the start of your trip without taking up much room or weight. In the end, when you can’t possibly fit anything more in your luggage, this foldable bag then serves as another carry-on! They’re also ideal for shorter weekend trips to take instead of lugging your heavy suitcase around or having to buy another duffle.

10. Money belt

PRO TIP: Wear a money belt underneath clothes when you go out to clubs so you don’t worry about getting a purse or phone stolen in crowded venues. I have found it especially helpful when I have to take my passport along with me too (sometimes an ID isn’t enough, tear). As an alternative, there are also literal money belts with hidden compartments in the lining.

5 Things NOT to Pack for Intern or Study Abroad

1. Too much!

Leave enough room for clothes and souvenirs that you’ll likely buy abroad (trust me, you will). Try to resist bringing your entire closet, even if it is a longer internship or study abroad. Also, pack for the seasons if there are any in your destination and program length.

2. Hot hairstyling tools

Hot tools will fry if you plug them into international outlet adapters. Moreover, they can be pretty bulky to lug around…I’ve experimented several times to bring different brands of hot tools abroad with me; every time, without fail, they fry and aren’t touched for the rest of the trip. If these are a necessity though, you can always pick up an inexpensive one once you’re abroad. It’s not worth bringing your own and possibly ruining the hardware!

3. Costco-sized anything

You can buy household items like detergent, snacks, and towels easily and for, most likely, cheaper abroad. Buying in bulk before your intern or study abroad trip won’t be necessary and takes up more space in your suitcase (this goes for feminine products too, ladies). The exception to this are things like prescription medicines.

4. Expensive, valuable items

In the case of being robbed or losing them, you’ll thank yourself ahead of time for not packing your family heirlooms. The exception to this is, of course, your laptop and phone.

PRO TIP: Bring an older phone as a spare in case your phone does get stolen or lost.

5. Bulky shoes!

Depending on the weather, bringing too many and too heavy shoes will weigh your luggage down a ton. Also, you may just find an amazing pair of shoes while abroad anyway (which you will)! If it’s absolutely necessary to pack snow boots or your favorite Doc Martens, save space by wearing them onto the plane. This goes too for bulky jackets.

Until next time,

Jenny O.

Adelante Abroad HQ Intern

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