What to Pack

NU Student AbroadPacking the right way is important if you do not want to be weighed down during your travels. When you buy items overseas, remember that everything has to fit back into your bags to go home! It is a good idea to leave some room in your bags for gifts and souvenirs. As a last resort, you can pay extra if your luggage is too heavy or mail the excess home.

In addition, you might find The Ultimate Packing List helpful.  

Packing Tips

Try to pack clothes that match everything. Avoid bringing clothes that wrinkle easily or require dry cleaning. Bring a jacket that is both waterproof and warm. Roll your clothes when packing; doing so will save space. The following is a list of suggested items you may need, other than clothes:

  • Towel(s)/Washcloth(s)
  • Hangers (may wish to buy once there)
  • Dictionaries (pocket-sized for the countries you will visit)
  • Money Belt/ Necklace
  • Camera
  • Adapter and voltage converter
  • Catalog from your home college for reference (or a list of classes you plan to take, approved by advisor)
  • Locks (for backpack, luggage, and hostel)
  • Umbrella
  • Comb/brush
  • Cold Medicine, aspirin or other pain reliever, vitamins
  • Sunscreen
  • Something that stops diarrhea (Imodium A-D)
    Laxative or stool softener
  • Feminine products (there may not be the brand you use and they will be more expensive)
  • Soap/Shampoo (favorite brands may be expensive or unavailable)
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash
  • Contact solution
  • Deodorant
  • Motion sickness medicine
  • Maps/guide books
  • Laundry line for weekend travel
  • Backpack
  • Small address book
  • Can opener/Swiss army knife
  • Flip flops (for showers)
  • Flashlight
  • Rechargeable batteries
  • Insect repellent
  • Journal/ Pens
  • Sleepsack (generally made of sheets for use in hostels)
  • Travel alarm clock (battery operated)
  • Small first aid kit
  • Sunglasses
  • iPod/ MP3 player
  • Prescription medication (in original marked container)


  • Two pieces checked luggage:  Keep in mind as you pack that you are only allowed two pieces of luggage on most airlines. Luggage size cannot exceed the size stipulated by the individual airline. Airlines have the right to refuse to carry your excess luggage.
  • Subject to search:  In certain situations, the airline may require most or even all of your bags to be checked, so be prepared to do so.
  • Pressurized containers:If you bring aerosol containers, carry them on board with you. They can explode in the cargo hold.
  • Do not bring pepper spray, mace or tasers. They are illegal in many countries, carrying fines of up to $100,000 and 14 years in prison.
  • Prohibited items:  If you have an item you want to take that you think might be questionable under current FAA guidelines, visit the Transportation Security Administration website at  http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/prohibited/permitted-prohibited-items.shtm


Luggage Tips from the FAA:

Checked Baggage:

  • Pack shoes, boots, sneakers and other footwear on top of other contents in your luggage.
  • Avoid over-packing your bag so that the screener will be able to easily reseal your bag if it is opened for inspection. If possible, spread your contents over several bags. Check with your airline or travel agent for maximum weight limitations.
  • Avoid packing liquids if possible as they might leak in handling. If you need them, pack them in a sealable plastic bag.
  • Don't stack piles of books or documents on top of each other; spread them throughout your baggage.

Carry-on and Checked Baggage:

  • Don't forget to place identification tags with your name, address and phone number on all of your baggage, including your laptop computer. It is a good idea to place an identification tag inside your baggage as well.
  • Remove laptop from carry-on bag, backpack, or laptop bag to go through security screening.
  • Consider putting personal belongings in clear plastic bag to reduce the chance that a screener will have to handle them.

Further Suggestions:

  • When traveling a domestic-to-domestic to international flight, you need to check with the airline to see if you will have to pick up your luggage at any point to transfer it for your international flight. Check going there and coming back because it may change.
  • Liquids should be in a plastic container. Any item kept in plastic containers are prone to break or leak in flight due to changes in air pressure. Store them in plastic Ziploc-type  bags to avoid a mess. Also consider purchasing these items abroad.  

"3-1-1 for carry-ons = 3.4 ounce (100ml) bottle or less (by volume) ; 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin. One-quart bag per person limits the total liquid volume each traveler can bring. 3.4 ounce (100ml) container size is a security measure." (Transportation Security Administration) Go to the following website for more details: http://www.tsa.gov/311/

  • Think about leaving valuables at home. If you can't live without something, put it in your carry-on bag, NOT in your checked luggage.
  • Keep prescription drugs in their original, labeled containers to avoid hassles going through customs. You may also want to keep them in your carry-on bag (or day-pack) for easy access in case of an emergency. You should also contact the consulate of your host country to learn of any regulations the country may have for the drugs you will be carrying. Also, if you plan to renew a prescription while abroad, be sure to have a chemical breakdown of the prescription rather than its name to avoid any mistranslations.
  • For battery-operated items, consider bringing a good supply of batteries. They can be expensive elsewhere. Or consider buying rechargeable batteries.
  • Determine voltage requirements for electrically operated items in the country you are to visit. Even with a converter and adapter, there is no guarantee that appliances will work correctly. You may want to consider buying items such as hair dryers, curling irons and straightening irons upon your arrival, particularly if you will be there an extended period  of time.