The key to smart and cost-efficient travelling abroad is choosing wisely what you pack beforehand. Leaving room for particular toiletries and packing the appropriate clothing will save you both stress and money on last minute, over-priced purchases.
To start, when in doubt, bring a coat. Even if weather.com says it’s going to be 50 degrees the day you arrive, there are still going to be those days when it’s incredibly cold and you don’t want to be jacketless.
As for all other aspects of your wardrobe, the culture of your abroad destination is likely going to be different than at Cornell. Ask people who’ve travelled to your destination before what people wear, especially when it comes to going out. The bandage skirts, crop tops and sky-high heels that are standard in Ithaca are not always the norm overseas. And in places like Copenhagen – my home for a semester – the cobblestone makes any shoes besides wedges or flats impractical. You may have packed more than you could ever wear, but bring the wrong clothes and you might as well have come naked.
Moving on to hygiene – bring shower shoes! Just because your program says you have a single with your own bathroom does not mean that your shower will be barefoot friendly. Seriously, don’t be like me and shower on a slab of cardboard until you find the city’s only pair of rubber flip-flops for a heaping $40 dollars. Plus, who knows what kind of sketchy hostels you’ll be booking for your weekend excursions, better safe than fungus-y.
On another bathroom related note, if you are particular about your facewash, makeup remover or any other toiletry, bring it with you! CVS (much like normal deodorant) does not exist in Europe and chances are, your selection will be slim and in the native language. Maybe you are fluent in whatever language that is, but even so you probably don’t know how to say “non-comedogenic facial cleanser for sensitive skin.” Regardless of your preferences or lack thereof, you should bring at least a trial-sized amount of all essential hygienic products. The last thing you want to find after 15 hours of traveling is no shampoo.
Additionally, depending on the country, acquiring prescription medication can be a difficult to impossible feat. To avoid scrambling to get your birth control before the end of the month or anything else you absolutely need, bring at least two months supply with you. And if you’re a Dayquil junkie, it’s a good idea to stuff a few of those bottles in your suitcase as well.
Now let’s talk nourishment. If you have a favorite granola bar or packaged meal of choice (i.e. Mac & Cheese), make sure to find room in your suitcase for a hefty amount. Whatever it is, your city won’t sell it and you will miss it. Plus, when you’ve spent you’re first few lunch breaks getting lost, you’ll be glad you packed those Clif Bars. On a side note for the ladies (or maybe some of you guys too), if your chaser of choice is Crystal Light, be sure to bring a box or two because those heavenly crystals don’t exist abroad. And as if you needed justification for bringing food, you will then have an excuse to fill all that eventual suitcase space with new clothes!
Of course, with every country there are specific items that will be helpful to have. The best thing you can do is ask people who’ve been on your program beforehand what they’ve needed. Worst comes to worst, if you don’t bring something, you can get a version of it wherever you are, but it just might cost you!
Liz Waldorf is a junior in the College of Human Ecology. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Notes from Abroad: TRAVEL TIPS appears on Thursdays.