Archive | September, 2012

Packing Checklist

24 Sep

Before embarking on their abroad journey, most universities will provide students with a rough outline of what they should bring on their trip. In the case that they don’t, check out University of Washington’s abroad checklist here or Your Study Abroad’s checklist here. Depending on your destination, gender and loyalty to your clothing, what you pack will vary. Household, bedroom and hygienic necessities will depend on whether you  do a home-stay, an apartment or hostel. A good place to get household and bedroom necessities once you’ve arrived abroad are the “Chinese bazaars.” There you can find anything from towels and kitchen appliances, to school supplies and costumes for a (very) affordable price, quality products are debatable.

Keep in mind that no matter where you study abroad, there is a pretty good chance you’ll encounter every type of weather if and when you travel to other countries. My advice is that you do some research prior to visiting these countries. Things to consider when packing: season/climate, excursions, transportation (walking vs. metro), night life, study abroad duration and country’s currency.

Necessary items (no matter where you study abroad):

  • European outlet converter (2 at the very least)
  • Backpack or small carry-on bag — good for weekend trips
  • Chargers (laptop, cell phone, ipod, etc.)
  • Lock — for hostels, traveling
  • Multiple copies of your credit cards, passports
  • Deodorant — I haven’t had any luck finding ‘normal’ deodorant in Europe
  • Medication (prescription drugs should be taken in your carry-on)
  • Emergency phone numbers and contact information
  • University contact information

Other items (if you have room, these will save time and money):

  • Shampoo, conditioner, toiletries — it’s nice to not have to worry about these for the first couple of weeks with all of the rush and excitement surrounding your arrival
  • Sheets — if you have extra room in your luggage, bring disposable sheets for your bed
  • Rainboots — If you were to be studying abroad in, say, London, it may be necessary to have these!
  • Sunglasses
  • Weather appropriate clothing: raincoats, snow jacket (skiing??), heavy coat, snow boots, etc.
  • Umbrella
  • Alarm clock — my personal savior
  • City maps and guidebooks of your region
  • Journal
  • Camera
  • Local currency
  • Light-weight books/iPad/Nook/eReader

Any items you bring with you that you plan to throw out before returning home, will give you extra room in your suitcase. Luxury items, such as, straighteners, blow dryers, electrical razors and toothbrushes, are more likely to break or blow a fuse than to last you the duration of your stay. All of these items can be purchased at a Chinese bazaar, supermarket, or mall abroad. Generally students will do a lot of walking abroad, and in some cases they will have to throw out their shoes before returning home. Reconsider bringing your nicest boots if you plan on living in a city or on rough terrain.

When I studied abroad in Barcelona, I packed very little clothing thinking I could buy things I needed. The outcome was me spending more money on clothing, and spending less on eating out. Use your own judgement. Keep in mind the amount of space you have in your suitcase and how much you want to return home with. Shipping items to and from home can be costly (40 euros in some cases). I brought two large suitcases because my airline allowed me to, but typically airlines will allow you to travel with one suitcase and one carry-on and a purse. Check your airline’s policy on additional baggage, and suitcase weight limitations.


Budget Flying 101

23 Sep

Regardless of the size of your parents or guardians’ income, studying abroad is an expensive opportunity. Housing, academics, transportation, souvenirs, travel excursions and food can eat away at your bank account if you’re not careful about budgeting your money. Each student will spend their money differently depending on what they consider important, but airfare is typically the most costly expense for student travelers.

Many study abroad students do weekend trips (3-4 days) in another country. To reduce traveling time, many students use carry-on baggage to substitute checked baggage; carry-ons allow for a quick escape off the plane, are easy to maneuver when boarding a connecting flight or train, and are always free (within the weight/size limitations). In the case that you are only bringing a carry-on, pack only the essentials. Packing light will also make your experience more enjoyable when lugging your bag around in search of your sleeping accommodations.


Despite its history of poor customer service, questionable charges and frequent bumpy rides, Ryanair is probably the most well-known budget airlines. For this reason alone, I have dedicated almost an entire blog post to this airline. I must admit that my experiences with Ryanair left me resistant to flying with them again, but it’s hard to pass up the opportunity to fly 30 euros roundtrip from Barcelona to Belgium.

Ryanair’s cabbin baggage terms and conditions are excruciatingly strict (they walk around with a luggage box to measure your bag). Below are Ryanair’s cabin baggage terms and conditions:

| Strictly one item of cabin baggage per passenger (excluding
infants) weighing up to 10kg with maximum dimensions of
55cm x 40cm x 20cm is permitted. (handbag, briefcase, laptop,
shop purchases, camera etc.) must be carried in your 1
permitted piece of cabin baggage.

Extra/oversized cabin baggage will be refused at the boarding
gate, or where available, placed in the hold of the aircraft for a
fee of £50/€50. If you are unsure, check at the Bag Drop desk
before going through security. |

Before flying Ryanair, click here for a list of Ryanair’s destinations. For more information regarding general terms and conditions of carriage, click here.

More low-cost airlines:

Recommended Travel Search Engines 

Kayak is a popular search engine that provides you
with a list of available cheap flights for your destination. My favorite thing about Kayak, is the “Deals” tab. You can choose your origin and destination, or simply sort deals based on popularity, relevance and price. Kayak’s deals will appeal to students without a destination in mind. Download Kayak’s free Travel App for iPhone and Android phones to research flights on-the-go. Though Kayak’s app does not allow you to book flights, it’s useful in the case of layovers and flight delays.

For “The 26 Travel Apps That Will Change Your Life” (Conde Nast’s Traveler), click here.

More travel Search engines:

[Most airlines and search engines offer hostel, hotel and car rental deals.]

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