Packing to study abroad

Moving to Europe for two years or more? Read on.

As much as I hate starting with this, I have to say it. The list of things to be packed will be quite different for Indians flying abroad compared to any other nationality (If you’re not Indian, you can just skip the utensils and spices category). The airlines I used had permitted two large suitcases of about 23+23 kilos, one cabin bag of 7 kilos, and one handbag of 5 kilos. I know a few Indians who actually carried 75 kilos through Air India! Don’t be that Indian. Let me help you filter the crap out of your luggage based on what you will and probably won’t use. You can start by dedicating half your luggage to clothes.

Clothes

If it’s a cold country and you’re reaching in the winter, you will need a warm jacket to keep you alive until you figure out where you can buy the rest of your winter stuff. But if you’re reaching off winter, just carry a light jacket along with the usual clothes. It’s definitely better to invest in winter clothes in the cold country. Make sure you don’t carry anything you haven’t worn in the last 6 months. Filter through them multiple times till you’re sure you have packed 23 kilos of clothes you will definitely wear. Approximately, I would say the amount of clothes I carried lasts me two weeks until it’s time to do laundry again. That should be good enough.

Footwear

So, I had taken 2 pairs of flats, 2 pairs of sneakers, 1 pair of boots and 1 pair of flip flops. I have only been using the sneakers, the boots and another pair of boots that I bought here. My suggestion would be to go as general as possible. One pair of white sneakers and one pair of black boots for outdoors, 5-6 pairs of socks and a pair of flip flops for indoor. Anything else you need can be bought at the destination.

Bags & accessories

I had carried a large backpack as cabin baggage and a handbag. The backpack was used for all my short trips and handbag was used for grocery shopping. I got a smaller backpack once I got here which is used to carry books and lunch to University. I also used packing cubes to segregate clothes and toiletries so I use them now to keep things neat in my room.

Toiletries

I would suggest you carry large amounts of toiletries only if you have sensitive skin and can’t do without the usual ones. I carried shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, serum, body lotion, toothpaste and brushes. Which I was glad I did because I couldn’t differentiate between them in the stores here in Italy the first few weeks. For girls, I’d say a pack of liners and your usual pads it should be enough till your next trip to the store. If you use the menstrual cup, you don’t even have to carry that. Carry roll on deodorants instead of sprays because they are compact and last longer.

Utensils Lol

My mom forced me to carry a pressure cooker and I cannot thank her enough for it. Make sure all your utensils can be used on an induction stove as well as the normal one. I use it the most here. You may find other utensils at your apartment abroad but you will most likely not find a pressure cooker. So take the whole set, cooker, gasket, whistle. I also took a frying pan, saucepan, plate, spoon, fork, tumbler. But you can skip it because all furnished houses have these. If you do carry them, make sure the cutlery is stainless steel or silverware because they may break enroute. A lunch box could also be helpful to store excess food in the first few days.

Spices/ Masala

I’d suggest taking a small box each of all the spices you’d use. Enough to last a month at least. You will find an Indian store once you’re there and can survive on that later on. Avoid carrying any perishables, you won’t be craving for them anytime soon.

Large items

The only large item I can remember carrying is a thick bedsheet, pillow case and thin blanket. I used the thick bedsheet and blanket as extra layers to cover up because I wasn’t used to the cold and the heaters were not yet being used. So maybe you could do the same. Avoid things like hangers, storage boxes etc. You can take a bunch of zip lock bags instead to segregate things.

Electronics

Make sure you carry at least 2 universal adapters and a power strip. The power strip will allow you to use multiple Indian electronic items with just one adapter. Apart from this, you’ll probably need shaving kits/ blow dryer/ straightener etc. I brought the latter two and use them all the time. But check with your airlines if they permit carrying them. I managed to even bring a pepper spray (I know it’s not an electronic device) which I was so sure they’d throw out during the scan.

Medicines

If you have medicines that you need to take everyday, ensure you have a good stock of it. I don’t, so I just had a couple of strong painkillers, some milder ones, pain relief balm, odomos, paracetamol, something for an upset stomach (I have a food allergy and I still haven’t figured if it’s gluten or milk or both 🤷🏼‍♀️), pills to postpone my period, Birth control (they are expensive af here), vitamins, lots of band aids, dettol, some cotton, gauze etc.

Cosmetics and accessories (for girls)

I kept this to minimal because I knew I didn’t want to carry them back everytime I visited India. There were 4-5 make up brushes, 1 nail cutter, 1 nail file, 1 pair of tweezers, Q tips, 1 pallette of eye shadow, 2 lipsticks, 2 sticks of kajal, 1 eye liner, 2 nail colours, some Indian jewellery (you can carry some new ones to give away as presents to over-excited bollywood fans on birthdays 😂), 1 set of basic western accessories in gold colour and 1 set in silver colour, some BB cream and a handful of lip balms distributed in all bags.

Stationery

I went overboard here obviously but you can cut it down. 1 notebook, some coloured pens, 1 marker, some basic pens and pencils, eraser and sharpener, scotch tape dispenser, 1 good pair of scissors and 1 box cutter should be enough. I had carried ribbons, double tape, sketch pens, eraser pens, fine liners, 3 books, all kinds of scales etc 😂 Please Don’t Do That!

All items apart from the clothing fell under the remaining half of the main luggage. Laptop, chargers, mouse and adapter would go in the backpack for easy access if you have layovers. Handbag can have two sets of emergency clothes (incase the airlines misplaces your bags), a snack and a bottle of water.

It would be best to pack your luggage in a way in which you’re mobile while handling all your bags at once. My big suitcases were the 4 wheeler trolley kind, one pulled by each hand. The handbag would go on the trolley handle and the back pack would go on my shoulder. It was so much easier to move with all that stuff this way from the airport to my room, considering I was on my own.

PS wear a jacket with lots of pockets on the day of your flight. The pockets can hold the phone, passport, tickets, other important documents etc.

You’ll be good to go. Good luck!

If you found this helpful, don’t forget to tell me. 💁🏻‍♀️

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