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Ashwin Sriram

Ashwin Sriram, a content editor for Hotcourses India- an IDP company, has been a part of the journalism circuit for nearly five years. He is a fan of the conversational writing style and loves exploring good human-interest stories from around the world. In his free time, he is often found travelling, reading, writing or meditating.


19 Aug 2015 115.6K Book icon 4 mins Share

What to pack when going abroad

Not sure what to pack for your trip overseas? This informative article can help you compile a list of things that you need to carry while travelling abroad.

19 Aug 2015 115.6K Book icon 4 mins Share
Ashwin Sriram

Ashwin Sriram, a content editor for Hotcourses India- an IDP company, has been a part of the journalism circuit for nearly five years. He is a fan of the conversational writing style and loves exploring good human-interest stories from around the world. In his free time, he is often found travelling, reading, writing or meditating.


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What to pack when going abroad

Now that your admission has been confirmed; you are all set for the big day when you will leave your family and friends and begin an exciting new phase of your life! I bet you are eager to get on that plane and start your days as a student living abroad. But wait, there is just a small matter of sorting out what to pack. You are not quite sure about how many shoes to take with you, or if that quilt will fit in your bag. You are also concerned about your luggage exceeding the weight limit set by the airline. Well, there is no need to worry; we are here to help you decide on what to pack and what not to.

Focus on the Essentials

Make a checklist of all the important documents and papers you are expected to carry. Keep your passport, visa, plane ticket, address list, phone numbers, prescription papers (if any) and accommodation details ready. These are things you need easy access to during your departure and arrival, so pack them in your hand luggage.

If you are planning to carry a lot of money, then consider getting yourself a handy travel pouch for added safety. Some of them come with a strap that can be attached to your waist; you can purchase one online at Flipkart or Jabong.

Keep it Light

Most of us end up over-packing clothes because we fear we’ll run out of something; so by listing out what you really need, the sorting out part becomes easier. Segregate your clothes according to their different purposes — separate the inner wear from the outer, and casuals from the formals. Keep your socks, ties, shawls, towels, jackets, swimwear and winter wear separately. Take into account just how many you need under each segment and pack accordingly.

Next, start arranging all the clothes you’ve chosen in your bag and see how much space they occupy. If they are taking up too much space, then lose some of the optional garments. Ideally, you want to make sure that you are travelling as light as possible.


  • To save some luggage space, you could wear one of your heavier jackets on the day you are boarding your plane.
  • Don’t forget to pack adequate winter wear if the destination you are landing in is cold. You may even need it as soon as you land there.
  • Compartmentalise the items based on the urgency of your needs; this would make it easier for you to unpack once you land there. This comes in handy if you are trying to extract only a few items from your luggage. An example: If you need to take out only your towel once you reach your accommodation, you don’t have to unpack everything right away to get it.
  • Consider packing a set of clothes in your hand luggage in case you have to stay at a hotel or some other form of temporary accommodation, once you land there.
  • Press your clothes with an iron box so it becomes easier to fold or pack them.
  • Buy a bag that is lightweight and durable so it doesn’t eat into your overall baggage weight. Oftentimes, a suitcase is heavier than a trolley.
  • Pack less formal wear because you are likely to use them sparingly. You could pack maybe two full sleeve shirts, a blazer, a tie and two trousers. You are only going to use them on formal gatherings like the placement day, graduation day and cultural events. You will be wearing your casuals and semi-formals more often.
  • Leave out anything you feel is not a necessity. We can't stress this enough. You can always buy those goods in the country you are moving to. That extra pair of shoes and additional toiletries can always be purchased once you settle into your new place.
  • Carry fragile and expensive items like your laptop and camera in your hand luggage, so they aren’t damaged by any reckless handling of your flight baggage, by the airport staff.
  • Kitchen appliances like an electric rice cooker, induction stove and vessels take up a lot of space and weight; so even if you are the type that cooks, it is better to avoid taking these with you. You could either purchase them abroad or get yourself a place furnished with kitchen appliances.

Electronic Items

One important accessory to carry is a universal power adapter for your electronic devices to function without issues; so get yourself one from online stores like Flipkart.

Apart from your laptop and camera, you will have to find some space to pack in your chargers (both for the phone and camera), an MP3 player (optional) and electric shaver. If you don’t already own any of these gadgets, then consider buying them in the country you are travelling to. That should save you some much-needed space in your luggage.

Optional Items

There are some goods that fall between the must-carry and must-not list. Take a call on items like books, stationery, DVDs and recreational products (like a gaming console) based on the space you have left, after packing in the rest.

A lot of toiletries and items like lotions, creams and make-up can be decided upon based on your urgency of needs. You’ll definitely need shoes and slippers, but you can limit the number of pairs you carry based on your requirements and space left in the baggage.

Leave behind anything you feel is in excess to your immediate needs. You can always purchase the same abroad.

What to Avoid:

  • Avoid packing jewellery in your luggage; wear them on you if you feel the need to take some.
  • Leave behind sharp objects like knives, scissors and blades. These items are banned on most flights.
  • Don’t pack any food or other perishable goods; it could get messy if they leak in your luggage.
  • Don’t carry deodorants, extra bars of soap, shampoos and other toiletries. You could purchase them all abroad.
  • Items like quilts, blankets, pillow covers and bedspreads can be avoided. It is likely that your accommodation will provide you with all of these, but if you feel compelled to carry one among these, then make it a light bedspread.

Useful Links

Below you’ll find a country-specific list of items prohibited on flights.

  • The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is the government agency responsible for airport security in the US. Their site details a list of items you are not allowed to carry when travelling to the US.
  • Here’s a list of items you are not allowed to carry on-board a flight to Britain.
  • Make sure you aren’t packing any of these items when you are boarding a flight to Canada.
  • Avoid these goods when you are packing for a trip to Singapore.

Bon Voyage

Make a list of the items you are carrying and keep that piece of paper with you in your hand-luggage. In the unfortunate event that the airline loses your luggage upon arrival, you may need to list out the stuff you’ve packed and its total value to receive compensation. 

The ideal packing solution: Don’t carry more than two bags and one hand-luggage. Carry only the essentials and have bags that don’t weigh much and are easy to carry. 

These are a few of our suggestions to help you pack for your trip abroad. We hope you have found these tips useful. 

Looking to study abroad?

Sabbi Jain Sabbi Jain,
IDP Expert
We can help you decide on what to pack for your trip abroad