If you’re thinking of doing the ICS study abroad program or you’ve already been accepted (congratulations!!) and wondering how to pack for this month-long, city-hopping trip. Don’t worry we got you covered. To save time and stress, we’ve compiled an ultimate guide on what to bring with you for this unique study abroad experience. You can use this as your check-list when packing.
Before we talk about what you need to bring with you, we need to figure out how you’re going to carry them. Since you’ll be hopping from one city to another, it’s best to take a wheeled trolley suitcase. Softshell suitcase fit in better in most places and are not easily damaged, compared to hard shell ones. However, since you will be checking in your baggage quite often be sure to lock your luggage with a padlock. It’s also a good idea to lock your bags when you are going outside your accommodation (just for extra safety purposes).
A good idea would be to carry a backpack as you can stuff a lot inside it and it’s also quite easy to carry around. It will also come handy when you’re doing a day tour of the city.
Since you will be taking three different airline flights, you need to be wary of their baggage policy when choosing the size and weight of the baggage. As a standard, you are allowed to check-in baggage weighing up to 50lbs (23 kgs).
Hence, sticking to a maximum of 44lbs would be good as you will want to leave some space for shopping when you’re heading back.
As much as this sounds like a trip around Europe, students should keep in mind it’s also an experience for professional development and there will be several networking and company visits happening during this trip. Hence, students must ensure to bring a balanced suitcase of casual and professional outfits to match the itinerary of this trip. Meanwhile, packing light is also recommended considering the baggage allowance limit. Hence mix and matching the clothes would be the way to go. Here’s a very brief idea on what type of clothing to pack:
Essentially, the students may carry 3-4 professional attires. This may include for men- 4 shirts, 1-2 trousers and a maximum of 2 ties. For women- 2 dresses, 1 pant, 2 shirts and a blazer (if needed).
In terms of casual wear for sight-seeing and going out purposes, make sure to carry few light t-shirts as it will get hot and humid and you will want to carry some spare t-shirts to change on the go. It’s also important to remember to carry a mix of summer/ semi-winter clothing as you’d be travelling to cities that have very unpredictable weather. Carrying a mix of full length 1-2 jeans and few skirts/shorts and t-shirts to mix and match with would be the smart way to deal with that. Along with that, do not forget to take a scarf (or 2) and a jacket/sweater that matches with most of your outfits as it may get chilly during the evenings in some cities.
Another point to keep in mind while packing is the cultural difference. Generally speaking, Europeans tend to dress more formally than Americans. Hence, it may be a good idea to leave basketball shorts, sweatpants and baseball caps behind.
Let’s talk shoes! This is a tough one as it takes a lot of luggage space, you need to be smart about what you take with you. Ensure to take one pair of professional shoes for men and either heels (this could also come handy for fancy dinners and nightlife) or a pair of flats for women. Considering its Europe, you also need to have a pair of comfy shoes on since you’ll be walking A LOT. Might be a good idea to wear your comfy pair of sneakers on the flight, so it won’t take up any extra luggage space. Don’t forget to also pack a few pairs of socks!!
For handbags (boys, you can sit this one out if you want), do not carry more than two bags in total. Of course, as mentioned earlier it’s good to carry a backpack but besides that, you can bring along tote bag if necessary for the professional meets and for your general day-to-day you’ll be good with a simple black cross body bag to carry on.
It’s vital to bear in mind of pickpocketing as you will be outdoors in busy areas of the city a lot and it’s important to take care of your belongings and have a grip of your handbag at all times.
Another must have is a pair of sunglasses. It will get sunny and you will need it more than you imagine. It might also be a good idea to bring along an umbrella and a raincoat, safer to stay dry than sorry.
I’m sure most of us have an endless amount of electronics that we probably want to take with us for this trip. However, considering the limited time and space in your luggage, let’s lay them out in order of importance.
Of course, you will be taking your smartphones. Ensure to also carry your laptop or your tablet-- make sure to back your data on an external hard drive. It’s also a good idea to download a few movies/tv shows on to your laptop/smartphone as you’d be doing a few long haul flights and you want to ensure you have your entertainment sorted. If you are a professional photographer, ensure to carry your DSLR and all the equipment necessary for those quality snaps.
Besides carrying your device chargers, ensure to also carry plug adapters and voltage plug converters as the pins and voltage in Europe are different from that in the states. Moreover, it might be a good idea to bring along a portable charger as you’ll be outdoors a lot and you do not want your charge to run out.
Other appliances such as hair dryers, straighteners, beard trimmers, wrinkle steamers are all other devices to bring along with you, if necessary (You may want to buy a travel version of high powered appliances i.e hair dryer, as the voltage often times is too strong for international outlets).
You do not want to forget your essential toiletries such as toothbrush, paste, face wash, shower gel, moisturizer, shampoo, hair serums, sunscreen, make-up and other skin and body care products you use. Pack enough for the first week and you can buy more, later. Ensure to also keep Kleenex toilet wipes handy, you never know when you’ll need it.
It’s a good idea to also bring a small foldable laundry bag, so it’s easy to separate your fresh and used clothes when you are on the go. Talking of separating, using packing cubes to pack and organize your suitcase might be a good idea as it gives you a lot of space to stuff things in your suitcase. Bringing your own wash towels would be a smart thing to do as you will be travelling a lot and you do not want to depend on what they provide at the accommodations you stay in.
Make sure to also take your medical prescription with you, if you have any. Even if not, it’s good to carry your own essential first aid kit. Carrying your own water bottle is a good idea, as you’ll be outdoors a lot you want to make sure you’re staying hydrated (do not be afraid to drink tap water around Europe- it’s totally safe)
As a summary, here’s the ultimate travel checklist for ICS 2019:
Suitcase (with TSA Compliant lock) & travel backpack
(2-3) Professional Outfits
(1) Jacket/ Sweater
(1-2) Shorts/ skirts
(1) professional shoes (MEN)
(1) pair of heels/flats (WOMEN)
(1) Crossbody bag
Jewelry and other accessories ( don’t bring any expensive jewelry)
Straighteners/ Curlers/ hairdryers
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Foldable laundry bag
Medicine/ first aid kit
Water bottle (preferably with filter)
A notebook & pen
Travel Documents- Printed tickets, Passport, Immigration Letter, Passport and visa photocopies, passport size photos (2), etc.
We hope we’ve given you a good idea on how to pack for this trip, we hope you’re looking forward to this trip as much as we are :)