If you’re like me, you find it hard to pack for a weekend away. The thought of packing for a full semester abroad is incredibly daunting; you can’t drive home to pick up that sweater, you can’t have your parents mail your favorite jeans and you don’t want to buy everything you forgot. So, maybe these tips from someone who has studied and lived abroad can help to know what to pack and what to leave.

  • Spend $10 at a store like Marshall’s to get a bag weigher. Have a friend come over the night before you leave to help move things between bags until everything is under the 50 pound limit.

  • Buy these (or something similar) on Amazon: space saving bags. They’ll help you compress your clothes to fit more, but you still have to watch the weight in your bag. (Don’t forget to take the pump with you so you can get everything back in to come home!)
  • Put anything small – but heavy – into your carry on to save weight in your checked bag.

  • Stock up on shirts.  No one notices if you wear the same couple pairs of pants a bunch if your shirt keeps changing.

  • With coats – same thing as pants.  People expect you to wear the same coat a lot, so don’t worry about bringing more than one.

  • Keep it light on shoes. Those take up a lot of space and weight in your bag.  There are plenty of stores in Florence where you can buy some cheap shoes that will last the semester and you won’t mind leaving them behind when it’s time to go back.

  • Buy bathroom stuff in Florence. There are plenty of stores that sell good shampoos/conditioners/lotions – don’t waste that weight in your bag.

  • Buy something like this: charging station. It’ll save you from bringing separate adapters for your phone/tablet/etc. and help charge everything simultaneously.
  • If you’re taking a second checked bag, pay for it online before the day of your flight. Airlines often charge more to check a second bag when you do it at the counter, so avoid the frustration and save money by doing it beforehand.

Hopefully the things I’ve learned from previous mistakes can help! Good luck packing and get excited for study abroad!