It’s hard to know what to bring on a long trip like study abroad. Sometimes, the things you swear will be useful end up untouched; the most wanted items often get left behind. Here are the things I wish I’d known to bring along my first time – just in time for your Christmas list, so you don’t have to spend a dime!
– A high quality portable charger. I’m talking one of the 4x charge Mophie from the Apple store. You’ll be taking a lot of pictures – especially when you travel. That means your phone dies very quickly.
– On that note, bring an external hard drive or something to store pictures. You’ll likely take more than you can count and you don’t want to need to delete any when your phone runs out of space.
– If you like music, bring good headphones or a Bluetooth speaker. You’ll want to jam out during pre-games and it’s hard to do that at full volume on a laptop.
– Multiple European converters or a plug into which you can put a lot of chargers at once. It isn’t fun to charge your computer, phone and camera battery one by one when you need them simultaneously.
– Extra mascara. Yes, there are plenty of make up stores in Florence. Yes, there are even stores that sell American brands. But I use Covergirl and my specific kind isn’t carried in stores in Florence. If you’re particular about your make up, it’s probably a good idea to bring extras.
– It’s great to have a nice DSLR camera when you travel. Your pictures turn out well, you can take a ton quickly without using all your phone storage and they’re high quality. But these are expensive and plenty of people already have one. Don’t necessarily buy one, but if you already have one – BRING. IT. Throw in some extra memory cards too.
– A hand towel can be nice to have in your bathroom and is something you’re probably used to having around in America. If you don’t have room for one, you can get a cheap one at Conad, the grocery store.
– If you regularly take any medicines (allergy, birth control, etc.), I’m sure you’ve already thought about bringing enough to last during study abroad. But what about things like ZzzQuil? Benadryl? Ibuprofen? It can really help to throw some of these into your luggage.
– You’ll likely bring a backpack for classes, but bring a reusable tote too. You can throw your dirty laundry in it, use it to carry groceries home (avoid paying for plastic bags each time!), etc. It’s ridiculously useful to bring a reusable bag and it folds into basically nothing, so it won’t take up your whole suitcase!
– Whatever your hobby might be, bring it. If you like drawing, bring a sketchbook and your pens/pencils. If you like painting, throw in your watercolors, a brush and some paper. You WILL have down time and the city is incredibly inspiring. Sometimes, you’ll want to capture it in more than just pictures.
– Make sure to order Euros from your bank at least two weeks in advance. A lot of bigger banks keep foreign currency on hand, but not all of them will have enough! I like to bring 500€ in cash with me to pay for things like my cab from the airport, snacks or my first round of groceries. You’ll have ATM fees and likely foreign transaction fees, but you can avoid at least one round of these by bringing some cash with you. Plus, when you’re jet-lagged, do you really want to have to worry about finding an ATM?