You’ve made your applications, bagged a place at the institution of your choice and started planning life when you get there. However, before the fun begins there’s the small matter of transporting all your worldly goods so that you have everything you need to stay organized and get the most out of the experience.
Simple, you say? You may be surprised… Packing slip-ups have the potential to be both costly and awkward- but don’t panic! We’ve pinpointed seven common packing problems that everyone- literally, everyone- makes. Below are seven common packing problems that it makes sense to avoid.
1. Exceeding the maximum weight limit
It's so easily done, particularly if you’re in a rush to finish packing or you’re just slightly overexcited, but overweight bags can be horrendously expensive on international flights. Give yourself enough time to pack properly, take a few minutes to work out what you’re actually likely to need – clothes, books, sports kit – and don’t be tempted to just throw everything at your case. Crucially, make sure you weigh the case before you leave the house so you know you’re not over the weight limit – a set of bathroom scales is a very simple way to do this.
2. Using space badly
Although there’s no need to fold everything with origami style neatness and pack in rigid lines, it is worth taking some care over your case when you’re packing. Remember that it’s going to be buffeted around and handled many times so pack to protect what’s inside. In particular, pack any liquids or toiletries inside a waterproof container or plastic bag in case of leaks, and cushion by packing softer items around the outside. Try rolling clothes, rather than folding, in order to lessen creases and create more room and don’t overfill your case and risk bursting.
3. Restricted items
Check out the list of restricted or prohibited items for the country that you’re travelling to and don’t pack any of these unless you want to spend your first few hours in the country with the local customs officials. Weapons, meat products, plants, alcohol and rare animal products can all be problematic and if you’re carrying large amounts of medication then make sure you have the documentation to justify it. Bear in mind also the restrictions on liquids – 100ml or less unless it’s medicine with supporting documents.
4. Packing ridiculously unecessary items
Unless you’re going to be studying on top of a mountain in a remote and uninhabited area, the likelihood is that you’ll be able to buy the basics wherever you are. If you’re trying to fit enough shampoo into your case for the entire term you’re wasting valuable space. Basic toiletries, books, music can all be purchased locally (or digital) and are not worth paying excess luggage fees for. If you have lots of items with sentimental value that you don’t want to take but can’t throw away then find some good, cheap storage instead or leave them in a relative’s attic for safe keeping.
5. Not thinking ahead
When you arrive at your destination you’re going to want to have a shower/sleep/check in/register without having to unpack every single case to do it. With this in mind, pack everything you’re likely to need in the first 24 hours into one box or case and then you can start to feel settled in almost straight away.
6. Being disorganised on the day
When it comes to the day of your flight make sure you know the necessary timings. When do you need to be at the airport? Can you check in online in advance and simply baggage drop at the airport? Whatever your estimate, add an extra half hour on to allow for hold ups. What you want to avoid is being so late for the plane that you make it but your cases don’t.
7. Believing that nothing could possibly go wrong
Airlines lose bags sometimes- it’s just the way it goes. If you’re arriving in a new country and everything you need to get settled is in your checked luggage you can almost guarantee it will take a couple of days to turn up. So, contingency pack with your hand luggage – take a change of clothes, toiletries within restrictions and essentials like adapters, chargers, papers and equipment you’ll need straight away.
So, all set? Make sure you've covered all of the above points then start packing smart- and good luck with your study abroad adventure!