What to leave and what to take - a luggage guide for overseas students
Many of us are guilty of over-packing when we go on holiday so if you’re a student planning to study overseas, or even within the same country, for an extended period of time, there’s a danger you’ll go a step further and pack everything but the kitchen sink. Extended stays in faraway places mean that you’re even more likely to pack a large amount of non-essential items as there will be a whole host of home comforts you’ll want at hand, but have you considered the limits and fees of airlines? Or if moving from one end of the country to the other, do your parents have a large enough car to take you and your belongings to your new home? Many haven’t, and those that don’t plan ahead and try to squeeze everything from a bulky games console and TV to a mini fridge and their entire wardrobe into their suitcase, will have hefty luggage fees to pay when they get to the airport or a very grumpy mum and dad.
Our advice is to plan ahead and find the most cost-effective way to send your luggage to your destination. Unaccompanied baggage couriers reduce the stress of travelling because they send luggage directly to your destination, which means that you don’t have to worry about an over-loaded vehicle or potential fines at the airport.
If you’re heading for the airport to start an exciting term or year studying abroad, but are intent on keeping your luggage to a minimum, what should you pack? Two suitcases should be your limit and we’ve got some essential tips to help you decide what to leave and what to take.
The bare minimum you need to get through life as an overseas student is clothing, a few toiletries, medication, personal documentation and money. Informal, every day clothes and a couple of formal outfits for special occasions will suffice, but make sure you check the season and weather conditions at your destination so that you pack the right clothes. Don’t pack too much either, even if you’ve never been near a washing machine before, you’ll soon get to know one. Take only essential toiletries (more items can be bought later) and enough prescription medication, and don’t forget to bring photocopies of personal documentation in case you lose the originals. Scanned documents can also be uploaded to websites such as Evernote or DropBox and can be accessed securely anywhere in the world.
Being a student is a sociable experience for most, so you don’t need all of your home comforts, you’ll be too busy experiencing a new life with new friends. A pack of playing cards is just as useful as the latest games console to keep you and your friends entertained. With MP3 players now affordable and readily available, you can fit your entire music collection in your pocket. With that in mind, don’t take bulky CDs and stereo systems; a pocket-sized MP3 player and micro speakers will do the job perfectly. Even better is a smartphone or tablet. Not only can you store your music collection but you can download games, TV streaming apps, movies, books, photos and more.
Many useful items such as torches, alarm clocks, cameras, video recorders and travel books can be downloaded as mobile/tablet apps, so before packing anything potentially bulky, check first. If you are going to be heavily reliant on your tablet and smartphone, make sure you pack an extra charger as well as the correct power socket adapter for your destination. A sleeping bag is also extremely useful and mircrofibre towels take up far less room in a suitcase and are more absorbent and quick drying. Be aware that some products are not available in certain countries due to cultural boundaries. Be sure to do some research before you travel as there are a number of restrictions on items such as toiletries and religious products.
Make sure you check with the college or university to find out if there are any course-specific items you’ll need to take. If, for example, you’re a geology student, there will be a lot of outdoor field trips where bulky items such as walking boots, waterproofs and a hard hat will be a necessity, and that’s on top of the books you may require. If you’re planning on buying course-specific items when you arrive, don’t forget that you’ll have to bring them home with you one day and the books alone can considerably weigh down your bags.
Adam Ewart is the founder of Send My Bag, a shipping company that offers student removals to, from and within the UK at an affordable cost. For more information on shipping to Australia, Asia, America or a whole host of European destinations, check out Send My Bag.