Thursday, 10 August 2017

How To Pack For Your Year Abroad

I cannot believe that it's already August. This time last year I would have just found out that I was going to Nuremberg and that I'd be teaching in primary schools. I wrote this post back in June and this post about how I was preparing for it. Both of which are totally out of format with my new blog layout and name, but I'm keeping them up, because they authentically show exactly how I was feeling and what I was thinking. However a year later, some of those things worked for me and some didn't, but I wanted to talk a bit today about one of the biggest challenges I personally faced when planning my year abroad. Packing. I am such a hoarder, with a wardrobe bigger than any human realistically needs. How on earth did I condense that down to fit into one large blue suitcase to take away to live for nine months?!?


To be honest, I'm never that fussed about what suitcase I use and when. As long as it does the job I'm happy. However at the start of my year abroad I decided to invest in new suitcases and I am so glad I did! Considering I was back and forth between the UK and Germany a few times, and travelled around Europe I think I've got my money's worth. Sturdy over fashionable though, doesn't matter how pretty your suitcase is, if it bursts at the airport then you won't be happy. I also quite like suitcases that aren't expandable. Bit random, I know, but if I know my suitcase is expandable I am soooo much more tempted to fill it with more things if I am away, which can leave me struggling with the weight limit on my flight. At least if it's a normal zip, once it's full it's full and you don't need to worry about being over the weight limit and racking up extra charges. 


I mean, this is probably what the bulk of your packing is going to consist of. I found it pretty difficult to decide what clothes I was going to need and what not. As a language assistant, I didn't have a uniform and most teachers in Germany dressed pretty casually. This was handy as it meant the clothes I would wear to work were exactly the same clothes I would wear on the weekends so I didn't have to pack anything extra. I brought one smart dress with me just in case and I only wore it once the whole year. I did however find myself buying a lot of clothes while I was away. To save space I didn't bring a Winter jacket, which meant when the temperature dropped so did my bank balance. By 100 euros as I had to invest in one that was actually going to keep me warm. It's easy to forget when you fly out in August/September that if you don't bring clothes for all seasons you will have to buy them. In some ways it's quite good as you can try and style yourself a little more like the locals and blend in a little more, but it is definitely something to keep in mind.


I was so lucky as before I went away my best friends gave me a picture album of some of our favourite memories together and I kept it with me on my bedside table and looked through it whenever I was feeling a little down. Photographs are an excellent way to create a more homely atmosphere, especially when you are so far away from home. It's also a nice way to show your new flatmates/colleagues/schoolkids a little more about you and your life back home. I've mentioned it before, but I use the freeprints app almost every month to print out my photographs. You get 45 free prints a month and then you just pay the few pounds postage and it's delivered to your door! I avoided bringing expensive jewellery as there really wasn't an occasion where I needed it and meant there was no chance of it going stray in a misplaced bag or suitcase. Also, definitely don't forget your teddy. #justsaying


Unless you have work to do for your university, there really isn't much point in bringing any literature in your target language, you are going to be surrounded by it for the next nine months. You can easily join the local library if you are interested, but I found the best way to practise my reading was to read the local newspaper! On a morning where I started school a little later I would sit with a coffee and read the paper. Not only do you practise your reading, you are learning more about your town/city and there's often a wide range of vocabulary in papers. 


To cut down on travel stress, I used SendmyBag to post two big suitcases back to the UK when I had finished to help me get my things back. It worked out so much cheaper than adding them on to my flight and there is no way I would have been able to navigate around the airport with them on my own. I simply chose my pickup time in Germany (there are fees if you miss this so if you aren't sure when you will be free it can be a little tricky) and it gave me the date it would arrive at my chosen destination in the UK. With a handy quick quote calculator you can find out instantly how much it is going to cost and I would definitely recommend considering them, both on your outward and return jouney! They even have an app to keep track of where your luggage is and my everything ran exactly on time for me. If you want £5 off your first order you can use this link and both you and I will earn 500 points! You can also use it to send items within the UK, perfect for moving back to uni too!


Your health insurance card. 

Travel adapters - I bought a pack of five from amazon and it saved my life!

A currency card - Sooo much easier than trying to exchange euros at the post office and you can use it like a debit card when you are there!

Any paperwork you have received - I printed out all official emails I was sent and brought them with me for reference.

Your favourite mug - everyone has a favourite mug and there's no point denying it. It will help make the continental tea taste a little better.

Or, if you're a total tea gal like me, I brought my own teabags. A bumper pack of Tetley 240 was well worth the space in my suitcase.

Packing for your year abroad is so exciting, it's the start of a massive chapter of your life, however I think the key thing is not to take too much. You'll want to buy all the exciting things you discover when you get there and you don't want to forget you have to take it all home at the end!!
If you have any tips for packing for your year abroad  please leave them in the comments for everyone!




  1. When I studied abroad I packed quite light to avoid having a hard time traveling with two heavy suitcases ! I would add all the pharmacy and skincare you can not find abroad !

    1. I would have never managed with more than one suitcase! That's such a good point, I had no idea what any of the medical words meant so I found it hard to find things I'd normally just buy in the supermarkets. x

  2. Wow what an amazing adventure! Best of luck on all of your travels and journey, lovely :)

    Alice // The Rose Glow

    1. I was so lucky to get the chance to do it, was amazing! x

  3. WOW THAT IS COMPLETELY AMAZING! I bet it was amazing taking in the sights and a the culture. What an opportunity!

    Chloe Lauren x

    1. Definitely something I would encourage everyone to do if they get the chance! x

  4. What an amazing opportunity!! I hope you love it xx

    1. I did thank you! Wish I could do it again! x


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