You’ve applied and been accepted to a program, figured out your housing, bought your plane ticket, and done a little happy dance. Now, it’s officially time to pack for your study abroad experience.
This part of the planning process was the most stressful for me. I studied abroad for a spring semester in Barcelona, Spain. Mediterranean weather is mild, with cool and warm temperatures from January to April. I was completely stumped on how to pack for so much variety in the weather.
Looking back, I would have saved myself a lot of worrying if I had known more of what to expect. I don’t want that for you! So, without further ado, here is my packing list for a semester abroad:
Disclaimer: This packing list contains affiliate links. If you purchase any of these items from the links below, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only recommend items I have bought and loved!
Checked bag: Jenni Chan damask 25″ suitcase with four 360° wheels
Carry-on: Nicole Miller 20″ hardshell suitcase with four 360° wheels
Personal item: Tek Gear small backpack (no longer sold)
Intimates (bras + panties)
1 pair of black tights
2 camis, one navy and one lilac
5 light sweaters
2 long cardigans
3 pairs of jeggings (medium wash, dark wash, and black)
2 pairs of leggings
1 pair of yoga pants
1 pair of crochet pants
Nike running shoes
Travel size shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, and body wash
Perfume — I still smell the scents of my lotion and perfume I packed for study abroad and am transported back to Barcelona!
Contacts and solution
Neutrogena makeup remover wipes
Pads and tampons
Allergy medicine (generic Benadryl)
Menstrual cramp medicine (generic Midol)
iPhone 6s + charger
Macbook Pro + charger
Ceptics all-in-one travel adapter — I. love. this. adapter. I used it my entire semester abroad, and continue to use it years later. It has adapters for every region of the world, all compactly contained into one lightweight design. See the photo below!
Camera — I promise you will want a camera when you go abroad that’s separate from your phone. Before my semester in Barcelona, I didn’t have any experience with photography. I needed something compact, portable, and beginner-friendly. This Sony with a flip-up screen was a great starter camera!
Copy of passport signature page
American cash, debit, and credit cards
Euros I exchanged in my home airport
Travel journal — I still go back and read my journal entries from those few months in Spain. It always brings a smile to my face. Such sweet memories!
Planner — I swore by Lilly Pulitzer all through college!
Packing Cubes — These are a game changer for packing. They are so helpful for categorizing all your belongings and I swear they create more space in my bag just from organizing everything.
Backpack — I took the same Vera Bradley laptop backpack abroad that I always used on-campus.
Small crossbody purse — If you’re wanting a purse for study abroad or travel, do yourself a favor and get a crossbody! They are much more difficult for pickpockets to steal from, especially if you get one with a zipper.
Quick-dry travel towel — I definitely recommend one of these for staying the night in hostels or Airbnbs that don’t include towels. I still use mine years later for all kinds of travel, especially camping! It is so nice to have a towel that dries literally within minutes. This one I bought from Amazon before my semester abroad is only $8!
What To Leave at Home
I brought so many clothes that I didn’t end up wearing. A good rule of thumb is this: if you never wear it at home, then you won’t wear it while abroad. There are at least 3 or 4 pieces of clothing that I can think of off the top of my head that I didn’t even touch the whole time I was in Barcelona.
Also, chances are you’ll have access to toiletries you would normally use in America with the exception of solid deodorant and makeup remover wipes. I’m glad that I didn’t lug those big shampoo and conditioner bottles all the way to Spain, because there was a comparable brand for a good price at a popular chain store.
What Not to Forget
If you are picky at all about the specific brands you use for some toiletries, over-the-counter medicines, etc., then make sure you bring them. I always use Neutrogena brand makeup remover wipes because they are the only kind that don’t irritate my eyes.
I didn’t bring enough for the whole semester, and had to use a different type that weren’t comfortable because Neutrogena wasn’t available. It’s not a huge deal, but I could have avoided all of that had I brought enough to ensure I covered the whole four months.
You are about to have the time of your life. Way back when my blog was still called “Sarah the Chosen,” I wrote about my adventures while I was abroad in Barcelona.
Now that you’ve learned from my packing experience, stop stressing, relax, and think about all the amazing things you’ll get to do and see (like the photo above from Tibidabo). If you have any questions about my semester abroad, please, please reach out. I want you to have the best experience ever. Bon voyage!
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