Photo by Vlada Karpovich:

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The moment has arrived; your teenager is going to college abroad. With all the planning and preparation to ensure that your child is ready for college abroad, how to pack for college abroad should be at the top of your list.

With airlines getting stingier and stingier with their baggage allowances, knowing how to pack for college abroad is no easy feat.

While you want to ensure that your child has all the essentials they need for a successful trip, you also have to consider the baggage limits set by the airline so that their baggage is not overweight.

Don’t worry, here is your guide to the 8 essentials to pack for college abroad.

But before we get into that, here are some pro tips for packing up your teenager for study abroad.

Packing your teenager for college abroad is truly a balancing act. Check out these Pro Tips for packing for college abroad. 

Pro tip 1: Ensure to check the airline baggage allowance to know what you’re working with before you start packing for college.

Pro tip 2: Use packing techniques that will allow maximising space. I find that laying my clothes flat instead of folding them has always worked well for me.

Pro tip 3: Although your child is going off to college in the fall, if they are going to a cold country, you will surely be thinking about packing for winter. Don’t make the mistake of packing a lot of bulky winter attire. They are heavy and will take up space. It’s better to pack light to medium wear.

Staying warm in winter is all about layering and having a warm winter coat. Once those basics are covered, your child will be alright. It’s better to pack light to medium wear clothes to maximise space and take your child through the school year without the need to buy extra clothes.

How to Pack for College Abroad

Photo by Vlada Karpovich:

1. Pack Clothing for All Season

Outerwear: Fall jacket/Winter jacket

As I mentioned above, the key to staying warm in winter is a warm winter coat. Winter coats are very bulky, but they cannot be left at home. Once your child has this basic winter essential, you should ensure the rest of the clothing items you’re packing are light to medium weight and are great for layering.

You may consider packing a light jacket that he will be using in autumn and can be used again in the spring.

Pro tip: Pack clothes that can be worn for all seasons. It’s also important to pack clothes that are appropriate for class and can be worn for other events.

2. Pack Footwear for College Abroad

Again, like above, you want to be strategic with your packing. Help your child pack shoes that can transition from fall to winter. Pack a good, warm, and sturdy pair of winter boots that will take her through the winter months.

Pro tip: Check the average winter temperatures and snowfall in your child’s new host country; this will help her to pack for the winter months.

If your child is going to college abroad in a warm country, ensure to pack durable and comfortable shoes that can last a long time.

Flip-flops are essential! Yes, they are great for summer but are even better for wearing around the dorm.

Let’s face it, your children will not be at home anymore with your clean floors. Dorms and co-share apartments can get messy. He will need flip-flops to be worn in his dorm room.

Also important, flip-flops will be very necessary for those shared showers!

3. How to Pack for College: Bedding

Another packing for college abroad essential is bedding. It’s likely your child’s dorm room will have a single bed, and it is not normal for accommodations to provide bedding. If they do, they will charge extra for it.

Save on spending on extra expenses by packing a sheet set that includes a fitted sheet, flat sheet and pillowcase.

If your child is going to college abroad during the winter, you can purchase a duvet and send it to her as soon as she arrives and is settled in.

4. Pack A Towel for College Abroad

It’s always important to throw in a body towel when packing for college. To start, your teenager may just need one body towel to begin.

Remember that he has limited space and a weight limit for his baggage. However, you want to make sure that he will have all the essentials he needs to be set up for the school year.

5. How to Pack for College Abroad: Hygiene Products

Packing for college abroad is easier now than before with the travel sizes of many personal hygiene products. These are great because they have everything your child will need for her first few weeks of college. They also can fit perfectly in her suitcase or her carry-on.

Pro tip: If your child plans to pack the travel-size toiletries in her carry-on, make sure to check the airline rules for allowances for these items. You also want to check the size and measurements of each product in the pack.

6. Essential Electronics for College Abroad


When packing your child for college, it’s important to consider the electronic support he will need for a successful academic year.

While some children may have their laptops, others don’t. If your child does not yet have his laptop, he will need one as he makes his way to college.

It’s important to get a reliable and light laptop for him as he embarks on his college journey.

Pro tip: When choosing a laptop for your child, make sure that you read the specifications carefully and that they cover all of your child’s needs.

International Adapter

Going abroad for college has its pros and cons. One of the biggest cons is that your child’s electronics are likely to not work with the host country’s electric system.

To ensure that your teenager doesn’t run into any problems in her host country with using her electronics and charging her phone, you need to pack an international adapter.

International adapters are a traveller’s best friend. They convert the electric voltage so that your electronics don’t get damaged, and they have multiple outlet plugs for most regions.

Dual Sim Mobile Phone

I cannot stress enough how practical having a dual sim phone is. A dual sim card phone has space for two sim cards and two lines on your mobile phone.

These are practical for international travels as having a dual sim phone allows you to transition seamlessly through countries.

You can have your sim card from your home country and add a new sim card from your host country as soon as you arrive. There is no need to swap out a sim card and risk losing your home country sim card.

Also important is to ensure that your child’s dual sim phone is unlocked before he travels. This is important because if the mobile phone is locked to a network, he will not be able to use it abroad with another sim.

If he doesn’t have an unlocked phone, will have to get a new phone (typically on a plan) or buy one which can be expensive.

Although you can find phone unlock stores in many foreign cities, the last thing you want is for your child to be looking for these when he arrives and is orienting himself with his new environment and getting organised in his new school life.

7. Packing Essential: Stationery

No list for packing for college would be complete without the stationery and school supplies your teenager will need for college.

These essentials include:

a. Notebooks

b. Pens

c. Pencils

d. Eraser

e. Highlighter

g. Stapler

h. Paper clips

8. Essential Backpack for College Abroad

Finally, a good backpack is something that your child will need for university. It’s also practical for his initial travel abroad because you can pack other things in it. More importantly, it’s will be part of his everyday life at college.

So, this is your essential guide to packing for college abroad. Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments.

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