Year Abroad Adventures: Planning, Packing and Preparation
Kia Marie Hunt is a student of Hispanic Studies at University of Birmingham, and is spending her third year abroad at Universidad de Montevideo, Uruguay. To keep up with her adventures, check out her blog. This is her take on the three Ps: Planning, Packing and Preparation!
So, you’ve decided where you’re going and you’ve sorted everything out regarding study and work placements; you’re ready to let the countdown to your year abroad adventures begin!
So, here are a few tips that proved very useful in my personal experience…
1. Planning and Preparation
It’s likely that this year abroad will be the one of the biggest challenges you’ve ever faced, and perhaps you might be starting to worry that you will forget to plan or prepare for something very important. So, my first tip is to literally scour this website! It’s great and I would advise making the most of all of the valuable advice that is available. I found that the lists, such as It’s the Final Countdown and the Year Abroad Checklist in particular, really came in handy.
In terms of knowing what to take, I usually find it difficult to pack for a two week holiday, never mind for a whole year! This is why I found it quite frustrating when searching for “what to pack for your year abroad” only turned up results that were vague, such as articles that named a few key items and then claimed the rest was ‘common sense.’
Don't forget to pack some essentials to remind you of home, like tea bags!
When you know what it is you want to take with you, the next challenges are actually getting it all into your suitcase, and managing to not go over the weight limit for your flight. Below is the method I would recommended for preparing and packing a super orderly suitcase…
Note: I’m sure that packing in a much less regimented way has done a lot of people just fine, but if you, like me, enjoy that feeling of knowing everything is organised to perfection, then you’ll definitely appreciate packing this way and it might save you a lot of stress at the airport!
Things you will need:
Plastic carrier bags Space bags (I used some Roll bags and some Vacuum pack bags from Pack Mate Clever Storage) A portable scale (I used Silverline Portable Electronic Scale) A note of the luggage allowance for your flight Notepad and pen
1. First use the scale to weigh your suitcase while it’s empty, and write down the start weight.
2. Separate your stuff into little groups e.g. jumpers, jeans, etc.
3. Put each group of clothes/objects into a carrier bag, weigh them, and write a note of what that group weighs. (This way, you can see how much weight you are taking up without having to pack the case, weigh it, and then unpack it again, and you can take things out of groups as you go along if you see that some of them are looking a little heavy.)
When you have done this for all of your stuff and you know you will be within the weight limit, it’s time to fit it into the case.
4. This is where storage bags come in handy; it’s surprising just how much space you can save by using them. (You can use bags that you simply roll to compress, or others that come with valves and you use the nozzle of your vacuum cleaner to take the air out.)
My clothes pre-vacuuming...
5. You should then find it much easier to get everything into your case once it is packed into these space bags.
My clothes post-vacuuming...
6. When you’ve finished, weigh the case with contents, and if your calculations were good you should have a perfectly packed suitcase!
Please comment if you have any tips on packing for your year abroad. I hope you found this helpful!