Cultural Experience | Europe

Essential Packing List for Europe on Study Abroad

Need Motivation to Start Packing? Look No Further!

We all know it is an unavoidable habit to pack at the last minute, especially for a big trip like studying abroad for a semester in Europe. It is overwhelming to know that you will be gone for such an extended period of time in a place that has entirely different seasons and fashions than you are used to in your home country. Because of this, and the anxiety of having a suitcase that weighs too much to board the plane with, we all “forget” to pack until the day before. Well, push that anxiety aside because after studying abroad for a semester in Italy, I have all the answers for you!



 When it comes to clothing, anywhere in Europe is likely to be better dressed than where you are coming from. This is important to keep in mind because you will feel out of place when wearing your sweatshirt and sweatpants with your school logo on it. It is also a good idea to not only avoid that, but any other brand names like North Face that will instantly identify you as an American. If you want to blend in, go for neutral colors and no big brand names. With that in mind, here are some essential clothing items that you should pack:

Leggings and tights (this will be your substitute for sweatpants in public). Leggings will feel comfortable on your lazy days, but can still put together a polished look. They are also good for layering when it starts to get colder outside, so bring more than one pair! Slip in a pair of those college sweatpants to sleep in.

Jeans. You will not need any more than 2 pairs of jeans. They take up a lot of room in your suitcase and it will be a waste of your precious space if you pack all of the jeans in your closet.

Sweaters. 3 comfortable, thicker sweaters will be perfect for when it is still warm outside and you do not need a coat or for when it gets cold and you need an extra layer under your jacket.

Plain tops. Bring about 8 plain tops. The style can be long sleeve, short sleeve or a tank. Plain clothing was always useful for me because it can be used for layering and will go with many outfit options.

Tunics. I recommend bringing 2 tunics since they are very cute with leggings and are a popular look in Europe.

Dresses. Bring 2 dresses in case you have that fancy occasion or a sundress moment. It does not hurt to throw in a couple of dresses since they do not take up much space!

Cardigan. You probably just need to bring along 1 cardigan to go over a dress or a tank top on a chilly evening.

Underwear and bras. This depends on what your laundry situation is, but for example, I had a washer in the apartment I was staying at, but we had to be conservative with water so I brought around 14 pairs of underwear so that I could go two weeks without doing laundry. Also, pack 1 bathing suit in case you end up going on a trip where you can tan and swim!

Socks. Bring a lot of socks! I would bring over 10 pairs of socks for layering in the cold weather or for changing into a new pair in case they get wet in the rain.

– Jackets. Bring 1 light jacket, 1 heavy jacket, 1 rain jacket and 1 sweatshirt. The temperatures in Europe can be all over the place, so jackets are a must! They will take up the most room in your suitcase but it will be worth it.

Accessories. Scarves are never a bad idea because they are so popular in Europe, but it is likely that you will purchase a lot of them abroad as souvenirs so keep that in mind. I would not bring any of your important jewelry in case it gets mishandled in the airport or lost throughout your travels. Bring a set of jewelry and a watch that you don’t mind losing. I would also bring along a satchel for a purse because it allows you to have free hands when traveling. You will need an umbrella, hats and gloves, but it is up to you whether you want to pack that ahead of time or wait to purchase it in your study abroad country.


Because Europe and other places abroad have a different kind of terrain like cobblestone, I suggest packing shoes you can trust! Here is a guide for what shoes to pack:

1 pair of sneakers

1 comfortable pair of walking shoes with thick soles

1 or 2 pairs of flat boots

1 pair of dressy shoes (wedges are much safer than stilettos)

2 or 3 pairs of flats

1 pair of shower flip flops

The only other type of shoe you may need is a pair of rain boots, but since those are hard to pack, I recommend buying a cheap pair at your destination depending on how much rain you are experiencing.


You will be able to purchase toiletries once you get to your destination so do not worry too much about loading up on shampoo and Q-tips. If there is anything special that you use and cannot live without I would bring that item, but otherwise you should be able to get everything you need abroad.

Bring all of your prescriptions (such as medicine and contact lenses) and make sure they will last you the entire stay. It is much easier to work out a deal with your doctor before- hand rather than having to figure out how to get access to your prescriptions in a foreign country because they may not be allowed to provide you with such things.

Side note: If you are going to a place that speaks another language other than your own, bring a dictionary when going to purchase your toiletries. If you don’t, there is a good chance that you will not know whether you are purchasing the shampoo/ conditioner for flat or voluminous hair!


– Adapters. Bring 2 to 3 adapters or converters because the outlets will be different than the plug that you own. Make sure to do some research before- hand to figure out what kind of adapter or converter you need for your devices. Whether it is for your phone, camera or hair straightner, there is a good chance you will need to have one.

– Cell phone. It is best to not use your current cell phone and to purchase a cheap one once you get to the new country. This will avoid all of those heavy phone bills you would get from making calls with your original phone. With your new phone, you can call your friends in the same country as you very inexpensively and then use the Internet for communication back home.

School Supplies:

When it comes to school supplies, I would wait until you get to your destination to purchase your necessities for school. This is because it will take up a lot of space and weight in your suitcase when they have everything you need once you get there and, not to mention, the paper size is usually different. Therefore, the paper that you bring from home may not fit in their folders and vice versa.

This list should be a great guideline to get you to start brainstorming and become motivated to pack! It is not as bad as you think because if you do end up forgetting something, there is a good chance the country you will be in can help you out. One more word of advice would be to leave some extra room in your suitcase or carry-on because it is likely that you will be coming home with more things than you are leaving with. Also, if you are a peanut butter fanatic- bring some with you because in Europe, nutella is the new peanut butter.

Caitlin McConnell

Marist College | 12 stories

Caitlin is a senior at Marist College studying public relations and fashion merchandising. She enjoys being active, shopping and spending time with friends and family. She is also a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. She has gained valuable experiences through interning at companies such as Seventeen Magazine in New York City and traveling abroad to Florence, Italy for a semester. She fell in love with Europe and dreams of traveling to new places to further explore cultures, languages and traditions!

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