What I’m Packing Series

The first posts from our Auckland Abroad Ambassadors are about to go live!

In this series the Ambassadors will demonstrate their expert packing skills as they prepare to go abroad.

This series will either make you laugh or cry about the inevitable dilemma of any exchange student i.e. trying to cram as many “essential” items for a semester or two into a bag that does not exceed the ridiculously low weight limit.

As a general guide we will provide a list below for University of Auckland students for studying abroad.

However, packing does not have to be a tearful experience – try and limit yourself to the real essentials and you will get more out of the exchange experience. Not having to worry about your things or make decisions about what to leave or bring gives you a clear head to tackle any situation.

o-packing-bag-facebookImage: Dougal Waters via Getty Images

So here’s our suggestions:

Essentials: the real stuff you shouldn’t leave home without

  • Passport (check that it is up to date)
  • Travel Insurance
  • Plane tickets
  • Prescriptions – bring enough for the length of the stay. If longer than three months, you will need to see a doctor abroad to re-prescribe. Speak with your doctor before you leave – prescriptions cannot be transferred.
  • Student ID (for discounted admissions)
  • Backpack
  • Glasses/contact lenses if required – bring extra as it can be hard to pick up a repeat prescription without another eye test
  • Vitamins if required – it can often be difficult to find or the selection and variety may be limited
  • Pens and notebooks – be prepared for the first day of class
  • Dictionary/Phrasebook – to learn a foreign language or just download the app.
  • USB stick/Portable Hard drive – to back up  assignments and keep copies of travel documents
  • Pillow case – useful if staying in hostels or for that first night in the dorm
  • Microfiber/Turkish towel – compact and good for traveling
  • Sheet sleeping sack– great for use in hostels and less bulky than a sleeping bag
  • Mini umbrella
  • Water bottle – save money by refilling
  • Books – bring one to read on the trip over
  • Sunglasses
  • Diary – to keep track of classes, travel plans and to write a journal or you could use the Calendar app and write a blog (share it with us if you do!)
  • Watch/Cellphone/iPod/iPad/time turner

Clothes – bring clothes that are easily layered for various climate conditions, do not need ironing, can be  machine washed and air dried, and are comfortable and durable. Check your country information specifically for special dress codes and weather.

  • Tops/Shirts (enough for a week)
  • Bottoms/Shorts/Skirts (again enough for a week but can be worn twice)
  • Jeans – very useful and able to be worn multiple times
  • Jumpers/Hoodies– something warm and cosy
  • Pajamas
  • Socks/underwear – enough to get by for two weeks without washing
  • Swimwear
  • Workout clothes
  • Light jacket – water resistant is preferable
  • Nice outfits – a couple of dresses or a few pairs of chinos and shirts that can mix and match are ideal.
  • Accessories – a few accessories always help to refresh your outfits- don’t overdo it
  • Scarves
  • Jandals– good for showering in hostels, one pair is enough
  • Walking shoes – find a comfy and fashionable shoe – walking is a major part of everyday life
  • Running shoes – good to have if you join a gym or enjoy running outdoors
  • Nicer shoes – one pair
  • Handbags– no more than two.

Toiletries –Do not bring hair straighter/blow dryer they use a lot of power and can fry circuits. Most basic toiletries can be acquired when you reach your destination. Pack all toiletries in a snap lock bag to avoid leakage.

  • Hair brush/comb
  • Toothbrush/ Toothpaste (carryon)
  • Bar of soap
  • Deodorant (carryon)
  • Razor
  • Pocket tissues (carryon)
  • Contact lenses solution
  • Sunblock
  • Makeup (carryon)
  • Makeup wipes (carryon)


  • Cash – for the trip from home to your destination, keep in safe place
  • Credit cards – notify bank/credit card companies that you are going abroad, not all credit cards will work in train stations/stores abroad. Consider using a card with a special chip imbedded or bringing a Travel Money Card
  • Travel Money Card – can be obtained through major banks and loaded with local currency.


  • Carry-on luggage – Check your airline – usually you are allowed one carry-on size bag as well as a personal item, such as a laptop bag, purse, etc.
  • Some airlines charge for a second checked bag.
  • Pack a few outfits in the carryon in case your luggage arrives after you do.
  • Go for sturdy neutral luggage which will last for your entire trip – be warned about too good to be true prices on hard cased luggage (they can easily fall apart in transit)


  • Laptop – buy a converter for power supply
  • Camera – memory cards, chargers and adapters
  • Headphones – it is nice to have a good pair that cancels out the sound
  • Power strip with converter
  • Cell phone – your cell phone may not work abroad, (and if it does is likely to incur pricey roaming charges!), unless you can buy a SIM card in the host country (alternatively, a cheap cell phone can be purchased abroad and can be used pay by the minute)

 Enjoy the series!



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