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15 Items You’ll Be Glad You Purchased Before Going Abroad

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8. Swiss Army Knife

A Swiss Army Knife has all of the essentials a traveler could need built into one little gadget (i.e. corkscrew, scissors, knife, nail file, and bottle opener). Remember to pack this in your checked luggage so it doesn’t get taken away at security. If you forget to grab one of these before you fly, it’s the perfect excuse to get to Switzerland and purchase one from the source. In Switzerland they even sell them at hostels, from key-chain sizes to the heavy-duty ones. You can get them engraved – so they’re a perfect souvenir for the guys (or girls!) at home.

 

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9. Books

Reading is the perfect way to entertain yourself, whether that is on a long bus ride or on the beach in Mykonos. If you enjoy reading from an e-reader check out the Kindle Paperwhite from Amazon, it’s easy to travel because it’s so small and lightweight.  If you prefer old-school paperbacks, it’s a good idea to bring one or two books to start your trip with and then you can use those books to exchange with travelers you meet along the way. Most hostels also have a book exchange shelf somewhere so if you can’t find it, ask the front desk. You can drop your already-read books there and pick up a new one someone else has left behind– for free! Here are some travel-themed books to get you started.

 

 

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10. Universal Adapter and Converter

It’s important to do your research about which plugs the country you are going to uses. It’s also important to know which electronics you are bringing require a convertor. Just to be safe, I always travel with a universal adaptor/converter like the one shown above that has different adaptors for each region and also serves as a convertor. It is better to be safe than sorry when dealing with electronics. Consider getting two in case one breaks during the semester.

Read next: How to Protect Your Valuables While Studying Abroad

 

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11. Reusable Water Bottle

If the tap water is safe to drink where you are visiting, you can save money and stay hydrated by using a reusable water bottle. Water bottles also have many purposes; you can store many things inside like your toothbrush when traveling or they can make a great flask. You can also buy a plastic foldable bottle if you want to save suitcase room.

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12. Go-Pro Camera

GoPros are one type of camera that we suggest getting before going abroad (we have 4 others that we love too). These wide-angled cameras are small and waterproof, which can take awesome pictures and videos of your intense white water adventures or your bike ride down through that rainforest.

 

 

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13. Portable Speakers

Your music can follow you wherever you go with portable speakers. They are compact and light, which make them very easy to travel with but they can also be very loud. If you are at a house party you can easily whip them out and plug them into your computer or cellphone and be DJ for the night. Beaching it on the Amalfi coast and need some good vibes, no problem! If you’re looking for a recommendation,  I prefer the X-Mini speakers shown above.

 

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14. American Medicine

If you are used to taking a lot of Advil to cure your hangovers or Nyquil to fight a cold, do not forget to pack those. It can be hard to find exactly what you are looking for in foreign pharmacies, and especially while traveling, communicating needs in Croatian or Swiss German may be a tad difficult. Get the pill form whenever you can to minimize weight and you’ll be very happy when that cold hits and you still have your go-to medicine to make you ready to take on another day of travel. They even have travel medicine kits that would be perfect for a semester abroad.

 

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15. A Deck of Cards

This is among the simplest and cheapest items you can bring, but I promise you will not regret it! A deck of regular cards or perhaps UNO provide for easy entertainment while traveling anywhere and can be used on planes, trains, and buses. Plus, they always come in handy when you are playing drinking games with your friends.

Read next: What to Pack for Your Study Abroad Semester

Photo Source: Terminals & Gates via Flickr



Alyssa is a recent graduate from the University of Florida. After studying abroad in Florence, Italy for the summer, Alyssa could not stay away from Europe so she decided to spend the year studying in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Spending the day with Alyssa includes jumping off cliffs, exploring mysterious new places, and watching the sunset along the sea. You can read about all of her adventures on her blog.


7 thoughts on “15 Items You’ll Be Glad You Purchased Before Going Abroad

  1. Susanna

    Great list! I’m going to try to collect as many of these as possible before I move in 25 days (EEEEK!). Unfortunately, with study abroad coming up my finances are really low, so I think this would make a great *gift* idea for study abroad students list ; )

    Reply
  2. FunKyChick

    I took some of these items on a recent trip to London and Paris. For me the charger, dual-voltage dryer & flat iron, and universal adapter were the most important. I didn’t really have time to read and found it hard to concentrate and read on the flights and trains. I barely used the journal. I took lots of photos instead. I do wish I had taken a picture of every restaurant we ate in to help me remember those places.

    I found it fun to wander into the Boots store in London looking for some PMS cramp medicine for my daughter. It gave me the opportunity to buy some makeup and hair care products that aren’t available in the US. We also went to a grocery store in Paris near our hotel and bought a few snacks and drinks for the hotel room.

    Reply
  3. marcy

    We moved to Ethiopia in July 2014 to teach. We travel quite a bit now and agree this list is helpful. With the mac and cheese…just bring the powder packets…you can find pasta in most countries. My favorite item is noise canceling earbuds or ear plugs for a quiet nights sleep.

    Reply
  4. Elena

    If you are going to a SE Asian country, it is hard to find a water bottle. It is really easy to find a portable charger. Depending on the country you are in and how urban a place you are in, there are pharmacies. They also sell that adapter.
    In Europe though, I would argue that their drugs are better than ours – you can buy ibuprofen in 400 and 600mg pills, which is much more economical than the 200mg ones we can buy here.
    Journals you can find almost anywhere. Bit more fun to pick up one in the place you go, I think. The ones I saw in Norway with a Norwegian sweater pattern were adorable.

    Reply

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