It may seem like just another task, but packing for a trip abroad actually requires quite a bit of planning and organization.
It isn’t uncommon to start thinking about what you are and aren’t going to pack weeks in advance of your trip. There are some major things to keep in mind once you drag your suitcase out from under your bed.
Have you ever flown with you giant wheelie suitcase? While it seems silly for most mainstream suitcases to be considered "oversized", it happens all the time. Check your airline’s dimension and weight requirements before you load all of your sweaters into your suitcase and consider opting for a rolling duffel; they are actually designed to be easier to manage, and being less rigid means that they are more likely to pass size checks at the airport. The last thing you’ll want to worry about it paying extra for your bags!
Most people who work abroad leave significant time for recreational travel. If you work in Europe, South American or parts of Asia, you’ll have a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit a large number of countries easily. Hopping from place to place in Europe is relatively inexpensive with a Eurail pass, and buses in South America can be shockingly comfortable and inexpensive (if not a bit slow at times). Taking the time to travel will only enhance your overall experience, as well as give you a break from what is potentially a 9-to-5 job. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to have clothes that fit into a small enough bags to carry with you all over Sao Paulo, Amsterdam or Tokyo…and that you leave room for souvenirs. This is where those great hiking backpacks come into play, and you give serious consideration to buying a comfortable, roomy backpack that fits carry-on regulations on airlines. Sporting goods stories like REI have backpacks like these, as do the major chains like Target.
There’s a great bit of advice floating around about packing clothing for international travel: Take all of the clothing your own and make a pile. Take that pile and divide it in half, taking out clothes that aren’t sure about. From the new half-pile, identify half of those clothes as "must-pack." Pack those and leave everything else!
While we’re all taught to pack for every possible occasion, space should be your packing priority. Most young adults wear the same few outfits over and over, occasionally branching out into the depths of their closets for something special. Packing for your trip abroad, you’ll have to think about much more than just clothes, so bringing everything you want is simply not an option. Just make sure that you have work-appropriate clothes and shoes, and great layering pieces for the weekends. Layers eliminate the need for bulky sweaters, leaving room to pick up new things during your travels. As mentioned above, also pay close attention to the types of bags you’re bringing: will they fit on the plane? Do you have something for a weekend trip? Will you have to carry a laptop to work everyday? Start with choosing the right bags, and go from there!
Now that we’ve established that packing isn’t just about the clothes, make a list of everything you use during the week: cell phone, laptop, iPod, wallet, etc. You’ll more than likely need to buy a converter for electrical appliances. If you are living with roommates, try to split up communal things like hairdryers and chargers. Check in with your hostel or home stay about all of the amenities, and ask your company (or check some blogs) about the price of things like toiletries – if they are much more expensive, consider bringing a few things like moisturizer and toothpaste with you.
Having a good grip on packing and getting it over with early will make the entire process much faster and easier. After all, you’ll be full of excitement for your new job and travels, and the last thing you’ll want to deal with is your suitcase!