Whether you’re going on a short weekend trip or a long-term stay abroad, packing is an essential part of the travel planning process. It can be stressful figuring out what to bring, and how much to bring. Lots of people put it off until the last minute and then pack all the wrong things.
Feeling overwhelmed by the packing process? Have no fear! Greenheart Travel is here to help! We’ve compiled the ultimate packing list, including checked & carry-on bags, for you as well as some of our staff’s favorite tips. With this helpful list, packing will be a breeze! Now, you won’t have to worry about over packing or spending an arm & leg on baggage fees.
Depending on your length of stay abroad, you may decide to check a bag with the airlines. It will allow you more space for your items (and souvenirs you buy later!) but keep in mind, there are trade offs –larger size can be cumbersome in certain countries, may harder to move around, airlines might lose it — so it’s always good to have the essentials & valuables in your carry-on bag. If you are checking a bag, make sure to check with the airlines ahead of time about cost & weight requirements to avoid fees at the airport.
All of these suggestions are assuming a 2 week stay, but you shouldn’t need much more than 2 weeks worth of clothing (regardless of length of stay) since you’ll likely be doing laundry along the way.
It’s important for female or female-identified travelers to do a little extra research about the destination country before packing. In many countries, there are societal norms about modesty, appropriate dress and skin exposure that disproportionately affect women. Be aware that your appearance & apparel may draw unwanted attention to you, so it’s always good to try and fit in with the local customs.
Please Note: You may not use some of these items. If they don’t apply to you, feel free not to pack them!
|What||How Many?||Special Notes|
|Shoes||1-3 Pairs Recommended||Sandals, Sneakers and Flats. Heels not necessary.|
|Bottoms||3-5 Pairs||Shorts, Jeans & Slacks|
|Tops||4-6 Shirts||T-shirts without writing or logos. At least one button down or polo is recommended. Avoid low necklines|
|Dresses||1-2 Dresses||Maxis are modest & comfortable|
|Pajamas||1 Set||Shorts & t-shirts are usually fine|
|Outerwear||1 Coat||Raincoat for rainy climates, heavy coat for cold climates|
|Underwear||7 -10 pairs||Can be rolled for easy packing|
|Socks||6-8 Pairs||Might consider less for a warm climate if you’ll be wearing sandals|
|Bras||3-5 bras||Don’t forget at least 1 sports bra!|
|Swimsuit||1 -2 sets||Bikini, one-piece or shorts. Check social norms first.|
|Hat||1 baseball hat or sun hat||Helps to avoid sunburn|
|Sunglasses||1 -2 Pairs||Polarized make it easier to see in the sun|
|Scarf||1-2 Scarves||For quick cover up, or outfit change|
|Prescription Glasses||*if needed||You never know when you might run out of contacts|
|Shampoo & Conditioner||1 month supply||Keep in small containers|
|Toothbrush & Toothpaste||1 month supply||Mini sizes under 3.4 oz are best for TSA|
|Cosmetics||1 make-up bag||Just the basics is usually enough|
|Razor||1 handle & extra blades||Avoid electric if possible|
|Contacts||*if needed||Have at least a couple extra sets on hand|
|Feminine Products||As much as you’ll need||Tampons are REALLY hard to find abroad. Bring lots|
|Basic First-Aid Kit||1 Kit||Should include bandaids, over-the-counter meds (tylonol, imodium, etc) & cold meds|
|Towel||*if needed||Check if it’s included in your accommodation. If not, quick dry towels are best!|
|Cross-Body Bag||1 Purse or bag||Make sure it has a zipper!|
Here at Greenheart Travel, we are big supporters of the #carryononly trend for travel, but for longer programs, it can be hard to fit it all in a small bag! You might check a bag and still need a backpack or larger carry-on. In that case, here is your complete list.
If you prefer having a smaller carry-on bag (like a purse or small backpack), that’s fine too! You’ll need to downsize a few things, but the essentials are still likely to be in your bag. Check out what we suggest below.
“I keep a bag for my dirty clothes and I always put a dryer sheet inside the bag to keep it smelling fresh. That way it doesn’t stink up the rest of your stuff! You can also turn your clothes inside out to know which ones are dirty vs clean” — Savannah McDermott, Teach & Work Program Coordinator
“Pack your favorites. Never bring something that you haven’t worn before. I always travel with basics, like a white t-shirt or black vest, and then jazz up my outfits with jewelry or a colorful scarf” — Sara Dorsey, Senior Teach & Work Abroad Program Manager
“I never travel with a suitcase. My trusty backpack has been with me since the beginning and I love it. It’s so much easier to move around with a backpack than a suitcase, especially in developing countries. No matter how long my trip is, I will find a way to fit it all in my backpack” — Kara Menini, Teach & Work Program Manager
“Rolling underwear & socks and then stuffing them into my shoes helps save space. Plus, it helps maintain the shape of dress shoes or for the ladies, keep your flats less flat.” — Kyle Trebotich, Director of Greenheart Travel
“I save up all the cosmetic & lotion samples that I get from like Birchbox and Sephora for my travels. They’re the perfect little sizes, and are easy to pack. Those mini perfumes are the best!” — Lauren Bauer, Teach & Work Abroad Director
“I am a big exercise nut, so I always think about how I am going to work out while traveling. I pack a swimsuit instead of running shoes, because it saves space and still gets my heart rate up!” — Hope Pavich, High School Abroad Director
“I pack all my small things (shirts, underwear, socks, etc) into gallon plastic bags. It makes it easy to squish them down and save space, and it also makes it easier to find inside a big backpack or suitcase. I always pack a few extra too, for dirty clothes and toiletries. Sometimes the air pressure explodes the bottles, and I don’t want lotion all over my stuff!” — Megan Arzbaecher, Short-Term Programs Manager
4 thoughts on "Greenheart Travel’s Ultimate Going Abroad Packing List"
Two other things you could add would be gum (for reliving pressure in your ears and fresh breath) and chapstick.
Hey! Awesome suggestions. The only thing that would make this better would be using more inclusive language to ensure trans and queer folk who are looking into a move abroad won’t be further discouraged, especially since there are already so many barriers in that respect. A simple step would be combining both lists into one! That would allow people to choose what’s right for them no matter their gender. I hope Greenheart can take this small step towards inclusivity.
Thank you so much for this suggestion Shakira. You are totally right, and we appreciate you bringing this to our attention! We’ve actually already gone ahead and updated the packing list to be one single list. Hopefully this will be a less gendered list, and more cohesive and inclusive for all. We couldn’t agree more about making travel & cultural immersion inclusive and welcoming to all people, so thank you for helping us update this blog post. Please let us know if you have any other feedback!