What should I bring when moving abroad?

What should I bring when moving abroad?

Studying overseas affords you the opportunity to experience a very different environment for a long time, probably in rooms in shared flats with other students. If you plan to study abroad in a city like Madrid, the things you bring along will need to prepare you for the diverse terrain, seasons and activities.

From time to time, you might want to travel within the city, experience the nightlife or even go sight-seeing. Other times, you just might want to stay curled up in your student housing room and get some ‘studying’ done. Whatever lifestyle you choose own, you surely want to pack the essential items you need to get the best out of this adventure.

The thought of having to spend a few months or even years in a new country might seem a tad daunting. You might be wondering what’s important and what should be left behind to free up space. Is it necessary to carry along things that remind you of home? Should you replace all of your fancy clothing for more functional gear? Keep in mind that you definitely won’t need to pack all that you own, and you most likely will be able to replace lost or forgotten items.

If you’re traveling in a few weeks and you still have nothing packed, don’t fret just yet. Discover the things you need to make your study abroad an amazing adventure!


You’re going to need something that will serve as your hand luggage and it will have to be strong and comfortable enough to withstand daily use at your university.

You might want to go on trips or explorations around the city to visit tourist attractions like the Royal Place in Sol or the Egyptian temple in Moncloa-Arguelles. Your backpack would be invaluable for carrying along your camera, water bottle, external batteries, and other necessities.

Location-appropriate clothes and shoes

Find out the weather conditions here and pack accordingly. If you are traveling to a cold location, you should pack thermal underwear, woolen over-socks, gloves, and a hat.

Also, check to see if your school has a dress code and what kind of clothing is culturally appropriate. You might have to stay in student residencies and not want to do laundry regularly, so keep that in mind while packing.

Usually, you would need about two weeks’ worth of underwear, comfortable shoes for classes or sports, socks, long and short sleeved shirts or blouses, sweaters or sweatshirts, jeans and other kinds of pants, and shorts or skirts. Be sure not to leave behind other accessories like sunglasses, belts, jackets, swimsuits, sandals and sports clothes.

You could decide to bring more of some types of clothing and less of the other, in the end, make sure to take the weather into consideration when packing.

Medication and toiletries

It might be difficult to find the exact toiletries that you use here in Madrid. You should be able to, but just in case, make sure you pack a few days’ worth of your essentials such as toothpaste, shower gel or soap, shampoo, deodorant and perfumes, moisturizers, grooming tools, and makeup. Also, find out the rules for liquids in your cabin luggage.

With medication, you should pack some, especially if you need to take them on prescription. It might take a while for you to adjust well enough to visit Madrid healthcare facilities or get past the language barrier, so you want to make sure you have enough. These might include anti-allergy medicine, contraceptives or even bandages.


The power outlets in your Madrid is likely different from the ones where you’re from. If you lodge in a homestays, you might be able to borrow chargers for some time, but you want to avoid this. You should pack an adapter with multiple plug types and surge protection to protect your electronic devices, just in case there is a power surge.

Books are very heavy, and you want to save as much space as possible for other travel items, so if you love reading, you should consider investing in an e-reader. Also, double check to see if you have your laptop and cell phone chargers, you don’t want to have to be stuck without those.

Other important items

Important documents like your student visa, passport, credit cards, plane tickets, student’s ID, health insurance and doctor’s prescription should be with you in your hand luggage.  Your purse/wallet with your cash in it should be handy too.

For entertainment during long train or bus trips, or when you want to block out the noise from your noisy neighbors, you should travel with a decent pair of headphones.

Things you should not carry along with you

There are items that would take up quite a lot of luggage space but would be relatively affordable here in Madrid. These are items you might need if you are considering apartments in entire flats. You should take them out of your bags if you are still trying to create room for other travel items:

  • Kitchen utensils like frying pans, pots, spoons, bowls and plates.
  • Heavy liquids in bottles
  • Blankets, pillows, duvets, bed sheets and linens.
  • Towels and facecloths.
  • Office supplies like paper, pens, and folders.
  • Umbrellas and laundry bags.

Now that you know the tips, get packing!