How to fashionably and effectively pack for a study abroad


Some BYU students went from prepping for final exams to packing their bags for travel abroad with the Kennedy Center International Study Abroad programs.

There are more than 1,200 students finishing last-minute preparations before setting out to adventure around the world during their Spring semester abroad. BYU study abroad programs start as early as April 26.

“Study abroads can open doors and opportunities to students that they would not otherwise receive,” said Terry Hamilton from the International Study Program Student Services office. “It opens doors for educational opportunities and future career opportunities. They open your eyes to the world.”

Before departing, students receive a packing list with general guidelines about what to bring.

As students pack their luggage there are three main categories to consider as they decide what clothing to take and what to leave home: functionality, trendiness and comfort.

Student Brooke Engilman poses in front of Eiffle Tower. (Brooke Engilman)

Senior Brooke Engilman has been on two study abroads and is preparing to go on her third. “The one thing I learned was to be prepared for any type of weather.”

Engliman’s first study abroad was in London during spring of 2013. She figured it would be nice weather, but soon found it to be extremely unpredictable.

“One minute it would be sunny and warm and an hour later it would be pouring rain and windy,” Engilman said. ” I ended up buying some sweatshirts to keep warm. You never know what kind of weather you are going to run into so it’s better to dress in layers so you are prepared for any type of weather.”

Engilman encountered many different climates during her second study abroad, an art history trip around Europe in the spring of 2015. Some of Engilman’s favorite clothing items were the comfiest and the most versatile.

“I brought a black crew-neck sweatshirt because it was really comfy, and if I needed to, I could layer stuff under and/or over it,” Engilman said. “Sometimes I would put a collared denim shirt underneath or I would wear my rain jacket over it. It was a good item to have because it was comfy and versatile.”

Engilman recommends packing light. She packs a larger suitcase but only uses half of it in anticipation of doing a lot of shopping. Engilman recalls most of the girls brought really small suitcases on her last study abroad.

“I thought it would be easier to carry one big bag, where the other girls had to buy a second piece of luggage by the end to carry all of their purchases,” Engilman said.

In deciding what items to bring, Engilman has been watching specific styles and color schemes that are popular this season.

Packing essentials in your study abroad backpacks for the long plane ride is a smart move. (Natalie Stoker)

“I have noticed a lot of neutrals and stripes in the stores which is great for packing because everything will match,” Engilman said. “While I was packing, my roommate walked in and asked me why I wasn’t bringing anything colorful. I looked down at my luggage and realized that the only colors I had packed were black, white, navy and denim. The more you can mix and match your clothes the happier you will be because you don’t feel like you are wearing the same thing every day.”

Stylebook app is another resource for students packing for a study abroad. The app helps users preplan outfits using their wardrobe.

In a recent article posted to the Stylebook app website, co-founder Jess Atkins gave tips on packing 20 outfits with only 18 items. Atkins recommend choosing one color scheme to make it easy to mix and match. She also recommend that every bottom match every top.

The app could be especially helpful for students who are frequently changing locations and climates.

Sophomore Megan Hopkins said one of the most useful items she brought on study abroad was a can of Febreeze. “I would spray my clothes with it so that they would not get too stinky between washes,” Hopkins said. “It was a major game changer.”

Accessories can be the bulkiest yet most useful items to bring. Engilman recommends the less shoes, the better.

“This summer I am taking Birkenstocks, Salt Water sandals, Nike running shoes, and Converse. My sandals can be dressed up for church and are also really comfortable for a long day of walking through museums,” Engilman said.

Engilman recommends trying shoes on before a trip to make sure they’re comfortable. If not, leave them at home. “You will not like them after a long day walking,” Engilman said.

Senior Ty Davis is leaving on the Illustration and Graphic Design study abroad in Italy this Spring and is currently deciding what items to take.

Ty Davis’s Bob Marley sunglasses that he plans on taking to Italy with him (Ty Davis)

One accessory that is a must are his sunglasses. Davis’s shades of choice are his black circle “Bob Marley” sunglasses.

“I think they are perfect for Europe because they will provide the right amount of ambiguity, like ‘Am I foreign? Or am I American?’ and yet at the same time provide a fashion statement that is recognizable and stands out. They are unique but not too dramatic,” Davis said.

Students are given a study abroad backpack before departure and many decide to use the bag on their daily adventures.

However, some women decide to  still carry bags or purses that can be worn over their shoulder on their hip. Engilman learned from her first study abroad that bringing a bag that is large enough to fit more than her camera is vital.

“My purse has to be big enough to fit my camera, my sunglasses, water bottle and wallet, yet, secure enough to keep pick-pocketers out,” Engilman said.

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