It’s almost a year since I finished my exchange at the Universidad Autónoma in Barcelona, and what a year it has been! Looking back at my photos, I’m really overwhelmed at how much happened in the short four months that I spent in Spain. However, one aspect that will forever haunt me is packing! Be it the uncertainty around what to take before I left, or not knowing what to leave behind, or how to get everything home, packing was the bane of my life whilst abroad, so hopefully my tips can help you out!
- Don’t take more than you can carry!
This one is absolutely essential. I went to Spain with two large suitcases and my backpack, and it was more than enough. I know some people who travelled with less, but if you can’t reasonably carry your luggage on your own, you probably have too much!
- Think about what you can reasonably (and inexpensively) buy abroad.
For me, this included all of my bedding and kitchen utensils. If you are going into halls at the Universidad Autónoma in Barcelona, you can buy kits from them for moving in and leave them behind at the end of your stay – very handy! I stayed in private accommodation but left what I didn’t need with some friends at the end of my stay.
- Pack for all weathers!
Although I was in sunny Barcelona, I did a lot of travelling, which meant being prepared for all weather! You may not need that big coat whilst you’re kicking back on the beach in Barcelona but hitting Brussels in the autumn was a huge shock temperature wise!
- Don’t forget the home comforts!
Arguably the most important part for me was little things from home to help me settle into my new flat. I took my sunlight alarm clock from home to Spain, and it was so helpful when I needed to get up for 8:30am classes. It was also comforting to have a little bit of home out with me, for the times when I got homesick.
- Get insurance.
Not something to pack but very important! You never know what will happen when you’re abroad, so it is definitely better to be safe than sorry! Unfortunately for one of my very good friends I made in Barcelona, all of her luggage was stolen from her car whilst travelling in Morocco at the end of her exchange. Luckily, she had insurance so was able to claim back the costs, but it was still heart-breaking to lose so many cherished souvenirs that she had gathered whilst in Spain.
My most important point would really be to pack light. You can buy a lot of things overseas, and you won’t be there for too long; you also may not have much storage space to fit everything in! I would say it is better to have extra space for souvenirs than to be slapped with extra luggage charges at the last minute before you leave!