You have just spent the semester or year in a foreign country where you mastered the language, immersed yourself in the local culture, saw some pretty amazing sights, and gained a whole new perspective about yourself and the world. Kudos to you for completing your study abroad experience! Now that your exchange is coming to an end, you are due to fly back home shortly. You look at your closet and the various souvenirs and objects you’ve collected since you arrived overseas. You’re thinking how the heck am I going to fit all this into my luggage?
Packing takes planning and time. Don’t start two hours before you get on the plane! You will most likely pack and re-pack until you are satisfied before having your bulging baggage closed, zipped up, and ready to go. Give yourself at least a day to start placing things into your suitcases and give yourself a few more days before that to throw out items, clean up your room or apartment, and decide how to fit everything into your bags.
Fortunately, packing for your return is much easier than when you initially departed to study abroad. Instead of deciding what to bring and how much, you have to think about how to fit your belongings into your luggage and what you need and don’t need to bring home. Most international airlines allow two luggages weighing up to 70 kilograms. They will slap you with hefty fees for going over the weight limit, so bare that in mind as well.
Advice on Packing
First of all, decide what to leave behind: it is advisable to leave items such as shampoo, soap, and other toiletries. They take up unnecessary space in your bags and can be easily replaced. If you wore out a shirt or a pair of shoes, throw them out—especially if you went shopping during your time abroad and bought new ones to replace them. Don’t hold on to anything that is not essential.
When packing, place the heaviest items (such as shoes, books, and of course, clothing) at the bottom of your suitcase, which equalizes the weight when it is scaled. Roll up your clothes into compact pieces instead of folding them. This will maximize space (and prevent creasing and wrinkling) and help you better organize your suitcases. Stuff socks and underwear into the shoes you pack, which should go in the side pockets of the bag to save room. Wear layers when you travel home to reduce what needs to be packed.
Use a scale to weigh your bags before you leave for the airport. If you are unable to fit everything into your bags and can’t bear to leave certain items behind, arrange to have them shipped. What may not fit in the bags you will check in can also be placed in the carry-on. In your carry-on bag, keep items such as medication, money, travel documents, and keys there. Enjoy the rest of your study abroad experience and happy packing!