What To Bring vs. Buy When Abroad

Written by Peyton Brooks April 17, 2018

When preparing to go abroad this past semester, I had the chance to talk to people about everything from what to expect to what to do – from others who went abroad, who traveled to Europe, and even CIMBA alumni from my home university. However, there was one question I always asked, to which I never really got a concise answer: what do I pack for a spring semester? I had been abroad before, but it was in June and just for a week – I knew I would have to implement a different strategy; packing the minimal amount, while still having everything I wanted and needed was going to be tough. Now, being here for 10 weeks now, this is what I would personally advise bringing for a spring semester abroad in Northern Italy, as well as what to buy while here!


Travel Backpack

This has been my number one lifesaver! It is perfect for weekend trips, easy to tote around with all day, and is a great size for a carry-on on a bus or airplane. With this, I never needed a checked bag, plus if I could not check into a hostel or hotel for a few hours, this was better to carry around a big city instead of a rolling bag!

Business/Formal AttireIMG_9038

At CIMBA, you will have company tours, formal dinners, and other events that require a dress, a formal jacket, or dress pants. I recommend about 2-3 options that you can mix or match, but not too much – you won’t be wearing dresses or formal wear on your trips!

Filtered water bottle 

This is great for traveling and for class. You can always buy or order a water bottle while here, but I love my BRITA and having an option for filtered water, especially when I am in places I do not know as well.

Tennis shoes

This may be a given, but I recommend at least two pairs – one for traveling and one for play. I would advise getting some comfy, yet versatile shoes to wear while traveling that look good with a normal outfit and match most things (like white or black New Balance or Addidas) that also won’t kill your feet after walking about 20 miles in one trip. Also, your normal shoes for hiking, running, and physical group activities, like for the obstacle course here at CIMBA, are a necessity. 

Adapters and Converters

First, know the difference – adapters are good for things like chargers for your phone, and IMG_7048converters are for larger items like your computer, a shaver, or hair dryer. Make sure you know what your devices need. My computer charger is three-pronged, and I realized what I got here that all of mine were only two-pronged! You can always order on Amazon, and also have plenty – those suckers are easy to lose or leave!


Mixing and matching are key! It’s so easy packing white, gray, and black items that I can change up on the weekends. It makes packing so much easier. Definitely bring different levels of warmth for different weather – raincoats, a scarf, gloves, a winter hat, your winter coat, and a light jacket will cover what you need.


School supplies

There are plenty of stores nearby that have notebooks, pencils, pens, flash drives, and folders for class, so just wait until you are here to get your class necessities. Processed with VSCO with c1 preset


Take my advice – pack travel toiletries that will get you through a few days, but buy the bigger, bulkier items here! CIMBA provides mall trips your first week here for items you need or forgot. Do remember to bring the things you specifically like and need at home, like specific makeup, face wash, 0r medicine.


While clothes are the most stressful and important thing I had to worry about packing, I would pack the basics but only pack a minimal amount. Someone told me to pack what I thought I needed and then cut that in half. I wish I had listened to that more! There are plenty of chances to shop here for reasonable and fun clothes, plus shipping and ordering online are always an option. 

I hope these options can answer your questions about what to pack before traveling abroad.

Ciao for now,