Today’s post will be the first of my “study abroad” series.
I spent two years working as an administrative assistant at my university’s study abroad office, and I spent a semester studying in Bordeaux last year–so I feel like I have my fair share of knowledge when it comes to studying abroad.
I’ll be covering things ranging from finding the best housing situation to packing tips to immersing yourself in a new culture–so if you have any specific questions or requests, make sure to comment below!
Keep in mind I am American and I studied abroad in France–so a lot of my advice will be most applicable toward American students studying in Europe, but hopefully these posts can still serve as some sort of help whether you’re studying abroad or taking some time to travel.
Today I’ll be going over choosing the right kind of luggage for your study abroad.
While this point may seem trivial, if you’re planning on traveling to countries other than your study abroad destination, choosing the right kind of luggage from the very beginning can end up saving you a lot of money.
Baggage restrictions and cabin space tend to be smaller in Europe than they are in the US, so if you’re going to spend any money on a new piece of luggage for your study abroad–invest in a small carry-on!
Your check-in bag isn’t that important–it just needs to hold up long enough for your flights to and from your study abroad destination. If you don’t already own a check-in just borrow one from your family or a friend rather than buying a new suitcase. If you can’t fit all of your belongings in it–you’ve packed too much. (I’ll be going over do’s and don’ts when it comes to packing in another post).
Now, as far as your carry-on goes, you’ll want to research cabin restrictions beforehand. You can find super cheap flights around Europe, but most of these airlines are notorious for their baggage restrictions.
The only airline I used while I was abroad was EasyJet–and my 21 inch carry-on was too big to meet their restrictions! This meant I had to check it in each time I flew which was an additional 80 euros per flight! :'( Though it would have been around 40 euros if I had checked my bag in ahead of time online–still, an unnecessary expense).
So, don’t make the same mistake I did–find a small bag or carry-on before you leave the country. You don’t want to waste so much money on checking in a bag. The amount I spent on checking in my bag could have covered a few more plane tickets. Thinking about this right now makes me cringe.
Remember that when EasyJet (and airlines like EasyJet) say you get one hand luggage piece–they really only mean one. They don’t mean one plus a personal item. If you have a purse with you–you’ll have to consolidate it in your carry on. If you have a camera bag–you’ll have to consolidate it in your carry-on. Even if you think you’ve just gotten away with it and your ticket has been scanned and you’re about to get on the plane–they will notice and stop you and ask you to consolidate your personal item in your carry-on. If you can’t fit your personal item in your carry-on, they’ll make you check in your bag and pay the 80 euro check in fee!
Knowing I’ll be headed back to Europe soon, I’ve invested in a smaller carry on.
I found this one at TJ Maxx and it’s by Victorinox (Sidenote–TJ Maxx has always been my favorite for luggage. They always have great markdowns and solid brands available).
This carry-on is perfect for all the kind of traveling I’ll be doing because it’s tiny (14.75″w x 20″h x 8″d) and it has a little sleeve for my laptop, which is great since I would normally carry my laptop in my messenger bag or purse. This also makes going through security a bit faster, since I can just slip the laptop in and out instead of opening up the entire suitcase…(I get very stressed out when going through security in the fear that I am taking too long and irritating the person behind me).
TLDR–if you’re bringing a carry-on with you for your study abroad, make sure it meets the small baggage restrictions! It will be cheaper for you to buy a small carry-on at a place like TJ Maxx or Marshalls or even Amazon before you leave than to buy a new one in Europe or pay the fee to check in your carry-on.