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What to pack when going abroad?

An essential how to guide for packing

Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in life

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What you pack should be decided by the type of trip you're going on and where you're going. If you're going to Prague in November, don't pack sandals and insect repellent. Likewise, if you're heading to Greece for the summer, it's unlikely that you'll need 3 woolly jumpers squeezed into your rucksack.

The packing essentials for going abroad 


When travelling in Europe make sure to bring your European health insurance card. This entitles you to emergency health care in any EU member state.

If you are looking to settle down or find a job references from previous employers and their contact details are vital. You will also need copies of official documents, such as a your birth cert and any educational qualifications you might need when applying for a job.

It is a good idea to bring extra photocopies of your passport. Keep a copy separate to your original when you tavel and also leave a copy back at home that your family or a friend can have access to. 

Packing tips

  • Carry a bag or suitcase that you can handle and is suitable for the journey
  • Where possible avoid bringing anything valuable with you
  • If you take any medication, bring enough for the whole trip and also a copy of the prescription
  • Bring a small first aid kit and if needed contraception and sanitary products
  • Roll up your clothes when packing to reduce the amount of space they take up 
  • Pack clothes that are comfortable, but that you'll also feel happy wearing out 
  • Mark your luggage with a tag or scarf so that you can identfy easily which one is yours
  • Leave room in your luggage for what you will buy when you are away 

Tips when travelling

Carry your passport, driving license, tickets, bank cards, medication and any other important items in your hand luggage when flying. If there's any space left, keep your toothbrush and spare underwear there too: it makes a big difference if your other bags get lost or delayed.

While travelling around, keep valuables in an inner pocket of your clothing. Be aware of potential pickpockets, especially when you're in a crowd or carrying a backpack.

Valuables that you need to keep safe include your passport, tickets, credit cards, bankcards and bank account details, traveller cheque numbers, visa or work permits and details of your travel insurance.

Never bring new shoes on holiday: always break them in at least 2 weeks before you leave. Comfortable walking shoes are a must on any holiday and sandals are a good idea if you're going to a warm/ hot country. 

Carry on restrictions 

  • You are not allowed to carry large volumes of liquid, gels or paste onto planes
  • Makeup and other toiletries must be under 100ml
  • They must also be displayed for inspection in a clear plastic bag before going through secuirty
  • This rule applies throughout the EU, North America and many Asian countries
  • You can also buy empty 100ml bottles in many shops, so you can fill them up with your products
  • Sharp items are not allowed in hand luggage, so don’t pack your expensive tweezers in your hand luggage, as they may be confiscated
  • Find out more about liquids and other carry on restrictions here

Packing to come home

  • Check the weight allowance if you're flying as excess charges can be really expensive
  • Bags are handled roughly during travel - make sure to pack fragile stuff carefully or carry them in your hand luggage
  • Never agree to carry anything for another person 
  • Always keep your bags in sight: there is less chance that they'll be stolen and it stops anyone from slipping something inside
  • Check how much alcohol and cigarettes you can legally carry home 
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Published Novem­ber 28th2012
Tags travel emigration visas packing
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