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13 Packing Tips for Your International Travels

November 30, 2023 Sarah Bichsel 1 Comment
Students pose for the camera in the airport with their suitcases

Struggling to pack for your overseas adventure? Don’t worry. As frequent fliers, the ACIS Educational Tours team has turned packing a bag into both an art and a science. We’ve gathered up 13 of our top packing tips for international travel from our years of experience to share with you.

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1. Bring comfortable walking shoes – Ones you’ve worn previously!

Top of the list for tips, especially for a European walking tour, is to make sure you bring comfortable shoes. Make sure they have plenty of arch support and that you have broken them in at least once or twice before travel. You don’t want a blister to be the first souvenir you pick up abroad!

Bonus Tip: The cobblestones of old cities are not friendly to high heels, so ladies, if you’re planning an evening out, consider alternative footwear.

2. Pack a bag within your bag

You’ll be thankful to have a lightweight backpack or sling bag with you as you go about your day abroad: A portable bag means fewer returns to the hotel to pick up needed items. Keep it large enough to fit your phone, wallet, and a waterbottle (see next tip) but small enough that it can easily fit inside a carry on.

A student stands at a museum with an ACIS backpack

3. Pack an outfit for entering religious sites

Many religious buildings, including the Vatican and the Pantheon, enforce etiquette around clothing. Dressing appropriately could make the difference between seeing a masterpiece or waiting outside. Keep these rules in mind and pack a shirt with sleeves or a shawl and a longer pair of pants or skirt – Basically you’ll want to be sure to have your shoulders and knees covered. If you’re scheduled to visit a Cathedral on a particular day, be sure to have those items in your backpack so you don’t have to return to your hotel to change.

4. Keep the essentials in your carry on

If you’re checking a bag, be sure to reserve key essentials for your carry on bag, including a clean pair of clothes, contact lenses, and a jacket. Medications should ALWAYS be put in your carry on! If there is a delay with your checked luggage, you will feel much better knowing you won’t waste a day without a change of clothes and the items that matter most.

5. In fact, just bring a carry on!

You will save yourself the worry of lost luggage by packing in a carry on. Plus they are generally easier to manuever through public transit and city spaces. Even the most experienced ACIS travelers prefer to bring the carry on.

6. Roll your clothes to save space

You will be shocked at how much more room you have in your suitacse when you roll your clothing items instead of folding them! Just remember, you’re going to want to pick up souvenirs while you’re abroad, so save that extra room for keepsakes rather than additional clothing.

7. Think layers

Be prepared for all types of weather as you travel through different climates! In Costa Rica, for example, you’ll certainly want to bring shorts, but also a sweatshirt and a rain jacket for traversing the Cloud Forest. And as discussed in tip #2, you want to be prepared for any cultural settings that would require a quick change into longer sleeves.

8. Bring a refillable waterbottle

One easy way you can be a more sustainable traveler is to bring a refillable waterbottle. Staying hydrated is important during a busy travel schedule and think of all the single-use plastic bottles you’ll avoid if you have your own! There are also multiple apps you can download to find refill stations while on the road.

Students refilling waterbottles at a fountain in Paris

9. Wear your bulkiest items on the plane

Perhaps you’re traveling to a cold-climate and need a down jacket. Or maybe your adventure calls for thick hiking boots. Either way, you can save a ton of space within your suitcase by simply wearing these items on the journey to your destination. It may not be glamorous to wear your parka to the gate, but it does open room in your suitcase!

10. Line your suitcase with dryer sheets

This is a great, inexpensive travel tip to feel good after an exhausting day of travel. Dryer sheets take up virtually 0 space, but your clothes will come out of the suitcase feeling and smelling fresh even after a long flight in the belly of a plane.

11. Make sure you have the right charging adapter

Ahead of your international travels, it’s good to remember that the power outlets won’t always be the same as the ones you have at home in the United States. Check to see what charger you need to bring for electronic items such as phones, tablets, hairdryers, and smart watches. If you’re going to multiple countries, you may need more than one, so be sure to see this list of adapters by country!

12. Invest in packing cubes

Frequent travelers will tell you: One of the keys to packing smart is packing cubes. Made of light fabric and mesh, packing cubes help you organize your clothes and keep you from overpacking (“If it doesn’t fit the cube, it’s not coming with you” is what we say in my house). They compress air, making more space for the things you need.

13. Try solid toiletries

It can be a pain to lug liquids overseas: Standard TSA regulations permit each passenger to carry on one quart size, clear, plastic, zip top bag with liquids, gels, and aersols that each have no more than 3.2 oz per container. Not only do you have to pack the big ones separately, but there is a greater chance that rough handling on the ground or pressure in the air will cause leaks in the bottles. Consider shopping for solid toiletries, such as shampoo and conditioner. There is an added benefit here too of avoiding more single-use plastics, so it is a sustainability win to boot!

Plan an Educational Adventure Abroad with ACIS

As a leader in educational travel, ACIS distinguishes itself through meticulous planning by dedicated program consultants, centrally located hotels for optimized exploration, and uniquely tailored experiences to help teachers meet their classroom goals. Choose ACIS for an enriching international adventure with a focus on quality and customization. Browse our tours today!

What is your top packing tip for international travel? Share below in the comments!

Sarah Bichsel

Sarah Bichsel

One thought on “13 Packing Tips for Your International Travels

  1. I always pack a collapsible duffle bag in case I need more room coming home after buying souvenirs, etc. Dirty clothes always seem to take more room than clean ones, so I stuff the duffle bag with dirty clothes and check that bag. Then I still have my carry-on bag with all of my precious purchases on board with me!

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