Student exchange packing tips + essentials

Packing for a long trip or student exchange is pretty daunting. How do you fit a years worth of clothes into one suitcase ? The answer is with difficulty.

Although allowed 30kg of luggage on most economy flights, many exchange companies only let their students take one suitcase, insisting two suitcases would be too difficult to cart around. So I had to fit everything in one suitcase, a backpack and a satchel.

I am on exchange in the east of France. In summer it is hot and in winter it is very cold. -20° cold.

~Packing tip 1~ Vacuum bags

Vacuum bags were super helpful whilst I was packing. While almost all my other friends are in big towns, I am not. This meant i had to pack more clothes. Clothes take up a lot of room but with the help of a vacuum bag they only took up half my suitcase. Your Host family will most likely have a vacuum and if not ask to borrow a neighbors.

~Packing tip 2~ Buy Clothes when you arrive

I come from sunny Sydney where we never get snow. This meant I didn't have the clothes necessary for a European winter. While tempting to buy everything at home, winter clothes take up a lot of space. Chances are they will also be a lot cheaper in colder places and there will be more choice.

~Packing tip 3~ pack what you can in carry on

While most airlines claim a 7kg limit on carry on, most major airlines won't check the weight. This means you can put heavy things (like a book or two) in your carry on with no problem. Most airlines will also allow a second carry on item such as a handbag or camera bag. Fill these babies up because you need all the space you can get


  • Photos from home of friends and family
  • Blutack to put the photos up with
  • Travel bottles of shampoo and conditionner, especially the conditionner. In the supermarkets bear me they only sell one or two varieties and my family doesn't use it
  • Earplugs and an eye mask- for the plane and if you are sharing a room
  • Comfort items- a teddy, book, blanket. Whatever comforts you
  • A stress ball- you'll thank me
  • Things to do when bored- I can't stress this enough. I have a lot of time alone and my family doesn't have wifi at home and I'm not at my host grandparents on weekends. I brought embroidery stuff, a sudoko book, journals, colouring books and a tablet to read on.
  • Charger converter - don't forget!!!!- one should be enough
  • enough pads or tampons for a cycle. Your host family might not go to the shops very often and you might life in a small town
  • Good quality neutral clothes such as a denim jacket for layering. European countries have variation in weather so layers are your best friend
  • Your favourite moisturiser and concealer

If you have anything to add to the list please leave it in the comments.

À bientôt,

India xx