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What to Pack for a Summer Vacation or Summer Abroad


What to pack for a summer abroad

The following article has been one of my most requested since I started CF! Since so many of you are traveling abroad or within the country for the summer, tons of you have been writing me and asking what to pack. So here you go – my guide to the essentials you’ll need to bring for fabulous a summer abroad or wherever you happen to be going.

Normally I’m all for packing light, but since you’ll likely be traveling for 3 months, this is one time when you’re going to need a variety of things. I’ll try to keep this list minimal for those of you who want to carry your bag on, but it’s more than likely that you’ll just have to suck it up, check your bags, cross your fingers, and hope for the best.

General Packing Tips

Figure out the weather of the place you’re going. Go to the country or city’s Wikipedia page and find out the average highs and lows of the months that you’ll be there. Since it’s summer here in the USA, if you’re going to be in the northern hemisphere, you’ll probably need summer clothes. If you’re going to be in the southern hemisphere, pack for winter. The extremes of the temperatures will vary, of course, with where you’re going.

Understand the cultural norms of the place you’re going. This has implications for the kind of clothes you can bring. For example, in some South American countries women almost always wear skirts or dresses, while women wearing shorts or pants can often be considered socially unacceptable or even vulgar! Make an effort to know this type of info ahead of time and pack accordingly.

Know your luggage limits! Find out your flight’s weight/size limits for checked and carryon baggage ahead of time and pack accordingly. There’s nothing worse than getting to the airport and finding out that your bags are too heavy to be checked. Don’t let it happen to you!

Pack some extra clothes in your carry on luggage. Lost luggage can happen to anyone, and if yours is lost or stolen, you’ll be happy you have more than one outfit to wear.

Leave extra room in your luggage for things you’ll buy when you’re there. I always try to buy something fabulous when I travel. That way when people ask where I got it, I can tell them “oh, in Paris/Madrid/Barcelona”, etc. It’s an easy way to have an instant conversation piece.

Clothing Essentials

Summer Vacation Clothes

The following are my picks for essential clothes to bring for a summer vacation. Bear in mind that the numbers listed are just general ideas – you may want to bring more or less of the following items depending on what you’ll be doing, how much you want to bring, and your own personal style.

* 2-5 Basic Dresses – I am a huge fan of dresses for summer – they’re an entire outfit in one easy-to-pack piece. Just throw one on, add a pair of sandals and a few choice accessories, and you’re good to go. Perfect for when you have better things to do than worry about what you’re wearing. Of course, if you’re going to be backpacking across Europe, hiking in South America, or doing lots of athletic activities, then dresses won’t be a staple for you.

When it comes to the specific dresses you pack, try to stick to neutral colors like black or white and fabrics like jersey that won’t wrinkle too easily. I recommend at least one little black dress and at least one white or light colored sundress for daytime, but bring whatever you will wear most.

* 1 Special Occasion Dress – Even if you’re not planning to do anything special during your trip, it’s good to be prepared! Who knows, you might meet a hot guy in Rome who wants to take you to a fabulous restaurant, or you could get invited to an amazing party at a fancy hotel in Monaco. Keep your options open and bring at least one standout dress.

* 2-4 Pairs of Jeans – Denim is the staple of every girl’s wardrobe. Even in summer, jeans are a fashionable and practical choice. They can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion – casual enough for a day of shopping paired with flats and a tank, dressy enough for a night out paired with heels and a fabulous top. I recommend bringing at least two pairs of nice dark wash jeans, and two more pairs of your choice. Keep these basic so you can wear them for lots of different occasions.

* 3-6 Basic Tanks – Never underestimate the power of a good basic tank top. It’s the perfect summer top to wear alone during the day or under a cardigan at night. I recommend bringing a bunch of tanks in basic colors: black, white, gray, navy, and brown, plus maybe a couple brighter colors as well.

* 2-4 Basic Tees – I’m also a huge fan of American Apparel‘s basic v-neck tees – you can wear them with everything depending on how you style them up. Basic tees are great for everyday – comfy, casual, and the perfect canvas for all matter of flashy accessories.

* 2-4 Dressy Tops – It’s always good to bring a few fancier tops for those nights out. While this isn’t an absolute essential, I highly recommend it. It’s fun to get dressed up to go out at night, and dressy tops pair well with denim and don’t require much accessorizing. Dressy tops also pair well with shorts and sandals during the day for a chicer take on casual.

* 2-4 Cardigans – In case you aren’t a huge cardigan fan yet, please read Top 5 Reasons You Should Own a Cardigan. Cardigans are PERFECT for summer travel because they’re easy to pack, automatically create tons of new outfits, and are the perfect lightweight layering piece for warm weather.

* 1-2 Light Jackets – Depending on the weather where you’re going, one of these might need to be waterproof. In general, a great spring jacket will be the perfect thing for the occasional chilly summer day. Bring one that will go with most of your wardrobe.

* 1-2 Skirts – Quality knee-length cotton jersey skirts make great casual yet chic outfit options. You can wear them to work, out walking around during the day, or out to dinner at night. I recommend bringing at least one black jersey skirt. If you have extra room, a patterned option will pair well with one of your basic tanks and some jewelry.

* 1-3 Pairs of Shorts – Shorts are always a summer travel staple, and are even more important to bring if you’re going to be doing a lot of hiking or walking. I don’t recommend bringing denim cutoffs – instead go for a chicer option with a pair of cuffed black or khaki shorts. That way, you can dress them up or down and wear them for more occasions.

* 2 Weeks Worth of Underwear – You can get by not washing a pair of jeans for a week or two, but there’s no negotiating when it comes to undies. I’m a fan of bringing as much underwear as possible, as well as a variety of different bras – strapless, racerback, etc. They don’t take up much space in your suitcase and will save you some trips to the laundromat.

* 2-3 Sets of Sleepwear – I’m ALWAYS forgetting to bring PJ’s when I travel and end up sleeping in my underwear or borrowing some from a friend. This is fine if you’re staying in a hotel, but not so cool if it’s a group hostel. Make sure to bring a few pairs of PJ pants or shorts and a few tank tops or tees to wear to bed. 2-3 sets would probably be best.

* 1 Bathing Suit – Swimwear is another summer essential that you’ll need to bring almost anywhere you go. Even if you don’t think you’ll need it, bring a swimsuit – it won’t take up much space in your suitcase and you’ll be happy to have it should the opportunity arise.


Summer Accessories

* 1-2 Pairs Comfortable Sandals – Such a summer essential. Whether it’s a pair of ultra-trendy gladiators or plain old Havaianas, you’ll need a pair of summer sandals for days at the beach. These are great because they’re comfy and don’t take up too much space in your suitcase.

* 1-2 Pairs Ballet Flats – Another year-round shoe essential. I would bring at least one pair of ballet flats because they can be worn with almost anything and are a chic alternative to sneakers.

* 1 Pair Sneakers (if you must) – You guys all know that I’m not a big fan of sneakers. If you have to bring a pair because you’ll be walking a lot or don’t like flats, at least bring a cute pair of Converse All-Stars. Don’t do the running shoes-as-casual-footwear thing unless you’re actually an athlete who will be at practice later. Seriously.

* 1 Large Everyday Bag – You’ll want to bring a large bag that’s big enough to hold your daytime essentials. If you’re traveling abroad, steer clear of tote bags because they’re easy targets for pickpockets. I recommend bringing a large, sturdy, basic black bag that zips closed and isn’t too expensive.

* 1 Small Bag for Night – Bring at least one small chain purse, wristlet purse, or clutch to hold your essentials when you go out at night. Again, don’t bring anything that you couldn’t stand to lose if you’re going abroad or will be in an area that’s unsafe.

* Standout Accessories – Costume jewelry is your best friend during a vacation because it’s the simplest way to dress up a basic outfit. If you’re going abroad, don’t bring expensive or valuable stuff. Instead, stock up on cheap, fun, colorful pieces that can be used to dress up your basic clothes.

* 1-2 Pairs Sunglasses – Protect your eyes from the sun or just disguise tired eyes with a great pair of shades. Don’t bring expensive designer ones abroad, though – they’re too easy to lose and they could get stolen. Stick to the knockoffs when you travel.

* 1 Pair of Fabulous Heels – Because you never know when an opportunity to dress up might present itself. A great pair of high heels can be worn with dark denim, a dress, a skirt, or shorts to add instant glamour. Bring a basic black pair if you want versatility.

Beauty Products

Summer Vacation Beauty Products

* Makeup Essentials – This is different for everyone, but for me it includes – mineral foundation, bronzer, mascara, undereye concealer, 1 or 2 eyeliner pencils, and lipgloss. Try not to bring any makeup you don’t wear regularly and be sure to have a good quality travel makeup bag to hold it all.

* Dry Shampoo – A must-have if you have bleached, dyed, or damaged hair and don’t want to wash it every day – dry shampoo is a lifesaver! Besides, who has time to wash and style their hair every day when they’re traveling? Not me. Invest in a good dry shampoo and your hair will thank you.

* Travel Hair Dryer / Flat Iron – I learned the hard way when I tried to use my $100+ CHI flat iron with a converter in Scotland – converter plugs do NOT always work with hair tools and can often RUIN them, leaving you down $100 and stuck with bad hair for the rest of your trip. To be on the safe side, I recommend purchasing travel-specific hair tools so you don’t risk ruining your good ones.

* Shampoo, Conditioner, etc. – Shower stuff. Pretty obvious one. You can try to buy some of this stuff when you arrive, but if you’re traveling abroad & are partial to certain products, it’s best to bring them with you.

* Sunblock – Need I stress the importance of this one? Buy yourself a good-quality sunblock with SPF 30 or higher and slather it on religiously. Your 40-year-old future self will thank you.


* Cell Phone and Extra Cell Phone Charger – If you’re bringing your normal cell phone on your trip, bring an extra charger in case you lose one. I can’t tell you the number of times people leave their cell phone chargers behind when they travel, especially if they’re staying at multiple places. Just bring an extra and you’ll be glad you did.

* iPod and iPod Charger – Totally essential for long plane rides or car trips. No further explanation needed.

* Camera and Extra Camera Battery – Bring a camera to document your trip! And if you plan on taking lots of pictures, keep an extra charged battery in your purse. You never know when the one in your camera might die and the extra will come in handy.

* Laptop – Depending on where you’re going and what you’ll be doing of course. But personally I never travel anywhere without my Macbook Pro, and I don’t know what I’d do without it! So obviously it made my list.


* Vitamins – Don’t skimp on your health just because you’re traveling. Make sure to bring vitamins with you and remember to take them. Getting sick while you’re on vacation is no fun.

* Towels – Unless you’re staying with friends or at a hotel, the place you’re staying probably won’t provide very good towels. It’s always smart to bring a couple of your own if you have room in your suitcase.

* Sigg Bottle – It’s easy to forget to drink water when you’re traveling, so having a reusable water bottle on hand is a smart option. But plastic water bottles are bad news, so I recommend Sigg‘s aluminum bottles – they’re Earth-friendly , virtually indestructible, and won’t harm your health.

* A Way to Document it All – Whether it’s a journal, a digital camera, pastels and paper, or whatever, keep a record of what you did on your trip! Make the time to do it and you’ll thank yourself later.

Your Thoughts?

You’ve seen my packing list for a summer abroad – now I want to see yours! What would you add to the list? What are your summer vacation essentials? Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Posted on on May 20, 2009 / Filed Under: College Life / Tags: , , , , , , ,

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68 Responses to “What to Pack for a Summer Vacation or Summer Abroad”

  1. 1
    May 20th, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    Thank you so much for this post! I am going to France this summer and was having a bit of a hard time getting travel essentials that I could re-use so I can pack less and that are still chic. I just have a few things to add from my own experience

    1. In France women do NOT wear shorts, you could probably get away with it in a beach town like on the Côte d’Azur, but if you really want to fit in stick with skirts and dresses. Also stay away from short shorts, skirts, dresses no matter wear you are going. They are only “cool” in America and in reality they are just trashy and don’t do anybody any favors.

    2. I have to disagree with the sneakers thing cause you could be walking 5-7 miles a day especially if you are in a city and who wants to walk around with blisters for their whole trip? Look into converse or keds which are lighter than regular athletic sneakers so they are a bit cuter, but really you are there for the sights not to look amazing so suck it up cause you don’t want to spend your whole time limping around.

    3. With the sunglasses make sure you have a case or something hard to protect them. I have broken more sunglasses than I can count in my suitcases and daybags!

    4. One tip for hair dryers, flat irons, etc. don’t pack one at all then just go buy a cheap one when you get to your destination cause then you won’t have to deal with a converter at all.

    5. For the cell phone sometimes it can be cheaper to rent a phone that will give you an international number. I got mine at PicCell:
    They give you free texting and incoming calls are free so you can have your parents, boyfriend, friends call you cause their home phone probably has a better international plan and you won’t be charged. Also if you are traveling in a group these are great for the whole group to get cause calls between PicCell phones are free.

    I think that’s all, amazingly enough, but ya I have been looking into this stuff for a while now in preparation for my trip so you can reap the rewards of my labor! Again thanks for the post!

  2. 2
    May 20th, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    really useful, good post, seems I need a huge bag:)

  3. 3
    May 20th, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    I love this! It’s perfect! I’m always looking for unique buys like this for my blog,!

  4. 4
    May 20th, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    I really second the idea of not bringing sneakers if you’re going to be staying in a place for more than a week…I only brought a pair of running shoes for running when I studied abroad in London. No one wears sneakers and you will feel and look out of place. Instead, invest in a nice pair of flats with supple leather. I had a simple pair of Steve Maddens which were black, not too rigid, and went with everything, whether casual or dressy. With a trench coat, I looked like I belonged (and was asked for directions many times!). But, if it’s a whirlwind vacation, then I suppose there is no avoiding the sneaker…just make it cute.

    Shorts are not really worn in Europe…it’s all about skirts and dresses, which can look just as casual when done right, and are loads more flattering.

    I agree with the hair dryer thing, just buy a cheap one in whichever country you’re going to.

    I brought a blazer to London and was glad I did…it can be casual or fancy and is always a chic choice for a cover up.

  5. 5
    May 20th, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    Oh. My. God. You have impeccable timing! I’m leaving town in a week, and I’ve been frantically looking for a guide like this for days! Thank you so much for posting this. I am eternally grateful :)

  6. 6
    May 21st, 2009 at 12:15 am

    You are amaaaazing as always! I’m going on a roadtrip with my boyfriend in August, and my packing list has kind of been in the back of my mind. We’re also doing some camping, so I know I’ll have to add other stuff to the list, but I don’t want to pack the whole car with my personal luggage!

    A few things to add:
    – band aids and aspirin
    – socks!
    – a little laundry detergent (you can wash socks, tanks, and undies in the sink in a pinch if you’re on the move)

    This is getting me more excited for my trip. Bon voyage, all!

  7. 7
    May 21st, 2009 at 12:54 am

    Outlet converters don’t transfer heat effectively at all, that’s why straighteners, hair dryers, etc won’t work. Save yourself the hassle and just buy one when you get to your destination, but if it doesn’t emit heat, you’re probably safe with a converter.

    Happy Travels!

  8. 8
    May 21st, 2009 at 2:10 am

    this is a wonderful post and super helpful! it would be incredible if you’d do something similar for BUSINESS WARDROBES… i hate dressing up and never know what to do when it comes to putting together summer office internship outfits.

  9. 9
    May 21st, 2009 at 4:13 am

    This. is. brilliant. You’re great, Zeph. Your articles transcend the usual fashion news site articles with helpful graphics, clear cut lists, and a good explaination for everything, while injecting your personality. Don’t change the way you organize these blog entries. I love it! :)

  10. 10
    May 21st, 2009 at 4:20 am

    I always overpack to a crazy extent, so this is really useful. Thanks

  11. 11
    May 21st, 2009 at 5:56 am

    Good timing I’m just about to start packing my suitcase :)
    Also I’m from Europe and shorts are a summer staple!

  12. 12
    May 21st, 2009 at 7:27 am

    I love this article, I’m always looking for these type of articles when I pack but they never work for me like this one does. I’m definitely adding it to my favourites as not this summer but next I’m going to the UK and Italy for a month and will definitely need this then :)

  13. 13
    May 21st, 2009 at 8:31 am

    Fantastic post! I’m always a huge overpacker when I head out of town, which is funny because I’ve lived on planes since I was 4 years old. However, I never got the whole “travel light” thing down, and never knew what the “essentials” were. This post is now bookmarked! Thanks a bunch!

  14. 14
    May 21st, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Ooh, this is great, thank you =D

    But have to say maybe its just in some parts of Europe that shorts aren’t as used .. it seems to be all good here in Scandinavia.

  15. 15
    May 21st, 2009 at 11:09 am

    Hey…. Sneakers are very usefull….. i know they are not the most fabulus wear, i take it your not the type that goes tracking alot, but still….. i mean i was in rome, and all you do is like walk, because everything is so beautyfull, and can only be seen by walking.
    asprin as well, especially if you are going to northern europe, expect hangovers.

  16. 16
    May 21st, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Great advice!

    Bringing along a pair of flipflops for the shower is a must if you’re staying in a hostel or place with shared bathrooms.

    Layering is especially your friend if you’re travelling somewhere that requires you to keep your documents on you at all times and/or where mugging is an issue. A cute cardigan or light jacket makes it much easier to conceal a pain-in-the ass moneybelt/pouch.

    I REALLY do recommend at least considering bringing the cutest pair of sneakers or other sturdy, supportive footwear you can manage, at least as a backup if the cute ballet flats start killing your feet halfway through the trip.

  17. 17
    May 21st, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    I’ve been waiting forever! And I love all the additional girl comments, THANKS SO MUCH! <3

  18. 18
    May 21st, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    amazing post! this might seem kind of obvious, but pack as many basic and unpatterned pieces as possible. they might be more boring, but you can mix and match them to create more outfits. always key, esp. when traveling!

  19. 19
    May 21st, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    As a pretty experienced family vacation traveler, let me just say that the lots of underwear tip and the packing at least one set of clothes in carry-on luggage are the most necessary pieces of advice. You never know when the next wash will be, and luggage can get lost easier than you know. I also carry my basic toiletries in my carry-on, along with socks, underwear, and a pair of bottoms and a shirt or two. It allows you to travel with a bit more peace of mind, knowing you do have something clean to change into if the worst happens.

    Thanks for this! very interesting to read.

  20. 20
    May 21st, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    wow, zephr, this is PERFECT. This is exactly what I needed. I’m going to Greece for the whole summer, and even though i go back to the old country every year, packing has always been a major issue for me, saying that im not the most organized person on the face of the Earth. so thank you so much!! i was already thinking about constructing a packing list like i always do, but i forgot how to do this. this helped me sooooo much.

  21. 21
    May 21st, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    Oh My God! You just saved my life! :]

    I’m traveling to Europe (France, Italy, Greece, Monaco, ect) this summer for a month and I’m like, freaking out on what to bring, shoes, bathing suits, make-up, ect. :] My wardrobe will thank-you for all of your very helpful tips. :]


  22. 22
    May 21st, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    Great post! Really useful! I wish u wrote that before I went to Australia… ;)

  23. 23
    May 22nd, 2009 at 3:59 am

    I worked with locals in muslim Indonesia last summer and Ive got some ideas for travel in conservative countries:

    -knee length kahki was a staple
    – a white button down goes really far
    – a scarf or sarong is a good last minute cover up for head or shoulders
    – bring a postcard of where you live so your new friends can picture it

    THANKS for a fabulous post as usual. i wish id had this post last year.. :)

  24. 24
    May 22nd, 2009 at 4:08 am

    I’m really glad you posted this, because even though my dad has always made us have a basic list for traveling, he’s a guy and doesn’t know the basics for girls. This is so much more helpful than any of his lists have been! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  25. 25
    May 22nd, 2009 at 5:05 am

    OMG can I say thank you. I was thinking about emailing you about this subject.
    You made it so much easier for me to pack all my stuff.
    Love all the tips
    thanks again


  26. 26
    May 22nd, 2009 at 11:36 am

    Zephyr this is SO perfect! I’ve been stressing about packing for a quite a few weeks and these are superb suggestions and I really appreciate all the comments people have been leaving! it’s been confirming a lot of the things my teachers have been telling us (like no shorts wearing in Europe).

    i’m going to forward this article to all the girls traveling with me! Thanks!!


  27. 27
    May 22nd, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    What would you recommend to pack with for a summer camp?
    A suitcase or duffel bag?

  28. 28
    May 22nd, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    What brands of dry shampoo would you recommend?

  29. 29
    May 24th, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    awesome! I’m going to Taiwan for 3 weeks this summer and now I’m super excited cause I know exactly what to pack :D Thanks!

  30. 30
    May 25th, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    Rayna – I’m partial to suitcases with wheels because I have zero upper-body strength to carry a duffel bag around. But a duffel could work for summer camp, especially since wheels don’t work so well on non-asphalt surfaces. It’s really up to you. I’d bring a suitcase, but whatever you’re comfortable with will work fine.

    Doris – Batiste and Samy make good ones that aren’t too expensive. You can get Batiste at most drugstores, and Samy is available at ULTA. Klorane and Oscar Blandi both make good ones too!

  31. 31
    May 26th, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    A couple of comments. I live overseas/travel a lot so hopefully they’re helpful.

    1. I agree with the Europe = No shorts really. Basically in Europe most people dress up everywhere they go and that does not include shorts unless you’re in a Mediterranean climate and in that case they’re usually longer than those you can get at AE or somewhere along those lines. If you’re going anywhere in Africa or Asia you probably shouldn’t wear anything shorter than Bermuda Shorts and even then it may be better to cover you knee.

    2. Check up on customs especially if you’re going to a Muslim country. Things like, using your left hand or pointing directly at someone can be considered very offensive.

    3. Sneakers, if you’re in Europe you’d be fine wearing Pumas or Adidas or converse, but not like, Asics or Nike that look like running shoes. Cobblestone can be hard on your feet.

    4. I have been on 5 flights so far this year and have checked bags each time and none have gotten lost. So don’t be too worried but definitely I agree with keeping one pair of underwear/clothing with you.

    5. Be aware of MONEY. With this crazy economy you really need to keep any eye on the exchange rates. You may want to change a large amount of money at the airport before you leave and have all of that or do it as you go, it’s just something to watch.

    Also, as a side note, Americans are known for being loud in Europe, try to not speak crazy loud or rather just match the environment you’re in. They’ll appreciate it.

  32. 32
    May 26th, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    I usually love your posts, dear Zephyr, however I am kind of confussed you mentioned in your post that women in South America never wear pants. I´ve been there several times (Im Mexican,so I am half South American) and they dress as normal as in the US (I´ve been there several times too) . It is not considered vulgar to wear pants or shorts at all.

    I understand what you meant by the remark, so don´t worry. I just wanted to make a point out of it.

  33. 33
    May 26th, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    Mariana – I definitely didn’t mean to imply that ALL women in South America don’t wear pants at all. I was speaking from my own experience visiting Ecuador – in that country, at least when I was there, most women did not wear jeans or shorts. Dresses and skirts were considered the norm for most women. This may have changed, but from my experience, that was the case in that particular South American country. As I said in the post, obviously the standards of dress will vary from country to country and you should always do your research to find out what they are for the place you’re visiting! I’m sure the dress varies greatly from country to country in South America, as it does in countries across all continents.

  34. 34
    May 26th, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    Where are the rings in your post from? The gold one that looks a bit like a feather/wing and the bronze one with two crosses look very familiar.

  35. 35
    May 27th, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    I love water bottles. I am a believer or water being a very important part of almost everything good you want for your body. I kind of collect them. But every single one I own is made of plastic. So I have to know. Why are they bad news? Thank you. xO

  36. 36
    May 27th, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Great post! I traveled to Europe for 3 weeks once on an 8 country tour. Needless to say I barely unpacked and had to make sure all my stuff could be mixed around–very very important! Totally agree with the cardigans, and last summer I studied in England and my solution to cute yet comfortable flats were these Lacoste ones I found on sale that were athletic-feeling, but were cute enough to wear with skirts, etc. My feet hurt a ton from all the walking, and I brought cute embellished sandals for evening wear when I only went for three weeks. You also end up buying stuff when you’re there usually, so don’t forget you can wear those things. I recommend a fabulous pashmina type scarf that goes with everything (even a cool pattern dresses up every outfit) and you can find those in markets all over. It’s a great alternative to a cardigan for a cool night where you don’t want to wear a cardigan. My tip with jeans is to bring your pairs that don’t stretch out after one wear. And people wore shorts in London, however they were not Hollister type shorts–they were dressier and usually (almost always actually) worn with tights underneath, even the jean shorts I saw a girl wearing at TopShop. Cheeks definitely don’t hang out. That being said, sheer black tights were everywhere and worn with everything. They are lightweight and dress up every outfit. I noticed style wasn’t about trends as much as it was about individual expression and looking/feeling chic. Very classy but interesting at the same time. Kinda like American Apparel mixed with Chanel. We bought a blow-dryer while there, and my friend’s straightener fried so I would buy that too. We found a 10 Pound blow-dryer at the grocery store that worked well enough. Also, my friend’s laptop fried while there, and internet cafes ARE EVERYWHERE in Europe. Those are my two cents having been abroad for 3 and 6 weeks at a time! AND DON’T FORGET PERFUME. I completely forgot some and I felt so incomplete. Overlooking little things like that can be costly (helllooooo exchange rate) and frustrating when you want that extra something to make your outfit.

    BUT I have a question. In your pictures, where is that fabulous special occasion dress from?! I love love love it.

  37. 37
    June 7th, 2009 at 7:02 am

    i live in china. and im going to be returning to my home in the states in a couple of days to visit family. this list helped me soooo much!

    every time i go to the states i over pack. like i literally take half my closet. anyways. i just finished packing (with the help of you). thank you so much! you saved me. i officially love you.

    oh and even though this is for overseas it technically counts for me right?

  38. 38
    June 16th, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    thank you so much for this extreamly helpful post. I am going to UCLA for a 6 week summer program and I didn’t want to forget anything, but i also didn’t want to over pack. This article was exactly what i needed.

  39. 39
    June 29th, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    Thank you SO much for this post. There are almost NO other guides that take fashion into account. :)

  40. 40
    July 1st, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    Thank you so much for this detailed packing list! I’ll be studying abroad in Ireland for a month and couldn’t find any packing lists that were geared towards hip, college-aged women. Your guide provided the perfect solutions to my packing problems. Thanks again!

  41. 41
    July 6th, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    i’m going to barcelona and paris in 2 weeks. THANK YOU FOR THIS POST!!!

  42. 42
    July 12th, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    I’m from the uk and although we often forget that we’re european,we are.And if you’re coming here you can wear shorts,loads of people do but just not that often because its usually two cold to wear them,but if you’re lucky enough to come when its warm,definetly wear them.

  43. 43
    July 26th, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    here’s another tip: get yourself a prepaid TracFone at Wal-Mart or Target for $10 a month w/ no contract. Your calls from over 100 countries to another TracFone at home will be charged as local calls!

  44. 44
    August 23rd, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    Thank you so much for this post! I am going to Italy for the fall and this made packing so much easier. The comments are great too!

  45. 45
    February 14th, 2010 at 2:30 am

    Does a cell phone charger need a converter when you go paris and spain

  46. 46
    March 12th, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    oh gosh, you are a life saver!!! i’ve been planning on my trip to GA for months now and have been planning on what to pack little by little. i’ll be there for 3 months so i’m glad i came across your post. very extremely helpful!! thanks so much! (:

    -Happy Travels everybody!

  47. 47
    April 17th, 2010 at 12:40 am

    I am hoping this list will be updated for this summer if necessary. Great post, although it still seems like a ton of clothing. Thank you.

  48. 48
    May 31st, 2010 at 11:18 am

    Great list but I will personally make one addition if you are considering taking your cell phone – particularly if you are a SmartPhone user. If you are worried about your phone or your company doesn’t offer great international calling rates, you might want to think about picking up an inexpensive, prepaid phone and minutes for your trip. Companies like Net10 have basic phones for $19 that require no contract and give you all the service you need. Their international calling rates is .15 a minute to over 50 countries (many of them in Europe) and all you have to do is sign up and there are no additional contracts. If you aren’t sold, at the end of the summer just terminate the service and no fees follow you. Net10 is a great way to stay in touch on vacaction and avoids the need to hunt down expensive calling cards.

  49. 49
    June 12th, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    im from Scotland, which is in the uk, which is in Europe. We DO wear shorts. You can wear ANYTHING over here, ;)! I’m a teenager and I wear plenty of skirts. Skinny Jeans are also popular over here.

  50. 50
    July 6th, 2010 at 6:57 am

    Thank you very much for this post, it is very useful!

  51. 51
    July 12th, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    Thank you! This post has helped me so much as I pack for my trip to Austria!

  52. 52
    July 30th, 2010 at 5:38 pm


  53. 53
    August 3rd, 2010 at 1:29 am

    I’ll be going to Sweden for my senior year abroad. The whole year. What changes, if any, should I make knowing that I’ll be gone for a year instead of just three months? I’ll have laundry, so I think the main difference will just be the packing for four seasons opposed to one.

  54. 54
    August 11th, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    can i ust say i love you? (;
    I have to seccond the band aids tho && also -SNACKS! if you get to your destination last either on the day you arrive/after a day out and miss the food your gonna wanna eat! trust me my last holiday we needed it at least 3 times in our two week stay ahaha ;)

  55. 55
    August 19th, 2010 at 6:58 am

    Love the post, it was really useful. A few thoughts here. Like a few people mentioned, if you are going to do any walking invest in a good pair of sport sandals, Chaco has some cute ones for women.

    Also take along a sleeping sack at the very least, ya travel blanket mabe too, if you will be staying in hostels and/or cheaper hotels.

  56. 56
    October 3rd, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    Hello! I LOVEE this site so much, all the blogs are incredibly helpful! and i would just like to see if theres a chance you could do a post on what to wear studying/a trip abroad in africa. I know youve done some studying abroad posts before – which i loved – but i just read here :

    “If you’re going anywhere in Africa or Asia you probably shouldn’t wear anything shorter than Bermuda Shorts and even then it may be better to cover you knee.”

    Well i never knew!! i dont want to look slaggy to them !!

    So if theres a chance you could do a post on what to pack for africa i would possibly die! Me and my friend want to go proably a yr – year half from now to a 3 month african trip – with lion cubs and all that jazz!!! and i obviously plan alot in advance lol xox

    Thanks (:

  57. 57
    March 27th, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    That’s only like… my whole wardrobe.

  58. 58
    June 20th, 2011 at 7:52 am

    thanks for the amazing tips , i’ll follow them all :D <3 <3

  59. 59
    July 11th, 2011 at 9:26 am

    I am from britian and I often visit mainland Europe and I am completely unable to understand why people seem to think that we do not wear shorts. We do.

  60. 60
    September 10th, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Well, i live in Denmark(Europe) and we wear shorts, jeans and all kind of pants, so you can definitely wear that!

  61. 61
    November 6th, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Hello, everybody!

    I am from PERU, which is a very varied country because of its different places to visit and multiculturality :)

    If you come hear, just in case, you CAN wear shorts or pants. Everybody does it and it is not considered vulgar at all, so don’t worry about that. In fact, if you are going on a trip to the highlands (like Cusco, to visit Machu Picchu, for example) it is better to wear comfortable clothes that let you move easily, as there are multiple activities to practice there, like trekking, hiking, etc. and they are incredibly exciting and FUN! And this is not only applied to Peru, but to most places in South America where you can practice these activities.

    Of course, in cities you can wear shorts, pants, skirts or dresses, depending on how do you like to dress, and on the season too.

    Summer is from December to March, so if you want to wear a cool dress, skirt or shorts, you should better wear them those months, specially in cities in the coastline, as the weather is warmer and sunnier!

    Thanks for the post, it was really helpful for me, as I’m probably going to Sydney this summer :D

    Hope my advice help you!

  62. 62
    November 27th, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Great post!

    Please consider making a similar post for winter.
    When it’s freezing and raining, comfort beats style. I’d love to find a middle ground. I either walk or use public transport when I travel, so I can’t usually rely on airconditioning.

    Thanks :)

  63. 63
    December 9th, 2011 at 8:11 am

    One essential item missing: a small flashlight, especially for travel in developing nations. I also include a COPY of my passport and/or divers license, in case they are stolen or lost. Underwear: take less… wash it out in the shower. Remember khaki shorts and skirts and slacks. They provide a basic for EVERY T shirt or top you pack. Water shoes that are well made can double as walking shoes. take a flat thin nylon tote and use it as a camera bag. Protect your camera by lining the bag with a t shirt. This replaces a heavy camera bag. I also try to pack clothes that I can leave (donate) when I depart the country I am visiting. Makes the luggage lighter and provides room for some of the things I purchase on the trip.

  64. 64
    December 16th, 2011 at 3:10 am

    thank you for your list and responses! i am heading to australia for 3 months at the end of the year. i’ve asked my friends and family, and they have all had a different response of what to bring and what not to bring. your advice was by far the best! i would have forgotten many things had it not been for you…thanks!

  65. 65
    February 2nd, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    i know this is an old post, but still… in which south american countries do women not wear pants? i am south american (from chile actually) and i have to say that is not true. just a little detail. thank you for the article.

  66. 66
    March 15th, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    I don’t have much to say exept,

    Thank you so much for this, you have saved me a ton of research, i really respect you trying to help others, now my two month trip will be much easier to go through!

    Once again THANK YOU !!!!!! ;)

  67. 67
    July 21st, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    I’m from Israel,

    and I can strongly recommend taking shorts and the thinnest fabric tops you can find, because in June-September it’s SO hot, and you won’t want to wear anything heavier.

    Take with you one Pashmina scarf, and one under the knee skirt if you plan to visit any holy places, although in my opinion, it’s better to buy one in a nearby market, and you’ll ALWAYS find a market near holy sites, and then you can say that this cute skirt is from Israel :)

  68. 68
    June 13th, 2013 at 8:15 pm

    Thank you! There are not many sites with tips for packing for an entire summer away! I will take many of these basics and finally start packing now! (I leave in less than 2 weeks!!) Hope all your travels are safe and fun! Tschuss! Ciao! Bye!

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