The Ultimate Moving Abroad Packing List (+ Checklist)

Whether you’re going to study abroad, move abroad for work or travel long-term (for example, with a Working Holiday Visa), you’ll need this complete list to pack everything you need to take with you.

When I studied abroad a few years ago, I had no idea what to pack. Thankfully, I prepared by researching and I documented what I took with me. This time, I’ll be moving abroad permanently and I’ll use most items of the same list again.

Both times when I moved abroad, I’ve traveled with just one checked suitcase and one or two carry-on bags. If you’re flying with strict baggage restrictions, keep my advised amounts in mind. I use vacuum space saver bags to fit more clothes in less space, but I’ve also seen people use these roll-up bags if they have no access to a vacuum.

Of course, you can customize this list to your needs. I am a solo female expat, so you will definitely need more items if you’re moving abroad with a family. For your convenience, I’ve made this list an actual checklist with checkable checkboxes. Find down below the things I’ll be taking abroad with me – and you should too!

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I only need one checked bag and a carry on to pack my life into.

What to pack in your carry-on bag

 Passport – or ID, if you don’t need a passport to travel to or within your new country.

 Visa

 Boarding pass

Debit and credit card

Insurance card

Don’t forget to get adequate health and travel insurance before you leave. Make sure that your insurance covers your new country and the travels you plan to do while abroad.

 If you’re a student: student card or school ID

 Digital and physical copies of important documents – passport or ID, visa, bank cards, insurance card and birth certificate.

 Phone and charger

I also took a cheap simple second phone with me just for texts and calls in case I would go somewhere questionable. Thankfully, I never had to use it. However, I’ll take it with me again on my next move. Better safe than sorry!

 Laptop or tablet and charger

 Camera, accessories and charger – I use a GoPro to take videos and my iPhone to take photos.

 Portable Bluetooth speaker – I bought this waterproof one a while ago and love it!

 eReader – I used to take books on my travels, but having an eReader is so much more convenient. Mine is waterproof, so I can safely keep reading while taking baths or when I’m at the pool or beach.

 Portable charger

 Travel adapter

You should get a travel adapter in case you’re traveling somewhere with a differently shaped outlet. If the voltage is different in your new country, you should also get a voltage converter so you don’t fry your electronics. You often won’t need a voltage converter for USB-charged electronics, like your phone and even some laptops.

 Headphones

 Eye mask and earplugs

 Cash in the currency of your destination

 One or two spare outfits – in case your checked baggage gets lost, so you won’t have to go shopping while waiting for your baggage to get sent to your new home.

Toiletry bag with your must-have makeup and moisturizer – keep restrictions on liquids in mind.

 Prescription medications and birth control

When you’re temporarily moving abroad, make sure to pack enough for your whole semester or year abroad. When moving abroad permanently, make sure to check how accessible your needed medication is in your new country and anticipate for that. 

Glasses and case

 Contacts and contact solution

 Reusable water bottle – I have used my red Dopper for years. It is BPA and phthalate free, dishwasher safe and the cap can turn into a convenient cup.

 Snacks

 Fleece lined slipper socks – I like to wear these on long flights.

 Luggage scale

What to wear on your flight

I’ll fly in winter, which is very convenient since I’ll be able to wear my warmest (and heaviest!) clothes on the flight. This saves a lot of space you’d use when traveling in summer and packing for the upcoming winter.

 Winter coat

 Workout leggings

 Sweater

 Tank top

 Sneakers

 A purse with my travel documents and personal electronics

What to pack in your checked baggage

The types and amount of clothes you’ll bring abroad will depend heavily on the climate of the country and time of year you will be moving abroad. Both of my moves abroad are to countries with a warm and dry climate with mild winters. For this reason, I’ll leave or sell most of the winter clothes I have. If the weather abroad surprises me, I can always get a new coat or more sweaters. The amounts that are specified below, are most suitable for a permanent move.

Clothes

 Dresses – I’ll take 5, which all could be dressed up or down.

 Playsuits – 2

 Jeans – 4, in different washes.

 Pants – 3: one paper bag pair, one culotte pair and a pair of flared pants.

 Skirt – 1 midi length skirt.

 Shorts – 2 pairs

 Longsleeve shirts – 4

 Tees – 4

 Tank tops – 2

 Sweaters – 3

 Cardigan – 1

 Fake fur vest – 1

 Jackets – 3: 1 water-resistant jacket, 1 denim jacket and 1 leather jacket.

 Pajamas – 2 pairs

 Underwear and socks – enough for two weeks.

 Swimwear – 4 bikini sets.

 Bras – 7 regular bras and 1 sports bra.

 Workout leggings – 4 pairs

 Workout tops – 3

 Crop tops – 4. I use these as workout tops on hikes.

Shoes

 Sneakers – 1 pair. I’ll be wearing another pair on the flight.

 Flats – 2 pairs

 Sandals – 1 pair

 Heels – 2 pairs. I only take heels that are comfortable enough to be interchangeable with flats.

 Flip flops – 1 pair

 Ankle booties – 2 pairs

 Athletic shoes – one pair specifically for working out indoors.

Accessories

 A few simple earrings – I don’t take jewelry of high value unless I wear it day and night on me.

 Small crossbody bags – 2. I’d advise on bringing a small backpack as well, but since I don’t have that yet, I’ll buy it abroad.

 Scarf – a thick one for winter, that could also be used as a cover-up in fall or spring.

Toiletries

Makeup

 Microfibre makeup remover cloths – or cotton swabs and makeup remover lotion if you prefer to use those.

Toothbrush and toothpaste

 Travel size body wash – I took full-size bottles of hair products when I studied abroad since I have curly hair and I couldn’t buy the specific products I needed abroad. On my next move abroad, I’ll just buy them when I get to my new country since it’s readily available there.

 Brush and comb

Hair ties

Bobby pins

Razors

Feminine hygiene products – confirm whether they sell your preferred products in your new country. If they don’t, be sure to stock up or prepare for the change.

Nail clipper

Sunscreen – I only take this with me if it’s expensive abroad. Otherwise, I’ll buy it once I get to my destination.

This list helped me pack everything on my move abroad. Please share this list with friends if it helped you too and let us know in the comments!

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