Countdown: 10 days; Trying to fit 4 months in 2 suitcases

10 DAYS?! The countdown has finally come down to my two hands. The days are starting to go by so quickly as we enter the final stretch. I’m in the phase of final purchases, packing lists, and talking to friends who studied abroad previously all to prepare for my upcoming trip. Here’s my current packing list and to-do lists, a cumulation of the list provided by DIS, lists from previous bloggers, and advice from friends who have traveled abroad previously!

Carry-on

I will be bringing 2 carry-on bags with me, one backpack and one duffle that I hope to use for weekend trips while abroad!

  • Face masks (my airline (SAS) requires me to wear a n95 or kn95 mask while on the flight)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Sanitizing wipes
  • Documents (which I will store in this cute little document holder)
    • Passport
    • Legal Entry Documents from DIS
    • COVID Vaccination card 
    • Personal health insurance card
    • Student ID card from home university
    • Printed flight itinerary
    • Printed copy of your housing address abroad
    • DIS address (in case of luggage delay)
    • DIS recommends having 2 copies of these documents as well (one copy to take with you and one copy to leave home)
  • Prescription Medication with note from doctor
  • Laptop
    • Laptop Charger
  • Phone charger
  • Electrical adapters
  • Advil 
  • Band-aids
  • Sunglasses 
  • Travel pillow
  • Journal 
  • Apple watch 
    • Apple watch charger 
  • Airpods
  • Headphones 
  • Portable charger 

Checked Luggage

I will also be bringing 2 checked bags, even though DIS recommends only bringing one. I know that I will end up accumulating lots of goodies over my trip and I want to make sure I have enough room to bring all this stuff back at the end of my trip! The goal is to have these two suitcases lightly packed on the way there, but to have enough room for extra stuff on the way back. I also plan on using vacuum seal bags to pack as concisely as possible. Although they won’t help my luggage stay within weight requirements, these bags can be a huge help when packing comfy sweaters or winter jackets. (p.s. if you plan on using these bags make sure to pack the pump that comes with them for your return home!)

  • Under-ware
    • Underwear
    • Bras
    • Socks 
  • PJs
  • 1 Professional outfit
  • Shirts 
    • Sweaters 
    • Nicer short sleeve shirts 
    • Nicer long sleeve shirts
    • Turtleneck/shirts for layering 
    • Casual shirts
  • Sweatshirts 
  • Dresses/skirts 
  • Pants 
    • Jeans
    • Sweatpants 
    • Leggings (for layering)
    • Snow pants
  • Jackets
    • Winter jacket
    • Wool jacket 
    • Leather jacket 
  • Shoes
    • White boots
    • Shower shoes (flip flops)
    • Birks
  • Bathing Suit
  • Accessories 
    • Jewelry
    • Gloves 
    • Winter hat 
    • Scarf 
    • Belts 
  • Toiletries (just enough to get me through 2 weeks or so, I’ll by more when I get to Copenhagen)
    • Toothbrush
    • Toothpaste
    • Shampoo
    • Conditioner
    • Face wash 
    • Moisturizer
    • Contacts & solution 
    • Makeup remover 
    • Razor 
    • Perfume 
    • Deodorant
    • Femine hygiene 
    • Hair brush 
    • Soap 
  • Slippers 
  • Umbrella or raincoat
  • Crossbody bag for travel
  • Small gift for Visiting Host family
  • Travel blanket for any not-so-perfect hostels I come across
  • Some little decorations to remind me of home
  • Small first aid kit
    • Over the counter medications (DIS tells us that the normal over-the-counter medications you may find here in the US are not as easily accessible in Europe)
    • Flashlight 
    • Thermometer
  • Luggage Scale (to avoid all of those nasty fees!)

What to Leave at Home  

  • Copies of your… for family 
    • Passport
    • Credit cards
    • Copenhagen housing address
    • Flight itinerary
    • DIS phone numbers
  • Anything of great personal or financial value that is irreplaceable 
  • Books/materials (provided by DIS)
  • Bedding & towels (provided by DIS)
  • Kitchenware (provided by DIS)
  • Toiletries (can be bought in Copenhagen)
  • Clothes hangers 
  • Curling irons, hair dryers, straighteners, etc (even with an electrical converter, these items often won’t work while abroad. I remember on my trip to Italy in 2017 my roommates and I accidentally blew out a US hair straightener!)

Things to do Before Abroad

This is the section of this post that I personally feel might be the most helpful when planning for your own semester abroad. There are so many tiny things to remember, so here’s a list of some of the tasks I’ve done over the past month or so to prepare for my trip!

Cell Phone

  • Decide what phone plan you plan on using
    • DIS talks about this in the planning modules but it’s definitely important to look into early on. Basically your options are to either 1) keep your US phone plan and pay whatever international fees may apply (make sure you call your phone carrier so you’re aware of what you will be paying before you leave) or 2) use the DIS recommended Lebara plan (which is what I will be doing). Lebara is a provider from Denmark that will give you a new SIM card (and therefore new phone number) to use during your time abroad. When talking to some of my friends who previously studied abroad, they recommended the Lebara plan as some of their friends who kept their US plans had consistent connection issues when traveling through Europe. Lebara has numerous different plans for what will best fit your needs, and I’ll make sure to update this list when I chose a plan for myself!
    • I’m going to use the Lebara plan for the majority of the time I’m away but I am fully prepared to use my Verizon plan for 2 or 3 days (its $10 a day on top of what I already pay) until I get my new SIM card working. This way I can still contact home at any time during those first few days while I get settled in with the Lebara plan.
  • Unlock your phone to work with a new sim card
    • This being said, if you choose to use the Lebara plan you have to make sure your phone will allow you to use the new SIM card in it. To do this you must call your phone provider and make sure that your phone is unlocked. If your phone still has payments left on it, the provider may not unlock it for you. In this case some of my peers are planning on bringing 2 phones, their normal phone to use when connected to Wifi and an old phone with the Lebara SIM card to use for Danish calls.
  • I set up GroupMe on my phone and my parents phones, this way incase anything goes wrong when I arrive in Copenhagen and try to use the new SIM card I will still have some way to contact them and let them know I’m alive. I additionally can access GroupMe on my iPad incase I lose my phone.
  • You can find more on cell phone usage in Denmark on the DIS website here.

Credit/Debit Cards

  • Check your credit and debit cards for unnecessary/unwanted fees
    • So I did this and discovered that both my credit and debit cards have international fees of about 2 or 3% for every time I use them abroad. To avoid having these fees add up while I’m away, I applied for the Bank of America Travel Rewards Credit Card for Students. It has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and it was relatively easy to apply and get approved for!
  • Tell your credit card companies you are going abroad
    • Although I hope not to use my regular cards too often (to avoid the fees!) I want to make sure I will be able to use them if I need to.  
  • Make sure you have pins (and that you know what they are!) on all debit/credit cards
    • Highly recommended for when using cards in Europe!
  • You can find more information on using credit/debit card in Denmark on the DIS website here.

Prescription Medication

  • Make sure your prescription medication is LEGAL in Denmark
    • This may sound funny at first, but I’m totally serious. European relations with medication are very different than in the US and the medications you take on a daily basis may be illegal abroad.
  • Try to get enough of your medication to keep you supplied for the entire duration of your trip
    • Medication (especially illegal medication) cannot be shipped from the US to Denmark so talk to your health care and insurance providers to get an early fill of any medications to last you through your abroad trip.
  • Carry any and all prescription medication in your carry-on luggage in its original container and accompanied with a doctor’s note listing the medication and why you are taking it.
  • You can find more information on medication in Denmark on the DIS website here.

Luggage

  • As I previously stated, I’m planning on bringing 2 checked luggage and 2 carry on bags (1 backpack and 1 duffle). Make sure you check your plane ticket to see how many bags you paid for, and if you want to purchase more bags do it ahead of time as these prices are likely to be much higher at the airport day of.
  • Check with your airline for the weight and size requirements for checked bags.
    • Remember that new suitcase I talked about in my previous post? Well according to SAS, which is the airline I am flying, it is too large. So now it’s time to go find a new one!

COVID-19

  • Hopefully by the time someone is reading this, COVID-19 is no longer a significant issue. However, since a year ago I didn’t think it would be a significant issue for my abroad trip in 2022, and yet it is, here are some tips I’ve accumulated.
  • Make sure you have some n95 or kn95 masks.
    • Certain airlines (including SAS) will only let you travel with these higher level masks, instead of the cloth masks often worn in public in the US.
  • Check the entry requirements for Denmark AS WELL AS any countries you may have a layover in (if you don’t have a direct flight).
    • This can be a bit tricky since these requirements can change literally at any moment. Currently, to enter Denmark you must have a negative PCR test from within 72 hours of ARRIVAL into Denmark (not 72 hours before your plane takes off, this is important to take into consideration when scheduling your test) or a positive test from more than 14 days but less than 180 days before arrival.
    • Some important things to take into consideration when scheduling your testing appointment is what type of test you need (usually PCR is required), the turn around time for your testing location (I’ve found that my local urgent care will get results back in 48 hours tops), and the time of your test in relation to your arrival time (not take off time).
    • Additionally, if you have any layovers in other countries before arriving in Denmark, make sure you check up on their COVID-19 entry requirements as well.
  • Make sure you are up to date on any vaccines.
    • You never know when the vaccine requirements might change in Europe (you might need X number of dosages in order to enter public places) so it’s easiest to just make sure you have the most recent availability before you leave. Although some booster might not be required at the time of your departure, you never know when requirements will change, and it will definitely provide you with some comfort knowing you’re as up to date as possible when you leave your home country!

I hope these lists can provide some help or comfort for future students preparing for their own abroad trips. I will definitely make sure to update this list after my trip to talk about what I did and didn’t need, but for now, it’s time to get packing!

One thought on “Countdown: 10 days; Trying to fit 4 months in 2 suitcases

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: