Hailey's Guide to Overpowering Your Inner Overpacker Before Studying Abroad

Hailey Neumann headshot
Hailey Neumann
January 15, 2024
This is all the clothes I had pulled form my closet that I wanted to bring to study abroad after completing Step 1 in my guide and partially completing step 2.

Hi guys! My name’s Hailey and I’m 1 week away from starting my study abroad journey in Vienna with IES Abroad! If you need to know one thing about me it’s that I always have been(and probably always will be) an overpacker. So obviously the thought of trying to pack four months of clothes (with very different seasons happening within those four months) was more than a little daunting. Fortunately with a good organizational system and a bigger suitcase, I think I figured out my perfect packing method. So I’m going to share it with you today and hopefully it helps you whether you’re packing for a full year abroad or even just a weekend away!

1. List It Out

Whether you write them on paper or in your notes app, you should always start with a list! I usually come up with a list of the items of clothing and toiletries I know I’ll need, then go through and come up with a quantity for each item. Some items on my list included 3 pairs of jeans, 3 pairs of leggings, 2 pairs of jean shorts, 1 pair of athletic shorts, 2 sweatshirts, 10 tank tops (I’m big on using them as layers), 4 sweatshirts, 2 pairs of fuzzy socks, etc. 

2. Pack It Out

This step is only something I do for long trips, for a weekend at the cabin or even two weeks in Hawaii I didn’t feel like it was necessary, but obviously packing for 4 months in Europe is a little different. So I took my carry-on suitcase(which I later decided not to bring) and my suitcase to be checked and laid all of my clothes out as you can see in the picture above. 

I always roll my jeans, sweatpants, and sweatshirts because that’s how they condense to the smallest they can be. For things like my linen pants I prefer to fold them and lay them on top of my other clothes because it reduces the creases in them and doesn’t really make a difference in size.

Then I packed everything as tightly as possible and put it all together in my suitcase, like a game of tetris but with a much bigger consequence. About halfway through packing I knew I’d need another suitcase, my carry-on just wasn’t going to cut it. So because I didn’t want to find space for and lug around three different suitcases, I’m choosing to instead take two checked bags, use a small duffel as my carry-on, and my backpack as my personal item. It’s really important to check the dimension requirements for your airline’s carry-on and personal item sizes!!! I know multiple airlines have recently changed their sizing so taking a quick look definitely won’t hurt. 

But even an extra suitcase wasn’t going to help me out enough with space. I planned to leave at least part of my suitcase open for anything I buy while I’m in Vienna. So I took a look at everything I wanted to bring and took out what I realized I don’t really need. Below is a picture of what I added and what I took out. I took out a summer dress that I really like, but don’t need, a pair of jean shorts (because I read a couple different articles that said European’s don’t usually wear jean shorts unless they’re on Holiday), and a couple sweaters. Instead, I added in a sweatshirt, a pair of athletic shorts, an extra layer for under other shirts, and a few other miscellaneous things. When analyzing what I wanted to take out and what I wanted to add in, I looked at my clothes in four different categories: 1. The basics I need (starting with socks and underwear, the basics of my wardrobe like leggings and long sleeves and tank tops, etc). 2. The clothes I love and knew I wouldn’t want to leave behind (my favorite sweatshirt and quarter zip, a pretty green dress, and my favorite pair of sweatpants). 3. The clothes that overlapped in those two categories(jeans, a couple pairs of pants, my favorite pajamas, and a couple different layers like blazers and sweaters). And 4. The things that didn’t fit into any of the first three categories. When I looked at that fourth category I realized there were a couple items that I would likely only wear a couple times, some that I could easily buy abroad (like a plain white t-shirt), and some that were types of clothes I’d heard european’s don’t normally wear (my jean shirts) so I downsized there and kept only what I really wanted to.

I won’t really touch on bathroom supplies because it’s going to vary for every person, but for me I chose to bring only the basics things that would either be too expensive to buy abroad or things that I use every single day at home. For my toiletries I brought travel sizes of everything that I’m not too picky about, aka my shampoo and conditioner, body wash, face wash, lotions, hair spray, and dry shampoo. It’s all about personal preferenceif you have a reallllllllly specific shampoo and conditioner you like to use and it can’t be brought abroad then bring it but it’s just easiest for me to pick something up at a shop in Vienna.

3. Plan It Out

This last one is definitely going to be the most time consuming part, but for me it’s definitely worth it! I listed out every item that I’m bringing so when I officially pack before my trip I have exactly what I planned the space for. I know that if I didn’t do this I’d forget a few things, maybe replace them with some others, only to get there and want to wear certain clothes only to realize I’d left them at home! This way I know exactly what I want to bring, but don’t have to worry about keeping it all separate from the rest of my clothes in the next week!

So that’s it, my Official Guide to Overpowering Your Inner Overpacker. I know it seems like a lot of effort, but if you’re anything like me, the reward is definitely going to be worth the work!


As the great Regina George once *almost* said,

“Get in loser, we’re going to Vienna!”

-Hailey Neumann

Check out my Instagram for updates on my travels

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Hailey Neumann

Hi guys! I'm a Junior at St Thomas(MN) and a dual citizen of the US and Luxembourg! I love to travel and learn the history of the places I go, and if I'm not outside with my dogs, you'll probably find me in a corner with a rom-com book or movie.

2024 Spring
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