Packing Essentials for Amsterdam!

Headshot of Rachel Alliker.
Rachel Alliker
March 10, 2023

Packing Essentials for Amsterdam! 

By Rachel Alliker 

It’s been a little over a month since I got to Amsterdam, and one of the most difficult parts of preparing for study abroad was organizing what I would need to pack! IES Abroad warns against overpacking and it’s true—there is limited space in your suitcase and your living accommodations. 

Here are things I recommend packing which includes I packed and tips I would have given my past self! 

Links are also included below. 

  • Don’t overpack 
    • As hard as it seems, it is so important not to overpack. Most airlines have baggage weight limits of 50 lbs. I spent the night before I left unpacking and repacking my suitcase trying to adjust the weight. The most important thing is bringing clothes that you can easily mix and match. Yes, it’s possible that you get sick of your clothes, but you can stop at Zara, Primark, H&M, or thrift clothes that you need or want for a reasonable price.  
      • Airlines also charge extra when you bring an additional suitcase to your carry on and checked bag! 
  • Good walking shoes 
    • Good walking shoes are NECESSARY! The first week I was here I walked 40+ miles exploring the city! These walking shoes will be important whether you’re biking around the city, getting to know your new neighborhood, and walking all over Amsterdam.  
  • Layering clothing 
    • It gets chilly here in Amsterdam in the winter! Layering clothes is not only better for keeping you warmer, but ensures that you have clothes that will work for multiple occasions. 
  • Warm packable jacket for all types of weather
    • Bringing a warm jacket that can condense into a smaller size has definitely been one of the most important things I brought with me to Amsterdam. While I would have loved to have a longer jacket, my one at home was so bulky which would have taken up a lot of room. My jacket is warm and is the perfect thickness. 
  • Umbrella
    • Something that I almost forgot was an umbrella! Pack a small one that can fit in your backpack so you have it during a surprise drizzle. 
  • Windbreaker/lighter jacket 
    • The weather will shift in the spring to be a lot warmer and you’ll want something else a little lighter!  
  • Scarf/hat 
    • Scarves are very trendy here in Amsterdam! Walking down the street you’ll see tons of people rocking their color-block thick scarves. They sell these scarves all over Amsterdam—I got mine for 10 euros at Albert Cuypmarkt which is one of the most famous markets in Amsterdam. 
  • Adapters/Power strip
    • A necessity! Europe uses a different type of plug for electronics to charge devices. You can purchase a pack of European adapters for your US technology online and you can also get a multi-adapter so you can plug multiple devices into one outlet. Lastly, I’ve noticed that there aren’t as many plugs in my apartment specifically so having a power strip with a European wall plug with American charging outlets on the strip itself was something I wish I brought.  
  • Toiletries
    • It is difficult to get some name-brand toiletries that you might use daily in the US. You can find almost anything you need at an Etos (which is similar to CVS/Walgreens—however, you can’t pick up prescriptions here!) It is also important to bring ANY medications that you use at home because some medications aren’t accessible in Europe. 
  • Boots
    • Boots are also a common fashion statement in the Netherlands and bringing my Chelsea boots has been one of the best things I’ve packed! 
  • Thin hangers
    • My apartment only provided a few hangers so slipping a few thin hangers in the back of your suitcase is important if you are planning on bringing clothes that need to be hung up.  
  • Duffels over rollers 
    • Managing suitcases or duffel bags can be extremely challenging and hard to carry! Duffels or suitcases on rollers are key to saving yourself a lot of back pain and are easier to manage! 
  • Extra bag for dirty clothes 
    • Pack a laundry bag as you need a place to store your dirty clothes. A typical laundry bag or even a pillowcase will do the trick!  
  • Travel backpack
    • I ordered a travel backpack from Amazon a few weeks ago and it was invaluable when traveling—there are many kinds of backpacks online but I like that mine includes a shoe compartment as well as a built-in charger. 

Hope these recommendations help with your packing for study abroad! Even though some of these items are specific to Amsterdam, they can be adjusted to your respective study abroad locations. 

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Headshot of Rachel Alliker.

Rachel Alliker

Hi! My name is Rachel Alliker and I am a Junior Psychology major and Spanish and Honors Forum double minor at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY! I am from Greenwich, CT and I’m excited to be studying abroad in Amsterdam with IES (Spring 2023). At Skidmore, I am one of the head tour guides, a Writing Center tutor, a sustainability office volunteer. I’m also a part of the Positive Psychology Lab and Co-Vice President of the Honors Forum. Outside of academics, I love to bake, read, spend time with my friends and my dogs.

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