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How to Pack for Three Months Abroad

How to Pack for Three Months Abroad

Wow, I guess I didn’t plan to be writing this post on my first flight from Raleigh to Chicago. It’s odd, and even frightening, to say that my gap year has officially begun. I wish I could say that the goodbyes were easy, but many tears were shed. I’ll have a whole blog post up on that soon. Today, though, we are here to talk about packing. Yes, that dreaded task that must be completed to travel. To make matters more complicated, we are packing for THREE MONTHS. ABROAD. Lucky for you guys, I’m quite the packing master. Maybe it’s because I’m incredibly organized, or maybe it’s because I’m a preparation freak. Either way, I’m here to bring you some of my top packing tips as well as a run-down of how I packed for three months in Xi’an, China.

tips and tricks

tip number one: pack a capsule wardrobe

If I could recommend one thing for my stylish readers who plan to travel, it would be to use a capsule wardrobe. While this has become popular in the world of minimalism, I highly suggest utilizing this method for travel. For those of you who don’t know, a capsule wardrobe uses a few basic clothing pieces in the same color scheme to create many outfits. For instance, I am bringing many basic t-shirts in black, write, and gray, as well as basic bottoms that fit this color scheme. Along with this, I am bringing a few fun sweaters and tops that also fit this theme. With this system, I will be able to create so many outfits with few pieces. By doing this, you are insuring that everything in your wardrobe matches while also saving valuable luggage space.

tip number two: do your research

If you read my post about gap year planning, then you already are familiar with this tip! Always be sure to research the weather, climate, and customs of the place that you are going. For instance, I am opting for a warmer wardrobe (for the chilly Autumn season in Xi’an) that is also fairly modest (as is typical in the area I will be working in.) As I have already done this research, I feel confident and assured that I am prepared!

tip number three: park in compartments

This is SUCH a helpful tip and it helped me greatly when packing for my trip. Invest in packing bags and vacuum-sealing bags for your trip. You do not want to have any loose items in your suitcase if possible. As you will see in my packing video above, I opted to put most of my clothes into packing bags from REI and then put my bulkier items into vacuum-sealing bags to save room. This also doubles as organization, as you will know what is in every compartment.

tip four: ditch the carry on (if you can)

While this is an unpopular opinion, I actually hate carry ons. When I went to China last December, lugging around my carry on was one of my biggest hassles. I prefer to only have checked bags and a backpack as my personal item when traveling. However, if you are tight on space in your suitcase and must take a carry on, that’s okay too. I just recommend avoiding the extra baggage.

what I packed


  • 4 nicer tops (collared shirts, blouses, etc)

  • 2 basic white tees

  • 2 basic black tees

  • 2 basic gray tees

  • 1 black and 1 white turtleneck shirts

  • 3 sweaters

  • 1 long sleeve shirt

  • 1 striped tee


  • dress pants

  • 2 pair of skinny jeans

  • 2 pairs of baggier pants or mom jeans

  • 1 pair of black denim

  • 1 skirt for going out

  • 1 long dress 


  • 1 pair of sweats

  • 3 pairs of pj bottoms

  • 6 t-shirts (can be worn in public or as pj tops! double duty)


  • 16 pairs of undies (ALWAYS bring more than you need)

  • 6 bralettes (I hate real bras so I always opt for a bralette)

  • 1 strapless bra

  • 1 sports bra

  • 1 real bra (ugh)

  • 8 pairs of short socks

  • 2 pairs of warm, long socks

  • 1 pair of ultra-warm leggings

  • 1 bathing suit (just in case)


  • 1 jean jacket

  • 1 puffy, warm jacket

  • 1 blazer

  • 1 raincoat

  • 2 sweatshirts (bring one on plane)


  • 1 pair of chacos (they are great travel shoes and can double as shower shoes)

  • 1 pair of athletic sneakers (I packed my nite joggers)

  • 1 pair of stylish sneakers (I, of course, went with air force ones)


  • 1 warm hat and a pair of gloves

  • 1 fanny pack (wear this when traveling to hold important documents!)

  • 1 purse

  • 2 pairs of sunglasses

  • normal glasses (2 pairs if you have them)

  • 1 eye mask for sleeping

  • 1 watch 


  • contacts and solution

  • face wash and toner

  • cotton pads and q-tip

  • acne cream 

  • toothbrush and toothpaste

  • chapstick

  • face moisturizer

  • body lotion

  • hair ties

  • deodorant (SO important!)

  • soap (I recommend bar soap. It travels better)

  • shaving cream and a razor

  • shampoo and conditioner

  • towels!

  • 1 small rollerball perfume

  • light, everyday makeup (for me, this consists of eyebrow pomade, concealer, lip gloss, and mascara, but feel free to bring more!)

  • makeup remover

  • hairbrush

  • tampons and pads (tampons are hard to come by in China, so stock up!

  • medicines (be sure to stock up before traveling!!)

  • toilet paper (a must if traveling to China. Have some on you as well for the airport bathrooms)

  • hand sanitizer

  • nail clippers and tweezers

  • bug spray and sunscreen

  • shower cap

  • wrinkle removing spray for your clothes

  • “life” and travel tools:

  • extra pillowcase

  • first aid kit

  • carabiners

  • travel power adapter

  • filtering water bottle (tap water isn’t safe to drink in China)

  • twist ties to hold chargers

  • combination locks

  • scissors

  • copies of important documents (passport, insurance card, drivers license, birth certificate, flight confirmations, etc)

  • cash

to go on the plane with you:

  • 1 big, sturdy backpack (mine is from North Face)

  • laptop and charger

  • phone and charger

  • portable charger

  • vlog camera and charger 

  • pens and highlighters

  • headphones

  • journals and planners

  • a good book (I brought David Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty One Day for my flight over)

  • passport and wallet

  • eye mask

  • neck pillow (I use an inflatable one to save space)

  • medicine and melatonin dummies (I love my olly gummies)

  • a change of clothes and a clear bag with a mini deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, cleansing wipes, makeup wipes, and hand sanitizer

  • 1 stuffed animal (yes, I am eighteen and still find comfort in stuffed animals. I hate flying, okay?)

I hope you guys found this post helpful and I’ll talk to you guys next time!

Bon Voyage!


An Early Halloween

An Early Halloween