By: Katie Greenthal (BU AEΦ) Sam Stern (BU ΔΓ) Meagan Fleishman (BU AEΦ) Skylar Shapiro (BU ΔΓ) Jenna Lerner (BU ΣΔT) Katie Foy (Providence College) Stephanie Thierer (BU ΔΣΠ)
The Abroad Bible is a compilation of lists that we compiled the semester before going abroad to London, England. This list will get you ready for your trip abroad. The Abroad Bible contains comments from students from many schools. Get ready and happy traveling!
GOOD TO KNOW
● Student Visa etc: Get your visa early. You have to fill out a lot of paperwork which you will get directly from your school's Programs Office, but you should fill it out as soon as you get it and mail it in. It is a steep price, but there is no way around it. You also have to set up a biometrics appointment to get fingerprinted. Don’t wait until the last second to do it because it is just annoying. Sign up for Global Entry, Clear and Mobile Passport.
● Books, Sites, and Apps: Frommer’s, Ricks Steve Guide, Lets Go (Europe and whichever country or city you go abroad -these are by students, so they cater to a student budget), Europe by Eurail, Kayak, Hopper, Uber, City Mapper, and XE Currency.
● Cell phones: Either rent one when you get abroad (your program will probably help with that) or bring an old one that you can put a sim card into. If you get a sim card abroad make sure you unlock your phone before leaving the U.S. Many plans have free incoming calls and text messaging is cheap but to dial out of the country is expensive. Call your provider and make sure you are on an international plan.
● Bring converters and adapters - buy a few because they will get lost and you will need them.
○ I would bring at least one if not two of each of the following:
■ An adaptor for things to go from 3 prongs to 2 prongs. An adaptor for the US plugs to the UK
■ An adaptor for the US plugs to Europe
■ A converter for the UK to US voltage
■ A surge protector strip
● Money: It is costly to withdraw money from a cash machine that is not your bank. Either find a bank that doesn’t charge those fees (or reimburses you account-First Republic Bank does) or get a bank card from the U.S that also has a branch where you are studying. Make sure they have lots of branches and in convenient locations. (Ie: London is Bank of Americas/Barclays, Spain would be CITIBANK).
○ Banks in Euro have different hours (in Spain they close at 2) so be organized about exchanging money and stuff.
● Clothing: USE THE PACKPOINT APP! Packpoint will organize what you need to pack based on length of travel, weather at your destination and any activities planned during your trip. Also important - your stuff will get ruined abroad. Don’t bring your fanciest clothing... you should probably pack for all seasons (depending on where your studying and where you plan on traveling). Don’t stuff your suitcases because you will shop. Shoes must be comfortable because no matter where you go, you will be walking a lot. I know you think that two bags for four months is impossible.. but people just get over wearing the same stuff over and over again.
● I brought my Northface jacket to London, but that was not necessary; it is very cold so bring several different options for jackets, but a good peacoat will do. However, other places you travel (Amsterdam, Prague, Vienna, Berlin) are very cold, and you could benefit from a substantial jacket.
● If you are going to London, definitely bring rain boots. Don’t try to be cool for them... it’s wet 75% of the time.
● If you are living with a family in a home, you are most likely going to want to bring warm clothes to sleep in (i.e., Long underwear.)
● Traveling bags: Bring a rolly suitcase and/or travelers backpack! It's much easier to travel on trains, and multiple places with a lighter/smaller bag so don’t bring everything, pack lightly. Airlines in Euro also have stricter carry-on regulations (especially Ryanair!) so make sure your bag is small (check online at vueling.com or clickair.com). Airlines will often charge if a bag is too big.
● It also is not that big of a deal to check a bag. It is worth the extra money to check a bag if you are going somewhere colder and need extra clothes. (know is you are going to be traveling on Eurail during your time abroad, you will need to deal.)
● Also remember that when you travel, everybody is packing. So one pair of shoes, one pair of jeans, multiple shirts, and a couple going out outfits are fine.
● Bring a travel size of all the toiletry products you use and you can keep refilling them after weekend trips. You will pack mostly in carry-ons, and everything must be the small travel size in plastic zip lock bags. They are very strict about this so I would make sure you have a travel size of the products you are used to ready to go. European liquid restrictions are also different so make sure your bottles are the same.
● Bring a good-sized backpack to use as a weekend trip/ carry on. Checking bags on short weekend trips is a hassle and going through security they only let you have one bag. That means you need to have a bag that you can even fit your purse in when you go through security. I also brought with me one of the Bagalini bag that is sturdy and folds up into itself and could serve as a long weekend trip bag but can still be a carry-on. You will also want a small purse to carry around with you while you are being touristy. Big enough for a camera, water bottle, wallet, etc. We recommend Osprey 55.
OTHER PACKING TIPS
● Pack a regular size of all your toiletries that you need- there are plenty of pharmacy stores that you can buy replacements at when you run out, so there is no need to bring multiple bottles of everything. However, note that they don’t have a lot of American brands so if you need specific types of shampoo or deodorant or are just picky (let's be real) then you should bring multiples.
● Purses: no need to bring a bunch that will just take up a lot of room.
● Shoes: London is a walking city, and comfortable shoes are key. I wore All Birds almost every day to keep my feet from getting tired. A good pair of black flats is key because wearing heels will get tiring quickly. Ladies bring wedges.
● Bedding: You room comes with one set of bedding, but I would recommend (in London) buying a second set at Sainsbury’s for less than 20 pounds that way you don’t have to do laundry as often. Also, you will probably want a second pillow. They give you very bare minimum bedding - you can buy all of this abroad.
● Bring something you can put your room key on that you will always have with you!
● A good rain jacket and travel compact umbrella are essential items to bring!
● Towels- you have to bring your towels so I would bring one and then buy additional towels there because they take up a lot of room in a suitcase.
● Hangers- they provide some hangers, and you can always ask the guys to take their leftovers since they won’t need as many.
● The earlier you book, the cheaper it is. So, get together with your friends early, take a map, pick where you want to go and book it (make sure you're not going to miss any exams!). Skyscanner.net is my favorite for cheap flights, but once you find a flight on that site go to the specific airline's website because it might be even cheaper.
● You must always get there at least 45 minutes before a flight. If not they will not check you in so don’t even try. Also, tickets can never be purchased right before a flight; I think the rule is 4 hours.
● Make itineraries for traveling, at best just write down all your addresses, ways of public transportation to and from the airport (cabs are slow, and a waste of money take Uber, trains, and buses).
● Finding hotels and hostels: I would suggest hostelworld.com, hotelbookers.com, and tripadvisor.com. Always confirm your reservation.
● Attendance policies are strict usually, don’t mess up or they will fail you.
● Take advantage of field trips/organized trips and how knowledgeable your teachers abroad are—get to know them! In the Tel Aviv program there was a fantastic Poland trip, go on it.
● Laundry: Most apartment/residencies will have washing machines.