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Study abroad packing (help)


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DD is going to New Zealand in 2 weeks. We are trying to buy luggage and figure out how to get stuff there. Her flights on Air New Zealand allow only 15 lbs for the carryon luggage. Both they and United give one one free checked bag which can be up to 50 pounds. I think we are resigning ourselves to excess baggage costs but if anyone has tips on what to do, please help. She needs warm clothes since it is winter and yes, she does want to travel to areas that are cold. She is bringing a laptop, knapsack that needs to go in luggage, camera, one small book and then clothes. What have you all done?

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I could do it in that, but I'm a bit of a minimalist.


I'd have her max out her carry on--wear her coat/scarf/gloves on, with jeans, hiking boots, etc. She'll be landing in winter anyway.


What is she packing?  Personally, my list would look like:

1 pr jeans

1 pr black trousers

1 pr leggings

1 black dress

4 long sleeved shirts

1 sweater

maybe 1 cardigan

1 pr black flats

1 pr trainers

2 sets of workout clothes that could double as nightwear

assorted under things as necessary

jewelry to differentiate outfits as dressy or casual 


If she rolls her clothes as outfits, that's easily just one suitcase, and <50#.  


Why does her knapsack need to go into luggage? 



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How long is she staying for? Do you know for sure the weight limit is going to be an issue? DS21 went to Copenhagen for six weeks' study abroad last year. He had about 15 pounds to spare in his checked bag. He didn't need any really warm clothing, but he's a bit of a clothes horse and so not a light/minimalist traveler. Definitely have her wear some of her heaviest clothes if that's tolerable at departure temps.

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A trick is definitely to wear your heaviest/bulkiest stuff on the plane.  Our exchange student that came for a year was wearing two coats and a big sweater on the plane.  Also wear the footwear that is heaviest/takes up the most room (like hiking boots).


Dd is abroad for the summer.  She managed just the backpack (with laptop) for carry-on and just made the 50-lb limit for the checked bag.  But she brought a bunch of books and 10 lbs. of weights for her daily PT, so those were heavy.


Don't overpack.  You can definitely make do with a few pairs of pants, a few different shirts each of different sleeve lengths, a couple of sweaters, and a dress or skirt or two for if you want to dress up. One pair of comfortable sandals, one pair of comfortable walking shoes, a pair of hiking boots if she's planning on going to the mountains but otherwise don't bother.  When I went to Switzerland with the kids (lots of mountain hiking), I got them hiking sneakers and they doubled as our walking shoes.  For a whole semester she might want some shoes that are nicer for the city, though.  Of course don't forget plug adapters. 

Edited by Matryoshka
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Will she be traveling around NZ while she's there, staying in hostels?  If so, they may not provide towels, so she will want to pack a Turkish or microfiber towel (wash them several times in advance).  My daughter took one to China and was much envied by her traveling companions.  Also, I often try to pack something I can throw away before I return so as to free up space for souvenirs on the return trip, so I often return with no toiletries, but I've also jettisoned old shoes and clothing.



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Can she use the knapsack as her carryon? 


How cold will it be where he wants to go?  Often layering with a long sleeve shirt, a sweatshirt, and a windbreaker (perhaps with a scarf) will be warm enough and each layer can be worn separately for different weather conditions.  The sweatshirt can be taken in the carryon in case the plane is chilly (and can be scrunched up for a pillow).  If she does need a heavy coat, that can usually be carried onto the plane by hand; if it is bulky, you may want to pack it in a bag that you can remove air from and flatten out. 


If you are purchasing luggage pay attention to the weight of the luggage--even some marked "lightweight" will run 12 pounds.  Pack clothing that is lightweight, not just for luggage weight, but so that it will air dry easily while traveling.  (I never pack jeans for this reason).


Liquids can add weight quickly; she will be gone long enough that she will need to buy shampoo, etc. while she is there anyway so minimize how much of that she is traveling with.

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When ds went to Oxford for a year, we definitely paid for excess baggage. Mostly he packed minimalistically and took the "If I really need it, there are stores there and I can buy it!" approach. I freaked out because he took so little, but honestly he needed to buy almost nothing while he was there.


At the end of his time, he did throw out or give away all heavily used items -- clothes that still had some life in them but weren't worth paying extra for,  beat-up linens, etc. -- and used the extra luggage space for gifts / souvenirs.....

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Dh just told me to stop worrying about the excess baggage cost. He says what is a 100 when we are already paying 2K. She has to pack her knapsack because it is too big for one of the airlines. I guess we can have her bring some winter clothes in a bag to put on in the airport instead of walking around out here with it. It is a southern summer here so not weather to wear winter clothing. About the backpack, she can't use it as a personal bag because it is too large for at least one of the airlines (not Southwest- can I just say again, I love Southwest) and since on Air New Zealand, the carryon can only weigh 15 pounds, the backpack could only work as a carryon and very lightly packed. We may decide to do that. But we may just get an even lighter bag specially designed for travel,

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I also answered on your other thread.


My daughter spent a semester in New Zealand at the University of Otago.  She was there at the same time of year as your daughter will be.


One odd suggestion:  See if your daughter can find out about laundry facilities.  Dryers were cost prohibitive to use in NZ and are rare in South Korea where my daughter is currently working.  My daughter has a new found attachment to clothes made with modal which dry soft rather than stiff when not using a dryer.


I'd also recommend some long underwear for your daughter.  I'd suggest silk which is very lightweight.




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Winter clothes definitely take up more room!


When my kids go to live over seas for a semester or year, they generally bring one big suitcase (just under 50 pounds), a good size backpack (maybe around a 45 L size), and then a small carry-on backpack or tote.


They check the big suitcase and big backpack, and carry their computer, a book, and a few odds and ends in the small carry-on backpack/tote.


So, we generally end up paying for the second checked bag.


Once they're there, the big suitcase is unpacked and never used again while there.  The big backpack is great for weekend or weeklong excursions.  The small backpack/tote is great for every day use.

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Houses are not well heated. She needs to bring thermals and lots of layers. I'm currently wearing 4 wool shirts and a polar fleece, plus jeans and fleecy over trousers (I like them better than long johns because I can remove them when I go out).


Rain jacket and waterproof trousers are also a must in Wellington because umbrellas are useless in the wind.


Also, they *will* weight your carry on. So keep it to 15 pounds.


Ruth in NZ

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