Almost without exception, less is better. Exchange students rarely wish they had brought more stuff with them—they usually wish the opposite! Focus on packing what you know you will need and leave out anything you think you might need.

Each country and region is different. Get packing advice from your host family or from Returnees on the “Ask and AFSer” Facebook page.

Essential Packing Tips

It is not possible for AFS to tell you exactly what you will need for an entire year in your host family’s specific location. Instead, we give you some guiding tips and questions designed to help you find out what you will need to pack. Review the tips below and on the next page to guide your research.

  • Pack 7 - 10 days worth of versatile layers. It is impossible to pack for your entire experience; You’ll be able to wash your clothes and buy unforeseen necessities in your host country.
  • Ask AFS Returnees what they wish they had and had not taken with them.
  • Plan to buy clothing and toiletries in your host country; it is one way to experience local life, support the local economy, and you’ll bring less from the U.S..
  • Pack in a carry-on bag that can double as a day bag or school backpack.
  • You do NOT need to purchase new luggage for your exchange.
  • All items of value (electronics, musical instruments, sports equipment, etc.) pose a risk for theft abroad. Whatever you bring, guard it carefully.
  • Do not wrap your host family’s gifts until you arrive; Transit Authority may open them.