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Behind-the-scenes advice for your journey to become a vet

How do I get ready for my first trip abroad?

Loop Abroad alum Amelia Matczak shares her top tips when preparing for your first trip abroad.

So, you have finally booked your first trip abroad, but how do you prepare for it? What should you pack? What should you expect? If you’re going on a travel camp, who else is going to be there? What kind of research should you do before making the trip? 

These are all questions that flew through my mind when I went on my first trip abroad and luckily, through trial and error, I have found some of the answers and am now here to share them with you.

What should you pack?

You need to take into consideration how much traveling your trip entails from the moment you get off of the plane. You should always pack light, but if you are going to be traveling around once you get to your destination, maybe you should think about a rucksack instead of a suitcase. Once you’ve made that decision, you can begin to make your packing list. 

  1. Pack old! I recommend packing clothes that are old and you wouldn’t mind tossing them at the end of your trip to make room. There is nothing worse than having purchased something to remember your trip by and then having your baggage be overweight at the airport.
  2. Be respectful. Every place has its own cultural norms, and you don’t want to wear something that could be considered offensive. So make sure to do a little bit of Googling on your destination to ensure you pack appropriate clothing.
  3. Pack light. Whatever amount of clothing you think you need, cut it in half. You would be surprised how far a pair of jeans, two shirts, and one nice outfit can get you without completely weighing yourself down.
  4. A Universal Adaptor. Yes, self-explanatory, but don’t wait until you are at the airport to buy one! I have tried a lot of them, but my favorite ones are the cubes with one place for a three-prong plug and a row of plugs for 4 USB chargers.
  5. Feminine Products. Pack them. Pack extras. Pack more than you think you could need. Some countries don’t carry the same brands you are used to, let alone the same products. Plus, if you are spending time in travel camps, the last thing you want to do with your free time is scour a new place for feminine products instead of exploring a new location. If you plan to use a reusable item that needs to be washed, be sure you’ll have access to clean hot water.

First time abroad? You’re not alone!

Check out stories from students about

their first time abroad. 

What should you expect?

Expect the unexpected…but in a good way. Any time you travel outside of your own country, you are faced with culture shock. It might be something extreme, like not understanding what anyone is saying, but it could also be something as mundane as being unable to buy Gatorade. Eventually, or sometimes suddenly, these cultural differences can become overwhelming and not what you had anticipated, but you have to remind yourself that part of your purpose in being there is to expand your mind, experience things outside of what you are used to and to embrace these differences to help you better understand yourself and the world. So, expect to encounter things that surprise you. 

That being said, you don’t have to go into the experience completely in the dark. I highly recommend reading some online forums or picking up a book on the place you are traveling to. That way, even though you will still experience culture shock, you will have some idea of what to expect. 

Hopefully these tips have helped you prepare for your first trip abroad, but if you still want more advice, check with the organization you are traveling with! Most travel camps post suggested packing lists and have previous travelers you can reach out to with questions. If you have planned the trip by yourself and are looking for more advice, search online for suggested packing lists to your location, and, most importantly, get excited about your trip and have fun!

Keep reading! Loop Abroad: The Veterinary Adventure of a Lifetime