Before You #StudyAbroad in the UK: A To-Do and Don’t-Do List

“Before You Study Abroad in the UK: A To-Do and Don’t-Do List”

by Roslyn Kent via “Huffington Post

Failing to prepare is like preparing to fail; get organized, check off that list and do your research before you go overseas to the United Kingdom–you won’t regret be over prepared.

It’s normal to be overwhelmed by all the check lists, packing lists and shopping lists that you’ll undoubtedly be inundated with prior to leaving for your exchange in the UK. Emotions aside, the last thing you’ll want to deal with before you leave is the logistics of your exchange; unfortunately, your mom can’t do it all for you. Not sure what you’ll need while overseas? Here’s what you should and shouldn’t do prior to leaving for your whirlwind study abroad experience:

Don’t:

1. Overpack: You won’t be wanting to bring all your unnecessary bulky toiletries. You will be able to buy almost all of them there (unless you need to use specific brands) and chances are, they’ll be even cheaper overseas (hello Poundland!).

2. Buy a roaming package for your phone: Phone plans are dirt cheap in the UK (the cheapest you’ll pay is £5/month or at the most, £15/month, which will probably included unlimited data and lots of texting and calling). If you extend your phone plan from home it will still cost you more, especially for data–you’ll want data in case you get lost. Try to get a month by month plan so you’re not tied down to anything. If you can, sign up with Three Mobile, that way you can use your phone for free in 10 other countries in Europe!

3. Pay for unnecessary visas: Make sure you’re aware of exactly which visa you’ll need while in the UK. It’s likely your home university’s study abroad office will assist you in this, but avoid seeking advice elsewhere (i.e. from friends who’ve never studied abroad). If you’re a citizen of a commonwealth country then you won’t have to pay for a visa at all if you only plan to stay in the UK for six months. Research the different options and be wary of paying for a visa you won’t need.

4. Bring your hair dryer and straightener: If you want to avoid bringing home a broken hair dryer/straightener, it’s highly advisable that you buy a cheap one over there and share with your roommates. Oftentimes, North American hair dryers and straighteners aren’t equipped to handle the voltage of a UK outlet. If you’re certain yours can handle it then go ahead and bring it with you, if not, it’s better to be safe than sorry! . . .

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20 Helpful Tips for Pre-Study Abroad

“20 Helpful Tips for Pre-Study Abroad”

by Samuel Buchanan via “Huffington Post

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Preparing for a trip can be a laborious task, especially when you’re leaving your country. If you are studying abroad or planning to for the first time, you may have traveling anxiety. What will I do; where will I go; how will I survive? Don’t worry! Here are a few tips that will help you before takeoff.

Packing
If you’re anything like me, you probably want to pack everything you have in your luggage. Although well-intended (as you can never be too safe), cost and weight won’t permit you to do it. Therefore, you must Consolidate and Eliminate.

1. Do not pack every just-in-case-you-get-bored item.
2. Find 2-3 pairs of comfortable, multi-purpose shoes.
3. Learn how to mix-and-match 4-5 different outfits.
4. Pack lightly
5. Tightly fold clothes and/or buy compression bags.

Doing the aforementioned, will allow you to save both time and money. If you are still having trouble with deciding what to bring, there are some great YouTube videos for you to watch. See Travel Tips: How You Need to Pack to Study Abroad

Planning Your Adventure
When packing gets boring and the television is no longer entertaining, you will most likely be daydreaming about your trip. Though daydreaming what you could do can be… dreamy, it does not compare to what you will do. So, Stop Daydreaming and Start Planning your adventure.

6. Start planning for the things you will do.
7. Look up the activities your program offers.
8. Google things to do in [insert country here] and…
9. Do them!

In the words of Shia LaBeouf, “Just do it!” For a dream that is not actualized is only a fantasy.

Having the Right Attitude
For those individuals who like to guard themselves by thinking of . . . .

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From “The Berry”

should i pack it?

“Should I Pack It?” from “The Berry” (Click image for website)

Travel jacket with 15 built-in gadgets raises $900,000 on Kickstarter

So What’s the verdict fellow Study-Abroadists?  Would you pay out extra money for this jacket or is it just another unnecessary travel accessory?  I’m kind of thinking I’d be too heavy-laden with all that stuff to walk :)**DB

“Travel jacket with 15 built-in gadgets raises $900,000 on Kickstarter”

by Jessica Plautz via “Mashable”

Baubax_feat

There are many many travel gadgets out there, and most of them aren’t worth the trouble of hauling around: The neck pillow for a not-complete-uncomfortable nap, the eye mask for when the guy next to you insists on using the reading light, a travel blanket for staying warm.

What if you could get all of those features in one Swiss Army knife-like travel jacket? The promise is apparently enough that one apparel company has already attracted about $900,000 in funding on Kickstarter to manufacture it. When the project launched on July 7, its goal was just $20,000.

BauBax’s travel jacket is 15 travel gadgets in one, according to the company. Features include the built in hood and eye mask, a drink pocket, a stylus-slash-pen zipper, and a variety of utility pockets for everything from a smartphone to a tablet. . . .

 

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The incredible shrinking carry-on bag

“The incredible shrinking carry-on bag”

by Christopher Elliott via “USA Today”

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Mark Nevelow isn’t worried about the new airline carry-on luggage standards everyone’s talking about.

That’s because he just spent $99 on a new, smaller bag, a MobilePro backpack that fits under his seat. “I heard about the proposal,” he says. “I’m not concerned. With this backpack, it won’t affect me.”

At least, not yet. The controversial new limits proposed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), a trade group, set the maximum for luggage brought onboard at a slimmed-down 21.5 x 13.5 x 7.5 inches, significantly smaller than what’s now allowed on most planes.

Last week, after loud protests from several airlines, IATA backed down, saying it would “pause” the rollout of its voluntary “IATA Cabin OK” rule, which it claimed would give everyone an equal chance to store their carry-on bags on a large passenger jet. But don’t think for a moment that smaller luggage standards are dead.

“We can’t know for sure which luggage recommendations will become regulations,” says Michele Pittenger, president of the Travel Goods Association, which represents luggage manufacturers.

It’s probably only a matter of time before shrunken luggage becomes the norm. Even Pittenger admits that the current trend “is toward efficiency,” and a lot of times, that means going smaller. Bottom line: Either you need new luggage, or you’ll have to pack light.

For Arabella Bowen, the editor-in-chief of Fodor’s Travel, that means fitting everything into her Kate Spade Weekender (alas, no longer sold). But she recommends the Lipault 2-Wheeled 19″ Carry-On ($169; lipault-us.com), clocking in at 19 x 13 x 6 inches, which IATA would be OK with. It’s also soft-sided.

“Soft-sided bags have the advantage of fitting into overhead bins with a bit of massaging even when hard-backed roller bags can’t,” she says. “In a pinch, they can even slide under your seat.”

Samuel Nebel swears by the Aerolite luggage ($99) he discovered at a recent trade show, because it’s light, small and just an inch larger than the IATA standard, but still fits in the overhead bin of most large passenger aircraft. “It’s ridiculously functional,” says Nebel, who runs a health and beauty products company in Atlanta.

Of course, technique matters, too. It goes without saying that you’ll want to pack less, and smarter.

“Roll instead of folding and use nylon straps to cinch down bulging bags,” says Jonathan Deesing, a packing expert for imove.com. If you’re serious about squeezing more into less space, consider a luggage cube or a compression bag.

“Using these bags, I’ve compressed a week’s worth of clothing in a tiny duffle bag with room to spare,” he says.

It isn’t just how you pack, but what you take. Stay away from heavy fabrics like denim or linen, advises Rachel Grant, a TV host and frequent traveler. “Choose to pack clothes that are made from light fabrics, like silks, light cotton and polyester,” she adds. If you must bring a pair of favorite jeans, then wear them on the plane. . . .

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What not to bring

“What not to bring”

via “Economist

MOST travel writers have oodles of tips to offer travellers about what to take on the road. (Gulliver is a cheerleader for wireless modems and phones with tethering service.) But the folks over at Map Happy had a better idea: what about a post for the overpackers out there, those who always take too much? What can business travellers safely leave behind? Here is Melissa Roskowski’s list (with some added commentary from yours truly):

  • Luggage with spinning wheels, which don’t work well on rough surfaces and cost you precious overhead bin space.
  • Neck pillows. (I’ll admit I have one, and I’ve only bothered with it once.)
  • Sink-washing supplies
  • Money belts and travel wallets. (These are accessories for tourists who are travelling abroad for the first time, not business pros. Never show up for a business meeting wearing a money belt.)
  • Special “travel” clothes. (See previous item.)
  • RFID-blocking passport holders, etc. (Getting your identity stolen is more bad luck than anything else. Paying extra to protect against it is a waste of money for most people.)
  • “Seat enhancers” (Click through to Map Happy’s list for an explanation.)

This stuff is all fairly easily ditched. Here are some other things I would add:

MOST travel writers have oodles of tips to offer travellers about what to take on the road. (Gulliver is a cheerleader for wireless modems and phones with tethering service.) But the folks over at Map Happy had a better idea: what about a post for the overpackers out there, those who always take too much? What can business travellers safely leave behind? Here is Melissa Roskowski’s list (with some added commentary from yours truly):

  • Luggage with spinning wheels, which don’t work well on rough surfaces and cost you precious overhead bin space.
  • Neck pillows. (I’ll admit I have one, and I’ve only bothered with it once.)
  • Sink-washing supplies
  • Money belts and travel wallets. (These are accessories for tourists who are travelling abroad for the first time, not business pros. Never show up for a business meeting wearing a money belt.)
  • Special “travel” clothes. (See previous item.)
  • RFID-blocking passport holders, etc. (Getting your identity stolen is more bad luck than anything else. Paying extra to protect against it is a waste of money for most people.)
  • “Seat enhancers” (Click through to Map Happy’s list for an explanation.)

This stuff is all fairly easily ditched. Here are some other things I would add: . .

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Fellow Traveler’s! Help!

I am preparing for my China trip, and I need to get 2 suitcases that are as close as possible to the maximum size (62 inches).  

I’m not particular to brand or material, while budget is a factor.  

So what are your experiences with luggage?

Any brands or types you particularly hate/loved?  Looking for advice on ease of handling, packing, durability, price, etc.

I’ll write up a review on everything I’ve learned after I’ve made my choice 🙂

Thanks!