8 items you won’t regret leaving behind during your internship abroad

If you’ve ever had to pull stuff out of your suitcase at the airport because you’ve surpassed the weight limit on your bags, this list is for you. It seems practically impossible to decide what to pack and what to leave behind, right? Even though stuffing in every last piece of clothing is tempting, the last thing you want to happen while you’re having an international adventure is to feel weighed down by your luggage. The following items are extraneous to a successful internship abroad and will just end up being a burden.


8 items you won’t regret leaving behind (and why):

1. Expensive sunglasses

They don’t take up a lot of space in a suitcase, but they still aren’t a good idea to bring abroad. Traveling around tourist spots and nipping in and out of cafes in a foreign country is the easiest way for expensive sunglasses to get lost. Avoid bringing along your designer shades and opt for a cheap alternative pair that won’t be such a pain to replace if something does happen to them.


2. Clothes that wrinkle easily

Since you’ll be traveling often, the best items to pack are the ones that don’t wrinkle easily. That way, you can pull them out of a suitcase and go without having to worry about ironing. Tip: To prevent wrinkling you can also try to roll your clothing up, instead of folding it. If you hang your clothes up once you arrive at your accommodation, spray a little water on them and give them a good shake – most items should straighten out right away.


3. High heels or any type of uncomfortable, fancy footwear

There are almost no situations when high heels can’t be replaced with a nice pair of flats, boots or wedges. Since you’ll be walking or taking public transportation to your internship abroad, high heels are highly unrealistic in terms of footwear and will just be a waste of space in your suitcase.


what to pack


4. Flashy clothing

Not only do bright neon colors draw attention to you – making you stand out more as a tourist – but they are also hard to match. Try bringing clothing with lots of neutral tones and subtle (or no) patterns. These will make you blend in more and also be easy to match. Less clothing, more outfits and more room for souvenirs.


5. Expensive jewelry

The last thing you want to be worrying about while sightseeing abroad is keeping guard of your expensive jewelry. Even if you want to bring it to wear just for one night out, it’s just another thing that you’ll worry about losing while you are trying your best to work in a city that you’re not familiar with. Take along your knock-off stuff for trips, keep your diamonds for back home.


6. Too many shoes

Not only are high heels a no-no, but bringing along an excess of any type of footwear is completely unnecessary. Try your best to bring along shoes that you can wear in a lot of different contexts – work, museums, social events, dancing. And bring them in colors that will match as many things as possible. Try to limit yourself to three pairs of shoes – tops.


7. Too many books

Books are the greatest! But they are just not suited for a big international trip. Bring the Kindle and leave the heavy books behind. The only acceptable exceptions are a travel guide and a work of literature related to where you’re headed.


what to pack


8. A yoga mat

It’s difficult to keep up your exercise routine while abroad, but bringing a yoga mat is just going to add to your bulk. Bring a small blanket or towel instead to save room in your suitcase and opt for other types of athletic activities like running, walking and cycling.


What to pack – items you should bring:

  • Sunscreen

  • Affordable sunglasses
  • A waterproof jacket
  • A notebook and pens

  • Your phone

  • Neutral-toned clothes that are easy to layer

  • Slacks and professional, comfortable tops

  • Comfortable flats


To learn more about what you should bring abroad for your internship abroad check out our article “10 things you must bring to your internship abroad“.



Photo 1. based on Suitcases at Dereham Station #dailyshoot #Norfolk, by Les Haines, CC-by-2.0

Photo 2. based on High Heels, by Emilien ETIENNE, CC-by-2.0

Photo 3. based on A Lantern to See By: The Bryn Mawr Story, by Maria, CC-by-SA 2.0


The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!

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Elizabeth Trovall

After short stints in Argentina and Belize, Elizabeth is finishing up her fourth year in Santiago, Chile. Elizabeth writes about international internships, life abroad and professional development for The Intern Group. She also reports on politics, business and culture in Latin America for public radio and print media. An Austin, Texas native, Elizabeth first left home to earn her journalism degree from the Reynolds Institute of Journalism at the University of Missouri. Besides her friends and family, she misses live music and Mexican food the most.
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