A Suitcase Abroad: What to Bring

Lift off: T-minus eleven days. It’s time to pack the empty suitcase that’s been sitting on the floor for weeks. I’ll be landing in Florence, Italy in just over a week, and I’ll bet it will be a little warmer than the northeastern coast of the US.

Your first question probably is: How do I know how much to bring? I’m here to help you pack.


It can be easy to forget that your new home is likely in a different latitude than what you’re used to. This means you may not need those extra sweaters you love so much – and they take up a lot of room in your suitcase!

Italy is generally a little milder than New England. For my spring semester, it’ll warm up a lot sooner in Italy than in the states. The month of February averages a cool 50 degrees. By April, Italy bathes in the spring sunlight in the 60 to 70 degree weather. May can reach up to the 80s. The summer warmth will tend to stick around longer into the fall too.


While Italy may be a touristy city, wearing the wrong outfit can still win you glares from the locals. Whether that bothers you is your own personal matter, but keep in mind common curtosy.

Americans tend to show more skin, which can be considered inappropriate in many other countries, including Italy. Wear whatever is comfortable for you – but if you plan on going into a church or to a formal event, don’t forget to cover up.


Welcome to fashion central! If you’re going to Italy for study abroad, this is so so important.

Gray sweatpants and a sweatshirt (a grout-fit, if you may… yikes) is a no-go in Italy. Italians dress up more than Americans do, and events such as going out to dinner can be very formal. Even walking to the grocery store in sweatpants can feel illegal. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bring your comfiest sweats… just keep in mind the culture of wherever you’re going.


Florence’s streets are uneven, and don’t pair well with heels. From what I’ve heard, don’t ditch the running sneakers even if they aren’t super fashionable. Find something cute that also supports you on your city-wide walks!

I’ve always loved plain, white sneakers (from Converse to high top Adidas to Nike Air Force 1’s), and they’re soo in European style right now, so not much will change from my footwear style at home.

EDIT: We’ve already had a few cases of sprained ankles here in Florence… watch your feet!

Photo credit: Mia Fanizzi

My Suitcase

Here’s the list of clothing I’ll be bringing!

Some of the items* aren’t necessary for everyone, just personal choice! This is just a helpful list for a girl who usually packs waaaaay too much to college.

  1. 2 jeans (dark, light) + black jeans (dressy)
  2. 2 black leggings
  3. *1 plaid pants (or anything cargo, flare, fashionable)
  4. 1 gray sweatpants
  5. 2 jean shorts
  6. 2 athletic shorts
  7. *2 sleep shorts
  8. 7 sleep shirts (basic tees or whatever you wear)
  9. 5 cute/semi-formal + everyday shirts
  10. 3-5 tanks/crop tops (NEUTRAL is key)
  11. *2 workout shirts
  12. 2 formal shirts
  13. 2 sweatshirts
  14. 2 cardigans/flannels (layers!!!)
  15. 1 windbreaker/raincoat
  16. *1 jean jacket
  17. everyday sneakers (Nike Air Force, Converse, Adidas)
  18. running sneakers (neutral color)
  19. boots/booties/wedges/flats (dressy)
  20. flip flops/sandals

I definitely packed too many shirts, but since they’re so small (especially rolled up) I could easily fit a lot of them at a very small weight. EDIT: I think I did pretty well actually, and I’m glad I limited myself more than others did.

Neutral colors like black, white, gray, brown and light pink allow for so many outfit options, especially when adding in a jean jacket, flannel, or cardigan.

Of course, you don’t need a jean jacket or flannels either, they’re just good for layering! Since I’ll be there between seasons, it’s good to bring versatile clothing for any weather.

Photo credit: Mia Fanizzi

Redo it. Yes. Again.

If you’re anything like me, go through your suitcase once more. Look at all those shirts you packed. How many times did you wear that pink short-sleeve in the past month? Not once? Maybe rethink a few items to save some room for those new shirts you’re going to buy.

If you don’t wear it now, you won’t wear it abroad. Stick with what you’re comfortable wearing.

Happy traveling!

Yours Truly,

Cat Taylor

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