luggage for study abroad

I will have 2 children attending a 7 week study abroad session in France next summer. Any suggestions on luggage or a combination of luggage pieces?

Posted by Monte
Genesee, ID
1759 posts

I would suggest one carry-on convertible bag with no wheels and one shoulder bag. Both can double for other uses when they arrive. Take enough clothes to get there and settled and then buy other needed clothes locally.

Posted by Sarah
Here and there
81 posts

Having done two year-long study abroad programs and a semester program, I'd probably bring a rolling duffle to check and a smaller carry-on to carry important stuff and to have for overnight or weekend trips in case that opportunity arises. Finally, use a backpack or messenger bag for a personal item. I like L.L. Bean's rolling duffles for long trips, especially in cases where you're going and staying in one place for a long time instead of touring around and having to move your suitcases every few days. They're really durable and since they're rolling duffles instead of suitcases, they're not quite as heavy. The large is about the largest you can go without having to pay oversize or overweight charges. North Face's Base Camp Duffles are another option that I've used for different things. They're not rolling duffles, but they do have backpack straps which I've found sufficient for carrying from airport to train station to hotel or hostel. Again, the Large is probably about as large as you want to go without risking oversize and/or overweight fees. For the carry-on, L.L. Bean's regular duffles might be a good option. The Medium size can fit as a carry-on as long as it's not overstuffed. I also like Osprey's Porter 46 for carry-on. It's got a lot of space, is light, and I've done a number of trips with just it and been fine.

Posted by Sarah
Here and there
81 posts

Continued... I always like to pack some pajamas, a change of clothes, a few pairs of underwear, any medications I need, and such in case my checked bag is delayed. That way, I've got enough to at least get me through a day or two so I can either wait for the bag or have some time to plan what I really need before I have to buy stuff. As an adult traveling on your own, it's easy to just pop down to a store to get what you need. As a kid on a study abroad program, that can be harder logistically and financially. So, packing a couple of days worth of stuff in the carry-on can save a lot of stress. I will also say that carry-on only packing might not be the best solution for kids on a 7 week study abroad program. When you're living somewhere for 7 weeks and on a schedule and budget that may or may not allow for as much shopping or laundry doing as you would as an independent, adult traveler, it might just be a lot easier to take more stuff. Finally, they might also want to take some sort of collapsible duffle like the REI Stuff Travel Duffle. It could be helpful if they buy stuff they want to bring home and can also double as a laundry bag while they're there.

Posted by melissa
821 posts

Do you have kids who are spending their time in one location, with adults around for laundry advice? Our experience is that the highschoolers usually have adults around for laundry advice & so can pack less. College kids are on their own with the laundry issue, but the program should have info for you about that essential.
I too think the rolling duffle, a sunstantial backpack and a packable/ checkable duffle would be best. Tell 'em some airlines charge 80 euros for the second checked bag, so the souvenirs better be great...

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
8785 posts

Its only 7 weeks, not 7 months, I think you can get away with alot less,they will have access to laundry of some sort as no one is expected to do no laundry for 7 weeks.
Also, how are they getting from the airport or trainstation , will they be with a busload of other students, will they be met, take a taxi, how old are students. Transporting luggage if on ones own and using public transport puts entirely different demands on you then if you are simply picking bags off luggage rack at airport and going to group bus.

Posted by Sarah
Here and there
81 posts

I'm not suggesting that they overpack or that every bag has to be stuffed full, just that carry-on only probably won't work for teenagers studying abroad for seven weeks. I also didn't mean that they wouldn't be able to do laundry at all while they're there, just that they probably wouldn't be doing laundry in the sink every few days the way an adult traveler on their own might do and also that they may be at the mercy of their host family's laundry schedule. If the family only does laundry every two weeks, then you need at least two weeks worth of clothes. Also, when you're a teenager who's around the same people every day, you're less likely to be willing to wear the same thing over and over again the way you might as an adult moving from city to city. So, I guess that the long and the short of it is that, as a student on a study abroad program, you have less freedom and fewer resources than an adult traveling on their own or with other adults. So, you may want to bring more things because it's not as easy to just pop down to the store to get something when you're in class or need to wait for your host family to show you where the stores are. You're also going in to a family or dorm-type situation where you don't really know the routine and it may take you awhile to figure it out. So, again, not having to worry about whether or not you've got enough clean underwear can make the experience a little more enjoyable. I will absolutely agree that you should try to find out how they're getting from the airport to wherever they're staying. That may very well affect the type of luggage they want (rolling, non-rolling, how full, etc).

Posted by Will
Columbia, SC
336 posts

I agree that carry-on only is not the way to go for study abroad. If they already have rolling suitcases around 21", those would do in a pinch with a backpack, and perhaps a collapsible bag for quick overnights. It will be summer after all, so no sweaters etc. But they would need to take a week's worth of everything. As for laundry, if they're staying with a host family, I imagine the family will be required to do their laundry once a week, or allow them access to the machine(s). Once every two weeks would pretty much be madness. And finally, the kids will almost certainly get some kind of packet from their program that addresses these issues.

Posted by Angela
New York, NY
14 posts

How fun! I would suggest a lightweight hard case spinner luggage for checked baggage and a backpack for carry-on, which will double as their day pack for classes and educational trips. I'd also pack a travel tote to carry the laundry and bring home souvenirs and a pop-up mesh hamper to put in the room. The hard case spinner fits underneath the bed and could double as a lock box to put important documents, passport, electronic gadgets that they cannot bring inside the classroom. It can also be used as a table for your laptop when you feel like sitting on the carpet beside your bed. My friends and I do this because it's more comfortable than using the study tables in our rooms, which feels an awful lot like being in the classroom and less of a temptation than sitting on the bed. A week's worth of clothes should do fine. Mixing and matching and accessorizing is an art perfected by boarding students. Just bring a couple of belts, jewelries and scarves. In my school, the laundry was collected once a week because our school uniforms needed to be washed and pressed. The program literature should have more information on this. If they were younger children, the school's housekeeping service will collect laundry. Although some schools probably has laundry facilities in their residence halls for Upper School students.