Packing Light for NYU London

I have never been good at packing light. My default setting is to over-pack — I usually end up cramming enough clothes for two weeks into my overnight duffel for a weekend up north. Before I left for my current study away in London, England, I had to learn to pack light. I managed to fit everything I needed for my journey into two suitcases, so it’s definitely possible! For heavy packers: here are my tips on packing light and fitting your entire life into under one hundred pounds.

1. Four Pairs of Shoes

A pair of running or gym shoes, a pair for going out, a casual pair for the dry weather and a pair of rain boots for the perpetual London greyness will get you far. Make sure that all of these shoes are comfortable and match with many outfits.

2. A Note on Rain Boots

When you think rain boots you probably think knee-high glossy Hunter boots which weigh a hundred pounds by themselves and take up more room in your suitcase than you have. They may be cute but they are not worth bringing. It rains all the time and you won’t want to wear those heavy boots every day. Instead, invest in a solid pair of rain booties. I bought a pair of black Hunter Chelsea boots and they’re the only boots I brought. I couldn’t have made a better choice because my Chelsea boots are stylish, classic and go with absolutely anything. Most importantly they keep my feet perfectly dry. 


3. Layering is Key

It doesn’t get as cold in London as it does in New York, but there will be days when you need more than just a jacket. Avoid a puffy winter parka: bring a lightweight jacket that still keeps you dry and warm. That way, it’ll be easier to bring with you on any of your travels throughout the UK or Europe. I brought the detachable rain shell from my winter coat which is light so it doesn’t take up too much space in my suitcase. I also brought two sweatshirts, a casual NYU crew neck and a nicer Patagonia for layering under my coat.

4. Back to the Basics

I was tempted to bring all of my favorite pieces but that’s not practical. Instead, I made a chart of everything I was bringing so that I could narrow it down to what I needed. Four pairs of jeans, two sweaters, ten t-shirts, two black dresses and a few flannels are all I brought in the way of school clothes and it all fit in half a suitcase. You would be surprised by how many outfits you can make with just a few articles of clothing! I did allow myself a few of my favorite statement pieces that I couldn’t bear to part with, though: my denim jacket and my designated “Les Mis” dress (red, because what other color is befitting of Les Mis?). The key point is: statement pieces should not be all you pack. Your wardrobe should be comprised of the basics that can be worn on an everyday basis. 

Image by Rubbermaid Products via  Flickr

Image by Rubbermaid Products via Flickr


5. The Everything Else

NYU housing provides linens, towels and kitchenware. Your “everything else” should be toiletries, electronics, travel documents and anything else you feel you can’t live without for a semester. A good rule of thumb for toiletries is to bring enough face wash, makeup remover, shampoo and conditioner for a week and then to buy more in London. Books, school supplies, groceries, full-sized soaps and anything else you might need can be bought here. They might not have the same brands as the States and you might have to go to a few stores before you find what you’re looking for. But ultimately, London is a city and you will be able to find everything you need.

Image by Gabrielle Roehr

Image by Gabrielle Roehr


Your adventure abroad is an exciting experience, but the weeks leading up to your departure are definitely stressful and overwhelming. Don’t let that stress get the best of you when it comes to packing! Make a list and remember that you can get by with the basics — you don’t want to be burdened with a million things to keep track of in the airport. Besides, all the extra space will come in handy when you’re coming home with souvenirs and mementos from your time as an expat! 

Written by: Gabrielle Roehr

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