Packing Essentials

Packing Essentials


Getting Started


There is only one word that can describe the weather in Colorado – unpredictable. The changes have been as extreme as experiencing all four seasons in one day. While it may seem straightforward, packing for a semester in Colorado.


Weather Overview


There are so many reasons CO is a fantastic place to live, but one taken for granted is that we have over 300 days of sunshine a year. The hottest month is August with an average temperature of 87 degrees Fahrenheit. We also do not experience a lot of humidity – unless there is a high amount of rain.


Luckily for us, in the winter snow doesn’t stick around very long and with an average temperature of 45 degrees F. Living at exactly 1 mile high creates an interesting climate. Check out what temperatures you can be expecting month by month.


Things to Keep in Mind


Colorado also has numerous outdoor activities that will all require different attire. It is essential to consider these and plan accordingly based on what you think you will be engaging in during your visit. One basic rule of thumb for CO clothing is layers.


If you plan on going snowboarding/skiing, an excellent list can be found here. If you are planning on going hiking, we have attached an overview of essentials that can help guide your packing. It is always best to bring clothes that can be worn in all seasons here as you will probably experience them all over the duration of your trip.


Colorado Columbine Flower
Colorado State Flower – The Columbine

Throughout the rest of this post, there will be guides to packing for each season, as well as some direction for school/dorm supplies.


Reasons to Pack Light:

We suggest you bring two sizable suitcases and one backpack from home.

packing light with only one suitcase

Also, know that any item marked with an * means this item is optional depending on your lifestyle.

  • Airport baggage fees
    • These are usually based on the number of bags and their weight
  • Transportation
    • Having more suitcases than hands makes carrying them difficult
    • Fewer things to keep track of.
    • More comfortable to deal with if you plan to do a lot of traveling during or after your CSU Semester.
  • Dorm Room Space
    • Dorm size depends on hall and while CSU has moderate sized rooms storage is still limited
    • Suitcases are very difficult to store.



Make a list/spreadsheet of everything you bring. Update it every time you make a purchase. This way you can be sure you don’t forget anything when it’s time to leave.

Items marked with an * are not necessary for everyone



Photo by Annie Spratt
  • Snow Coat
  • Rain Coat
  • Sweatshirts/Sweaters



  • Short Sleeves
  • Long Sleeves
  • Tank tops
  • Dress Shirt



  • Shorts
  • Jeans or everyday pants
  • Dress pants or Skirt
  • shoes for studying abroadSweats or Leggings



  • Running/Hiking Shoes
  • Snow Boots
  • Everyday Shoes
  • Flipflop/Thongs: you will need these for the dorm shower
  • Dress shoes


Other Clothes

cloth for studying abroad

  • Pajamas
  • Underwear
  • Socks 
  • Bras*
  • Swim Suit
  • Dress*
  • Hat
  • Gloves

Tech and Cords

  • Phone and Charger
  • Laptop and Charger
    • Many American professors will require you to bring one to class for assignments (if you don’t have one don’t stress in another post we’ll cover how to get one)
  • Headphones
  • Flash Drive
  • Kindle or other e-readers*
  • Rechargeable Battery Pack
    • So you can keep your tech charged for the entire plane ride and drive to Fort Collins. (Depending on your airline your plane may have a charging outlet)
  • Camera, Camera Charger, Backup Memory Card*
  • Multiple Outlet Adapters:
    • American outlets are likely to be different shapes and voltages than the ones at home so you will need adapters. It’s a good idea to look up if the outlets/plugs in your home country are compatible with American outlets. You will also likely want to charge/plug in more than one thing at a time.



We suggest packing travel sized ones and buying full-size items once you arrive.

  • Teeth Items: Toothpaste, Toothbrush, Floss
  • Soap: Shampoo, Conditioner, Body Soap, Face Wash,
  • DeodorantTravel Toiletries Bag
  • Hair: Brush/Comb, Pins, and Hair Bands
  • Makeup*
  • Eye Care*: Contacts (you need enough to cover the duration of your trip), Contact solution, Glasses, Glasses Case
  • Feminine Hygiene*: Tampons, Pads, Other Menstrual Products



Check with the U.S. embassy before bringing any medicines to the U.S. 

Pills and pill bottles to show what you shouldn't bring abroad

Some medicines that are legal in your home country may not be legal here. It one of your medications is necessary, but not legal, don’t worry there is just a bit of extra paperwork you need to do before bringing it in.

Other Items

Sunglasses for study abroad trip

Reading a book on way to study abroad trip at Colorado State University
Photo by Tanja Heffner
  • Book to read on the plane*
  • Lock
  • Jewelry*
  • Wallet
  • Watch
  • Sunglasses
  • Belt
  • Workout Clothes

Things Not to Bring

Hair Dryers: due to different voltages yours may not work, and it’s not worth the space it will take up

Knives: will cause you problems in the airport

Anything you can live without or buy once you arrive.


Things You May Not Think to Bring

Travel Bag

When coming on exchange, it can be so easy to get carried away with all the excitement and hype of traveling abroad to a country that you may have never gone to before.

It is so much fun to start packing your suitcase with all the things you think you will need for your semester abroad and possibly for the places which you are traveling to while on exchange.

Packing clothing items, personal items and even school-related items may seem obvious, but there are a few things that you should consider bringing over with you.

Map of World

Do not forget that you are traveling thousands of miles away from the comforts of everything that seems “normal” to you. You are not only leaving your home university but your bed, your family, your friends, your pets and even things you might not realize how much you will miss such as your car!

Participating in a semester abroad can often be quite difficult at times as everything at CSU is new/foreign to you. In order to help improve your transition into college life, it is important that you bring a few things from home that remind you of who you are and where you come from.


Some things that you may consider bringing with you include:

  • Photos of you with your family, friends, pets, and photos of your favorite placesPillow
  • blu-tak / pins to stick your pictures up on your wall
  • A blank journal – this will allow you to document your experiences
  • Something from home, such as a throw, pillow or toy to make your room feel more like home
  • Some of your favorite foods from back home (but make sure you can bring them over successfully through customs)


This may seem like a very interesting list of things to consider bringing overseas with you, especially when you are trying to cram six months worth of clothes into a single suitcase, but it can make a difference when you start to feel homesick while here in Colorado.

Seeing familiar things and objects can make you feel more comfortable and allow you to feel a sense of ownership over your personal space. However, everyone is unique, and not all of these items are necessary items that everyone who is coming to CSU will require, but it is worth some consideration.


So, what do actual exchange students suggest you bring?

Map of World Flags

“In hindsight, if there was one thing you could have brought from back home what would you have brought?”


Georgia – Australia Picture of Georgia


“ I would probably have to say a good quality set of thermals… it is absolutely freezing compared to back home.”



Picture of Kristen - Exchange Student from UK

Kristen – UK

“ Honestly I wish I had brought with me a full piece swimming costume so I could do laps in the rec center pool. I also would have brought more snacks from home as I miss them.” 


Sussanah- AustraliaPicture of Sussanah


“ I would have brought another power-board that takes my Australian outlets as I need more outlets!”



Picture of JedJed – New Zealand


“I wish I could have brought my dog”





Share with a friend!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *