With recent restrictions on luggage weight, space in your suitcase is at a premium, so it’s very important to choose and pack the right things. In addition to the basic necessities – clothing, your camera, perhaps your mp3 player – there are a few things that students often forget to bring, and a few things that they wish they had left home.
Please remember to bring the following:
- Prescription medication. Always bring all the medication you will need during your time abroad and a little extra, just in case some gets lost. A few weeks before you leave, make arrangements with your doctor to have extra prescriptions that can be filled before departure. We suggest that you carry prescription medication in your carry-on luggage so that it is sure to arrive with you. It’s a good idea to keep it in its original packaging in case it gets checked by customs officials.
- Written prescriptions. In case you lose or run out of medication by mistake, you should have a written prescription from a doctor with you. This can help us get the prescription filled here locally – but bear in mind that not all medicines are available in Italy: you may end up with a different brand of antihistamine, for example. Remember, you cannot have prescription medicine sent to you from the U.S.: it will get held at Customs and will cost you a great deal of time and money to have it released.
- Glasses and contact lenses. These are very expensive to replace. Contact lens solution is widely available in Italy, even in larger supermarkets. However, you may find it is a bit more expensive than your regular brand of solution.
- Warm clothing. Many students imagine that Italy is always warm and sunny. We’re afraid that’s not the case! Tuscany does have its winters, and while it rains more often than it snows, remember that you will often be walking outside without the warm refuge of a car. Italian homes also tend to be kept cooler than American ones, due to the high cost of heating. We suggest you bring a jacket and a heavier coat, a hat and gloves, some sweaters and warm socks. Italians wear slippers in the house – never bare feet – and carpets are quite rare.
- Cosmetics and other personal care products which are only available in the U.S. If you use a specific brand of cosmetics and you’re sure it can’t be easily purchased in Italy, we suggest you bring your own supply. This is because cosmetics and personal care products (face creams, cleansers, etc.) are subject to the same Customs regulations as prescription medication. In other words, they cannot be sent from the U.S. without incurring a hefty fee and long delays.
- An adapter and/or converter for your electronics. While these are available in Italy, you may have to look for them. It’s a good idea to consult a salesperson in a shop at home to see which adapters or converters you’ll need for items like laptops and battery chargers.
And here are some things that are best left at home:
- Toiletries. You may not find the brand you’re used to, but all the basics and more can be found here in Italy, even in supermarkets.
- School supplies and stationery. Again, they may not look like your favorite American brands but they’re widely available. However, if you use flash cards for language learning, you may want to bring those.
- Food. You may have trouble bringing food through Customs. For the same reason, it’s also difficult to get food sent by mail. Take a few months off your usual American foods and enjoy the wonderful delicacies that Italy has to offer!
- Your hairdryer, shaver, etc. If you attempt to plug in an American hairdryer, it could blow a fuse, ruin the hairdryer and give you quite a scare. It’s better to purchase an inexpensive hairdryer here and share the expense among roommates.