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  • Writer's pictureMeghan Pruitt

Semester at Sea Packing Guide

Updated: Apr 4, 2023

Here is my ultimate packing guide to study abroad for 4 months!

Packing for an international trip can be stressful enough. Let alone packing to live on a ship for months with limited access to the outside world.

I started packing for my voyage pretty early on as there are tons of little things that are easy to forget. As time went on I found myself adding items to my list. To make this process easier for you I have created a Semester at Sea packing guide to help you get started.

I have included a free pdf of my packing guide at the bottom of this page for your use!

Without further ado I bring to you...

The Ultimate Semester at Sea Packing Guide

I filmed a pack with me video on my YouTube channel that shows you everything in depth and how I packed.


Finding the right luggage for you is an important part of this packing process. I did lots of research to find the best options for me. Of course you can use luggage that you already own, however you do have to keep in mind that you are packing for a 4 month trip around the world!

Semester at Sea does have a bag limit when embarking the ship. For my voyage we were allowed 2 checked bags, one carry on and one personal item. This has been the baggage limit for awhile now but it could change so double check on the SAS website.

Suitcases: As you can see above I did purchase two rolling duffels for the voyage. You have to store all of your luggage within the cabin so this is why people recommend the duffels.

The rolling duffels can fold down and are very easy to store underneath the bed. I knew a couple of people that had traditional luggage and they were also able to store it underneath their bed. However depending on your cabin type it might be a little bit difficult to get everything situated with the hardshells. I did not want to spend a ton on new luggage so I went for duffels that were affordable but also good quality.

Gonex 110L Rolling Duffle: For $105.99 this piece held up pretty well. This luggage was very spacious which was helpful at the end of the voyage (packing to go home is even harder than the beginning).

High Sierra 70L Wheeled Drop Bottom : $79.99 I liked this piece as the drop bottom made organization easy. The quality was 10/10 with thick weather resistant fabric. For me personally I would have liked a bigger size for SAS but this got the job done and I still use it frequently today.

Travel Backpack: This was one of the BEST items I brought for Semester at Sea. I used this for all of my in country travel and it was perfect.

Dinictis 40L Laptop Backpack: I had tons of room for everything and plan to use this for all of my future travels!

Travel Duffle Bag: This was what I brought on for embarkation however I only used it in country once as most of my travels were a couple of days overnight. This would be ideal for a 1 or 2 night stay.

I did just receive this Bagsmart Wanderland travel duffle and I prefer this one over the previous one. Use code "meghan15" for 15% off of your Bagsmart order!

Tote bag: Now for my infamous pink tote. I carried this almost everyday in country during the day and I used this as my "backpack" on the ship for classes.

Shein Pink Tote: For $8.99 this bag held up SO well and I would stuff it full!

Packing Cubes: Definitely a must in order to make packing for Semester at Sea easier. I used them for just about everything to keep it organized!

I went with two sets of cubes: Travelizer Packing Cubes & Vagreez Packing Cubes

Luggage Tags: You will have several pieces of luggage when embarking on the ship. You want to have tags on them incase they get lost! I bought this pack of four.


This was the hardest part for me throughout the packing process. Everyone tells you to not pack as many clothes as you think and I would agree with this to an extent. One of my biggest tips is to check the average weather for the month you will be in each country in order to pack your clothes accordingly. The Fall voyages typically have warmer weather so our packing was a bit easier as we didn't have to bring heaving clothing.

Tip: Lay out all of your clothes and then pack accordingly.

The ship does get cold so I packed some warmer items since half of your time is spent on the MV World Odyssey. Also keep in mind you will buy clothes in the countries!

Below is a list of what I packed/ what i recommend:

2 t-shirts: I wore these to bed and on a chill day on the ship occasionally.

3 mini shirts: I wore mini casual shirts for more modest countries.

5 tank tops: I was able to pack a lot of these because they are very small and dont take up much room.

5 bodysuits: Again easy to pack and good to have a variety.

2 going out tops: I had a black wrap top so this was the only one I brought... I would say one or two is good.

2 athletic tops: Good for working out or casual days on the ship.

1 cardigan: I had a white cardigan that was perfect for in country and on the ship.

1 white button up: I did not bring this but I wish I did!

2 long sleeves: Again the ship is cold so it was nice to have this as an option.

1 sweatshirt: You only need one because lots of people will buy the SAS sweatshirts from the store.

1 sweater: I had one sweater incase it got cold.

1 zip up jacket: I wore this a lot on the ship over my short sleeve tops.

1 rain jacket: This is good to have just incase... I did end up using mine in Spain!

1 leather jacket: If you get cold like me I would recommend bringing this as it would get a little cold at night.

2 leggings: This was the perfect amount for sea days.

2 jeans: I had one light wash pair and a pink pair.

2 travel friendly pants: I originally brought one white pair of flowy pants but I ended up buying a lot more in country! These will be your best friend especially in the more modest countries.

2 sweatpants: Perfect for colder sea days and at night on the ship.

2 athletic shorts: Good for working out or casual days on the ship.

2 long skirts: I tried to find some skirts before going on SAS but I couldn't. I borrowed a friends skirt and I would definitely recommend to bring at least one.

1 mini skirt: Good for hotter in country travel days.

3 casual shorts: This is what most of my outfits consisted of in country.

6 casual dresses: I wish I had brought more casual day dresses. This makes for an easy and cute outfit.

1 alumni ball dress: Everyone dresses up for the alumni ball so bring your dress before hand!

2 pairs of pajamas: I wore my t-shirts to bed but whatever works for you!

5 bikinis: I felt this was a good amount for pool days on the ship as well as traveling in country.

1 business outfit: Depending on your class you might have to dress business casual for your field class so be prepared with one outfit. I brought a nicer bodysuit to pair with black pants.

1 tennis shoe: I wore my Hokas everyday on the ship which were comfortable and practical.

1 casual sneaker: I wore Dr Scholls sneakers everyday while in country. And when I say everyday I mean it, so get yourself a good pair of casual walking shoes.

1 slippers: This isn't a must but if you love wearing slippers at home I would bring them for the ship at night.

1 heel: I wore my heels twice; once for fancy dinner and for alumni ball.

1 sandal: I only ended up wearing my sandals once or twice since I walked a ton in the countries.

1 flip flops: I used these as my shower shoes for in country travel!

Underwear/socks: Bring as much as you feel necessary.


I did not bring a ton for this category but here are the few that I did.

Jewelry organizer: I kept all of my jewelry in this organizer which was easy to store and it was able to hold a good amount.

Sunglasses: I brought 2 pairs- a casual pair and a little bit nicer one.

Cross body purse: This was helpful to keep all of your belongings safe.

Strapless bra/pasties: Self explanatory but came in handy for certain outfits.


This was another tricky part of the packing process. If your are picky about certain brands then you need to plan accordingly to last you the entire voyage.

This is everything except for my clothes. I know, it's a LOT. But I managed to make everything fit.

Toiletry Hanging Organizer: This is the organizer I brought my toiletries in.

Shampoo/conditioner: I would recommend a 16-20 oz bottle of each if you have long hair. I brought 33oz bottles and that was too much.

Face/body wash: I brought both of these in bar form in order to save space.

Moisturizer/lotion: Bring both of these to keep your skin hydrated!

2 toothbrushes: I brought one to stay on the ship and one that traveled with me in country.

Toothpaste: I brought one full size and one travel sized tube.

Sunscreen: This is important since you will be in the sun a lot.

2 deodorants: I would recommend bringing two to be safe. My roommate ended up needing another stick and she did not like the one she purchased from the ship store.

Dry shampoo: This ship does not allow you to bring on aerosols so I purchased this powder dry shampoo that worked great especially for dark hair.

4-6 razors: I brought one razor stick and several blade refills to save room.

Nail Clippers: This is a must and is forgotten easily.

Auto shut off curling iron: This ship tells you to bring auto shut off hair tools with the manual showing proof. On my voyage they didn't check anyones hair tools. But to be on the safe side I would. But be sure the wattage is under 100!!! Mine was 750 watts and it broke the first time I tried to use it on the ship.

Hairbrush: I love my wet-brush especially since the ship water is not great for your hair.

Hair ties: I brought several hair ties and scrunchies since I lose them easily!

Feminine products: Bring enough to last you 4-5 months!

Make-up: I brought almost all new makeup so it would last me the whole voyage.

Cotton pads: I use these daily so I brought 4 sleeves.

Micellar water: This is what I use to remove my makeup and one large bottle was perfect.

Travel toiletry bottles: This is probably one of the most useful things I purchased! Instead of buying travel sized toiletries I would fill these up with my products and use this for all of my travels.

Medicine & Prescriptions

Having the proper medicines just incase is important because you never know what will happen or when you might need it! Semester at Sea does have their own list of necessary medications and ones they recommend as well so make sure to check that out.

Malaria pills: This was required for my voyage as we went to Kenya and India where malaria is present. You will have to get a prescription for this so make sure to get the correct amount or else you will pay at least double or triple on the ship.

Travelers diarrhea pills: SAS recommends this as a prescription incase you do get a severe case of td. I got a very small prescription but did not use it. After coming back from countries in Africa and Asia I would see a lot clinic bills outside peoples door for this medication or pepto to cure travelers diarrhea so I would bring it just incase!

Pepto-bismol: I made sure to bring a lot of the chewable version of these to save room vs the liquid. I did use this quite a bit as well as shared with friends when they were in need haha. We also occasionally ate one before a meal just to be safe.

Imodium: Always good to have for emergencies especially if you have a long travel day ahead.

Sea bands: I used these sea bands only a couple of times at the beginning of the voyage when I was getting used to the rocking. If you think you are more prone to sea sickness then I would recommend getting sea patches as well.

Advil: A small pack of this is great for the voyage.

Travelan: This is a pill to take before you eat a meal as a precautionary measure. I did not end up using it as I was very careful with what I ate. If you want to try very authentic and more risky foods I would recommend this.

Cold medicine: Lots of people were sick at the beginning of the voyage so this was good to have.

Vitamins: I had my daily and probiotic vitamins with me.

Emergen-c: I never used this but a couple of my friends did occasionally.

Cough drops: My roommate ended up needing these!

Travel Necessities

These were my MUST haves for traveling that made my life a lot easier!

Local Currency: I highly recommend getting currency for each country beforehand. I got about 50 USD for each country. This saves you money in the long run as you don't have to pay bank and atm fees to get cash in the country.

Insulated & filtered water bottle: I used the Philips GoZero everyday water bottle and this was great to have for the entire voyage. While on the ship you will need a water bottle to fill up at the station on deck 9. The water tastes a little funky sometimes so it was nice to have a filtered bottle! I would fill up my bottle on the ship before going into a country as well as pouring bottled waters into it while traveling.

Microfiber towel: This was perfect for several reasons. One being it takes up way less space than your normal towel. I was able to use this as a beach towel or a towel for drying off after a shower. When the hotel towels were questionable or when there wasn't any. Such as when I stayed at a desert camp in Morocco, this came in handy several times! You also are not allowed to take the towels out of your cabin. I got the 4monster in size extra large.

Passport: The ship will keep your passport while onboard but you will need to take it in country when staying in hotels.

Travel toiletry pack: This was great for saving space and staying organized when traveling overnight.

Yellow fever card: Semester at Sea will not let you on the ship without this so don't forget it!

Mini umbrella: I got this mini umbrella that had a case which kept it super compact for traveling.

Portable fan: This little fan was nice to have as some of the countries we went to got pretty hot. It also doubles as a portable charger.

Sleep sack: I bought this sleep sack just incase and I did end up needing it for some bed sheets in Morocco that weren't the best.

Bug spray/after bite: If you are prone to mosquito bites then you will want to have a good spray with deet and some after bite!


I am a content creator so this list is probably more than the average person would bring. But feel free to get some ideas from this list that you might need! I used this organizer to keep a lot of this stuff organized!

Vlog camera: I have been using the Canon G7x Mark ii for about 4 years now and it held up great for the entire voyage.

Macbook: I used this for all of my schoolwork and editing my Youtube videos. I also had a soft cover since the vibrations on the ship could potentially ruin your laptop.

World travel adapter: I purchased this world adapter for all of my in country travels. I liked that it had an extension cord but it was a little heavy.

Portable charger: This is a must for your time spent traveling in country.

2 European adapters: I used these while on the ship as it is a German ship. Your cabin will have two outlets!

Gopro: I have the Hero8 and it was great for water excursions to use for my vlogs.

Camera batteries: I made sure to bring extra batteries for my vlog camera since I vlogged a lot on and off the ship.

3 Sandisk hard drives: I used these to back up all of my footage. These were perfect as they are super small.

2 memory cards: I had two memory cards for my camera incase I lost one!

Headphones: You wont want to forget these as well as downloading music before you get on the ship!

HDMI cord: I brought this to plug my computer into the tv. This came in handy when we had a powerpoint night or you can use it to watch movies downloaded on your computer.

Usb to usbc converter: Make sure to bring any converters such as these that you might need.

Chargers for everything: Don't forget any of your chargers! Phone, laptop, watch, etc.

Extra phone: Some people brought extra phones in case theirs got stolen or damaged. I did know a couple of people that had their phones get water damaged and had to purchase a new one in country.

School Supplies

Since you are in school you will need a couple of things. You do most of your work on your laptop but I would recommend these couple of items:

Folder: You will need to bring some papers when embarking on the ship. I kept all of this paperwork in my one folder. Throughout the voyage you will receive papers such as your monthly bill which you can keep in here as well.

Sharpies: Everyone participates in map signing at the end of the voyage. Sharpies are used for this and can run out pretty quick. I would recommend bringing at least two.

Scissors: This isn't really a school supply but you will need them for something along the way!

Pens: I went through several pens due to journaling and the written exams I had.

Notebook: I brought one notebook to have scrap paper. This also doubles as a "hard surface" to write on since a lot of the classrooms don't have a desk.

Semester at Sea Specific / Random

And lastly here are some items that you might not think of and don't want to forget!

Speaker: This speaker was nice to have while doing laundry and hanging out in the cabin.

Scrubba: The scrubba is what a lot of people use to do their own laundry on the ship. You can pay $7 a load to have it done for you as well.

Laundry detergent: I bought this powder laundry detergent and it worked really well! I did not use even half of it but I shared with my friends.

Laundry bag: Don't forget to bring a laundry bag to put your dirty clothes in!

Journal: I went through two journals during my voyage! You will experience soo much on your voyage that you might forget so I loved being able to write everything down.

Coffee mug: You can get coffee in both of the dining halls so bring a coffee mug if you plan on drinking it throughout the day!

Travel blanket: I bought this travel blanket that also can be used as a pillow for the long plane ride as well as on my bed in the cabin.

String for laundry: My roommate brought a thick string from walmart that we tied up in our cabin to use as a laundry rack.

Over the door shoe organizer: HIGHLY recommend bringing at minimum one of these for your bathroom door. If I could go back I would have brought another one to go inside of my closet.

Nail polish/remover: This was nice to bring so I could paint my nails throughout the voyage. I also used my portable fan to dry them quicker.

Chapstick: Keeps your lips moisturized haha.

Wrinkle erase spray: I used this after I unpacked my clothes from my luggage. This is helpful because your clothes will get wrinkly with the limited amount of closet space you have.

Card games: This is always fun to have to play with friends!

Travel hangers: This is another must have. The rooms don't come with a certain amount of hangers... my closet came with 13. These hangers were super helpful and kept my closet more organized.

Snacks: Bring a variety of snacks. And bring more than you think. I brought a lot of snacks but not a variety so I got tired of eating the same things.

WOW! That is such a long list. Hopefully this list helped you remember something or get a head start to packing for your study abroad journey.

Here is access to the free pdf packing list that I used during the process. I highlighted each item as I went and this helped me stay organized and not forget anything.


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1 Comment

Sep 24, 2023

This was really helpful, thank you!

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