The 2020 Study Abroad Gift Guide

‘Tis the season for gift giving! Whether you’re looking for a unique item to give or something to add to your own wish list, here are some gifts that’ll set you (or your giftees) up for future travel and study abroad adventures.

Universal plug adapter

Plug adapter sitting on top of clothing in a suitcase
Travel power adapter with connectors for european, UK, and US power plugs on packed suitcase with clothings – travel preparation

You’re not going to be able to show up abroad and just plug your electronics in—but fear not! An adapter will allow you to charge to your heart’s content in countries around the globe, no matter what kind of plug they use. Make sure it includes a voltage converter as well, so you don’t cause any damage to your devices.

Mega pro tip: Don’t listen to what anyone says: even with one of these, do not plug in your hair dryer or straightener! You will A) melt your device or B) knock out the power to your homestay/apartment/dorm…or worse. Instead, buy a cheap local one when you reach your destination.

Portable charger

Phone plugged into portable charger that in a bag. Laing on wooden floor with hat and camera

There’s nothing worse than being in the middle of an adventure and realizing your phone is on 5%—especially since it’s most likely used as your map, your camera, and your only means of communication. A portable charger will save you in a pinch.

USB charging station

Iphone polugged in to a USB charging station

Have you ever wanted to be the most popular person in an airport? A USB charging station is the secret key. Plug one of these into an outlet and help out your new friends—no more fighting over the single outlet that works in the terminal! If someone beat you to the outlet, just suggest that you share it using this handy device. 99% of the time they’ll agree, and then everyone is happy.

Reusable water bottle

Reusable water bottle laying on wooden floor

Save money—and the planet—by purchasing a reusable water bottle to carry around and fill to your heart’s content. Whether your focus is on keeping your water cold for days, or having something handy and portable (like a collapsible bottle), you’re bound to find the perfect one for your needs.

Solid shampoo, conditioner, and toothpaste

9 solid shampoos

Never get stopped by airport security again for being .1 oz. above the travel liquid limit. Get solid (yes, we mean solid as opposed to liquid) versions of these essentials! “But won’t they be terrible? A solid conditioner?!” you may ask. Your worries are understandable, but trust us—these are pretty nifty.

Wireless headphones

Great for travel, working out, cranking out a term paper—wireless headphones are truly versatile gift. It feels like everyone has AirPods, but if you’re looking for an affordable, excellent alternative, we can recommend these—they’ll survive sweaty work outs, long plane rides, getting caught in the rain, and constantly being knocked out of your ears as you take your bike helmet off.

Location candle

White candle with label that says "Australia", as well as box with Australian flag

Candles aren’t just reserved for when you don’t know what else to get grandma. Did you know that scents can trigger vivid memories of the experience they’re associated with? Pro tip: wear a specific scent during your time studying abroad, and it will always transport you back to that time!

Quick-dry travel towel

Folder travel towel

It’s honestly shocking how much room a towel takes up in your bag. While your homestay or dorm might come with a towel, if you’re doing any traveling, it’s always good to have an extra on hand. Not only useful for drying off, a towel is great for beach lounging, picnicking, or as a blanket on that icy cold bus you’re taking for 12 hours. Get a travel-sized one that is also quick drying so you don’t have to throw a damp towel in with all your other things (we’ve been there, and it always ends up with a musty bag).

Clip-on hand sanitizer

Three blue/green bird shaped clip on hand sanitizer dispensers

Look at this vaguely penguin-shaped joy! Snap it to your bag, your belt loop, or what have you, and always have a spritz of sanitizing at your fingertips. Feel free to douse your seat when you get on the plane, as it comes in a handy pack of three. You’ll get to choose a scent as well—perhaps you’ll pick a special one to commemorate your trip, à la suggestion 7 above?

First aid kit

Orange first aid kit box with supplies spread around - bandaids, tape, and ointment

You might be wondering, “What old lady wrote this blog? First aid kit? As a present? Really?” Guess what? Practical gifts make GREAT presents—you’ll understand when you’re older. You’ll be thankful to have a band aid on hand for the cut you don’t recall how you got, or an emergency aspirin supply for when you have a headache from no particular activity. We all know you won’t think to buy band-aids (or plasters) when you go to la farmacia, and look how cute this kit is!

Now that your holiday shopping is complete, it’s time to relax. Get in a festive mood with our holiday playlist, now streaming on Spotify.

Author: International Studies Abroad (ISA)

Since 1987, International Studies Abroad (ISA) has provided college students in the United States and Canada the opportunity to explore the world. ISA offers a wide variety of study abroad programs at accredited schools and universities in 73 program locations throughout the world.

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