You’ve decided to Study Abroad in Barbados. CONGRATULATIONS! You’re about to embark on one of the most exciting, culture-filled experiences of your life! I’m sure your head is whirling with ideas of what you will see and do. Let me assure you, living in Barbados truly is living in paradise. But to enjoy paradise to its fullest, be sure to come prepared and pack responsibly!  

First Things First: Get the Right Luggage 

I have been living out of one 60 L backpack and one small gym duffle bag for the past 8 months so if I can do it, you can too! A lot of international students travel with TWO FULL SIZED SUITCASES. Granted I am a minimalist at heart, but personally I think extensive travel with a suitcase is just too much. They are hard to get around, and don’t always fit well in the trunks of smaller cars in other countries. Not to mention, most airlines allow for one checked bag free for international travel. This means that you would have to pay extra both ways for your second checked bag. If a second checked bag is a must for you, at least bring a relatively empty one so that you have space to bring back souvenirs and gifts.

I bought my backpack at Big 5 (I worked at Big 5 for four years to help pay for school, so most of my gear is from there) three years ago $64 with a coupon while it was on sale. It has been one of the best purchases I have ever made.

I also bought my Under Armour duffle at Big 5 for $35. I am not usually loyal to any particular brand, but I decided to go with an Under Armour bag because most of them are water resistant and I knew I would be traveling through rainy/snowy areas this year. That being said, you can find large brand non-specificduffels for around $15. Personally, I prefer not traveling with black luggage so that it is easier to spot coming off the airport carousel.

 Packers Tip: Be sure to pack AT LEAST one change of clothes, PJS, and basic toiletries in your carry on. While traveling from Ghana to Germany my checked bag got lost (don’t worry, it was found and delivered to my house five days after I arrived) and I made the mistake of not having extra clothes. Fortunately, my travel buddy and I are around the same size so I could wear her clothes for a couple days. Now I travel with all my socks and underwear in my carry on because it’s easy to wear the same shirt a for a couple days, but it’s always nice to have clean underwear. 

Clothing and Accessories

(Seeing as I am only speaking from first-hand experience, this section is geared more towards females. Sorry guys!) 

The average day time high in Barbados is between 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit. Take the heat in addition with humidity and it can get quite warm so bring comfortable, flowy clothing. Don’t bring anything you absolutely love. Between the massive amount of bug repellent,

the sunscreen oils, and the suns rays, most of your clothing will get destroyed. My ex-favorite pair of short shorts now look like “mom jeans” on me, and all of my shirts are several shades lighter than they were when I first arrived in Barbados.  

  • 7 shirts/dresses 

Bring enough shirts/dresses to last you one week of wear. Clothing is affordable in Bridgetown (I have purchased several shirts and dresses for between $7.50 and $20 U.S.) and a lot of the styles are quite cute.  

  • 1 pair of jeans 
  • 2-3 pairs of shorts 

 Bring at least one pair of jeans, but nothing designer. They will get ruined whether it be from the sand, the sun, or a number of other things. Also, it’s way too hot to wear jeans during the day. The humidity affects us Californians, it’s VERY different from dry heat. I live in shorts, day and night here. I miss sleeping in pajama pants, here it’s too hot for me to sleep in anything but shorts and a tank top. 

  • 2-3 “night on the town” outfits and one pair of “going out” shoes 

Barbados is paradise, and in paradise there are plenty of places to go out and have a good time. While several places are casual, it’s nice to have a couple “nicer” outfits to go out in. When I go out, I usually wear jeans and a nice blouse because if I wear a dress I get eaten alive by the mosquitos.  

  • AT LEAST two bathing suits 

International students are well known for always being at the beach here in Barbados. It’s true, we simply cannot get enough of the crystal-clear water and white sandy beaches. Sometimes I even wear my bathing suit under my clothes and head down straight after class! I brought a one piece that I purchased in South Africa, and a two piece from Old Navy. Because I have very

fair skin, it’s nice to have a one piece as it allows me to go to the beach but keep my stomach out of the sun.  

  • 1 rain jacket

I bought my Columbia rain jacket on Amazon for $40 (vs. paying over $200 at REI) and I love it. I suggest getting one with zippers under the armpits to help keep you cool. I also love mine because it can fit inside it’s pocket to make it compact for packing purposes! 

  • 2-3 shorts and tank tops for sleeping

 It’s always nice to have a comfy pair of shorts and a tank top for sleeping or lounging around your house/dorm. Especially if you’re trying to adjust to sleeping in a climate that is MUCH warmer than California’s winter. 

  • 2-3 hats and 2-3 pairs of sunglasses 

Especially if you have fair skin, bring at least two hats. While I admit that my naturally curly hair is sick of me wearing hats all the time, but skin is very appreciative. I would also bring multiple pairs of sunglasses in case one pair breaks or gets lost.  

  • 2-3 sets of workout clothes/1 pair of running shoes 

I have my spandex tights/shorts and running tank tops, which make it much cooler for my morning runs. UWI also has a (VERY) small gym that is free for all students.  

  • 2 pairs of comfortable walking sandals 

 Some days it is simply too hot to wear closed-toed shoes outside. This problem is solved by getting a comfy pair of walking sandals (bonus points if you can wear them in the water!). I have a lovely pair of Keens that are great for long distance walking and wading in the water; but sadly they’re not the most stylish shoes on the planet. If you have more of a sense of fashion than I do (and let’s face it, most people do, I have no “sense of style”), I would recommend Chacos or Born sandals. They’re both on the pricier side, but your feet will thank you for it after you walk endless miles in them. And they last forever so it’s worth the investment. Be sure to check your local Ross or TJ Max. I found a pair of Born sandals last summer for $30 at TJ Max when they retailed for over $100! 

  • All the socks/bras/underwear you have! 

Really, a traveller can never have too many pairs of socks or underwear. I bought Under Armour “one size fits all” underwear before I left. It’s quite expensive ($12 a pair!) but I’m really grateful I brought them because after living in West Africa, I lost a lot of weight so it’s nice to have underwear that still fit me well.   

Unfortunately that’s all the time I have right now. Tune in next week for the second half of the Packing List which will include things such as toiletries, mosquito repellent/sun screen recommendations, and bank card advice! And don’t worry. It may seem like a lot of work to get ready, but soon you will be living in paradise!  

Angela Howard studied abroad in Cave Hill, Barbados, in Spring 2017: