USA Travel Checklist: Must-Haves for International Students to Study Abroad

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USA Travel Checklist: Must-Haves for Overseas Students to Study Abroad

Did you get an offer letter from your dream university in the US? Congratulations! Now all that is left is to work on your USA travel checklist to get you safe and sound to “the Land of Opportunities”. Since the country will be your home during your study abroad for the next few years, it’s vital to know what essentials to carry along to make your stay there more comfortable. So read this blog to discover all the items that you need (and don’t need) to pack for your relocation to the US. We will also shed some light on the finances and the amount of luggage you can carry during the move. Let’s get started!


USA Travel Checklist: Essential Items

All in all, your USA travel checklist as an international student can be divided into 5 main categories: documents, clothing, personal care, electronics, and other items. Having different travel rules and regulations for each category of travellers, international students must carry the following essentials to commence their stay and study in the US:

Essential Documents

Given below is the list of essential documents you need to enter and stay in the US as an international student. You must make sure to keep these documents safely in one file to present to the US Immigration Officers during your transit:

  1. Valid passport
  2. Student visa
  3. Flight tickets
  4. Original academic transcripts
  5. Medical prescriptions
  6. Travel and health Insurance
  7. Travel itinerary
  8. Vaccination certificate
  9. Copies of your documents
  10. Boarding pass
  11. International driving permit
  12. Proof of financial support


As a country, the US sees a variety of climates across its different regions. The East Coast and Midwest experience all 4 seasons (warm, humid summers, pleasant fall and spring, and mild to cold winters). But the West Coast and the Southwest see warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters. Depending on where you choose to live and study, here’s all the clothing that should make it to your USA travel checklist:

  1. Long sleeve shirts
  2. Sweater
  3. Shirt
  4. Suit
  5. Jeans
  6. Shorts
  7. Traditional attire
  8. Underwear
  9. Shoes
  10. Socks
  11. Necktie
  12. Formal trousers
  13. Swimming trunks
  14. Track Pants
USA Travel Checklist


Since electronic gadgets are a necessity for international students, here are the ones you can include in your USA travel checklist:

  1. Headphones/Earphones
  2. Laptop
  3. Smartphone
  4. Chargers
  5. Pen drives
  6. USB cable
  7. Scientific calculator
  8. Digital camera
  9. Extra batteries
  10. External Hard Disk drive (HDD)
  11. Universal adapter

Personal Care

Another important category in your USA travel checklist is the personal care items you use daily. Here’s a list of travel-size toiletries you must pack as an international student. Once you reach the US, you can buy these products from local stores in your area :

  1. Toothbrush and toothpaste
  2. Shampoo and conditioner
  3. Soap
  4. Face wash
  5. Deodorant
  6. Sunscreen
  7. Comb
  8. Lip balm
  9. Medication
  10. Razor
  11. Contact lenses
  12. Feminine hygiene
  13. Makeup
  14. Perfume
  15. Face wipes
  16. Moisturizer
  17. Sanitizer
  18. Bandage
  19. Bug spray


In addition to the above essentials, given below is a list of miscellaneous items you can consider packing in your suitcase:

  1. Small first-aid kit
  2. Water bottle
  3. Small sewing kit
  4. Favorite homemade snacks
  5. Adaptor for SIM Card
  6. Bedding
  7. Kitchenware
  8. Towels
  9. Converter plugs

For a more specific USA travel checklist for international students, download this free PDF below:

USA Travel Checklist: Finance

With the USA travel checklist ready, you need to figure out the travel finances. Although credit and debit cards are widely accepted payment methods in the country, you must carry USD 1000-2000 in hand to cover the commuting expenses from the airport to your student accommodation. It’s also helpful to keep a Forex card for daily purchases at the grocery store. 

Given below are some other travel expenses students should keep in mind:

Air ticket fare to the USUSD 250 – 1138
Student visa application feeUSD 160 – 350
Average annual cost of living in the USUSD 10,000 – 25,000 per year

Also Read: Europe Travel Checklist: What to Pack Before for Your Trip?

What NOT to Add to Your USA Travel Checklist?

According to the US Customs and Border Protection, international students should avoid including the following items in their USA travel checklist. They are strictly restricted from entering the nation, and you can check out the specific prohibitions on these items at their official website for further information:

  1. Absinthe (Alcohol)
  2. Alcoholic beverages
  3. Automobiles
  4. Biological materials
  5. Ceramic tableware
  6. Cultural artefacts and cultural property
  7. Defence articles or items with military/Proliferation applications
  8. Dog and cat fur
  9. Drug paraphernalia
  10. Firearms
  11. Fish and wildlife
  12. Food products (raw and prepared)
  13. Prior notice for food importation
  14. Fruits and vegetables
  15. Game and hunting trophies
  16. Gold
  17. Haitian animal hide drums
  18. Medication
  19. Merchandise from embargoed countries
  20. Pets
  21. Photographic film
  22. Plants and seeds
  23. Soil
  24. Textiles and clothing
  25. Trademark and copyrighted articles

USA Travel Checklist: Baggage Limit for International Students

Now that you know what to and what not to add to your USA travel checklist, you can start packing. However, the airlines have a baggage limit for both carry-ons and checked-in luggage. Given below are the general specifications regarding the allowed baggage for international students:

Baggage dimensions limit158 cm (62 inches)
Total weight limit23 kg (50 pounds)
Maximum weight for carry-ons5-10 kg

Also Read: Packing List for Ireland: Know What You Need to Carry for Your Studies Abroad

USA Travel Checklist: Last-Minute Tips

Once you are all packed and ready to go, the following tips should help smooth out any last-minute hassles in your USA travel checklist:

  1. Make sure you have all your essential documents like your passport, visa, student ID, health insurance information, and any bank documents easily accessible.
  2. Bring an adequate supply of any prescription medications you need, along with a doctor’s letter explaining them.
  3. Research banks near your university that offer student accounts with low fees to manage your finances easily.
  4. Carry some US dollars for initial expenses like transportation upon arrival (around USD 1000-2000).
  5. Download translation apps, public transport apps for your city, and mobile banking apps for your US bank (if you opened one).
  6. Get familiar with basic American greetings, social etiquette, and tipping practices to avoid misunderstandings.
  7. Having an offline map or app downloaded can be a lifesaver if you get lost upon arrival.

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Q.1 What do I need when travelling to the USA?

Answer: As an international student, you will need the following documents to enter the USA:

1. Passport (with 6 months of validity remaining)
2. Student visa (F or M)
3. Offer letter from your university
4. Original academic transcripts
5. Vaccination certificate
6. Travel and health insurance
7. Standard test scores (IELTS, TOEFL, GRE, GMAT)
8. I-20 Form
9. SEVIS Fee receipt
10. LOR and SOP

Q.2 What are the electronic gadgets I can carry with me to the USA?

Answer: A universal adapter is a must-have, as the US uses a different plug type than many other countries. Also, pack a portable charger and extra cables for your devices, remember to bring your headphones if you plan on studying or travelling on public transport.

Q.3 What are some things I can do to prepare for the culture in the US?

Answer: Learning basic American greetings and social etiquette phrases can go a long way. Research tipping practices in restaurants and cafes, as it’s customary in the US. Get familiar with the climate in your university’s location to pack appropriate clothing.

We hope this blog gave you a complete insight into the USA travel checklist for international students. For more such resources on student life abroad, make sure to tune into Leverage Edu daily. Thank you for reading!

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