Studying Abroad in the USA – Here is How to Pack the Right Way

Studying Abroad in the USA - Here is How to Pack the Right Way

Are you confused about what you’re going to bring along while studying abroad in the U.S.? Packing everything you need in a limited amount of space for your move to a new country can be a difficult task.

With this packing list, you can be sure of two things: You will not forget the things you’ll need, and you will not take unnecessary things along. Be sure to use this checklist before heading to the airport to make your big move to the U.S.

Before we start with the checklist, here are some packing tips:

  1. Don’t forget to take the basics. A T-shirt, a solid sweater, and denim pants. Make sure you take at least these basic clothes along. You can accessorize and wear them on different occasions.
  2. Take clothes that fit the weather in your school’s location. If you’re someone who is living in an equatorial region and making a move to the U.S., the weather will be colder than you imagine. Make sure to pack winter and rainy clothes.
  3. Don’t overpack. You can find all the necessities in the U.S. You only need to pack the things that will be expensive or unavailable there.
  4. Keep hygiene and medical products to a minimum. Just bring a few essentials along. You can always buy more specific products when you reach your destination.
  5. In case you have any prescription medicines, make sure to take them along. You may not be able to immediately find them in your destination city.
  6. Always keep in mind that you will shop once you arrive in the U.S. You don’t need to increase the size of your bags and end up paying extra luggage costs at the airport.

International Student Packing Checklist

Things to Keep in Your Carryon Bag

While you won’t have a lot of space in your carryon bag, they can come in handy. Checked bags can get lost, especially when you’re travelling to far-off places. While this isn’t necessarily common, you should prepare yourself for the worst. You can likely get your checked luggage back, but the process can take a few days. So, it’s better to keep these essentials in your carryon:

  • Passport, visa, other important documents, and their copies
  • Phone and charger
  • Laptop and charger
  • Credit and debit card(s)
  • U.S. currency (about $100 USD)
  • Eye Mask
  • Earplugs
  • Earphones and/or headphones
  • Prescription medicines and their written prescription
  • At least two forms of ID
  • Plane tickets and boarding pass
  • Portable power bank
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Mask(s)
  • Reusable bottle (empty)
  • Antibacterial wipes
  • Wallet
  • Worldwide outlet adapter

Things to Keep in Your Suitcase

Your suitcase is where you will keep the bulk of your things. All your clothes, toiletries and other essentials will go in your checked bag. We’ll go over all these one by one.


  • Two to three pairs of jeans
  • Solid basic T-shirts
  • Thermal undershirt (depending on the weather of your destination)
  • Casual hoodies and sweatshirts
  • A faux leather/fur or a denim jacket
  • A couple pairs of shorts/skirts
  • Two weeks’ worth of underwear
  • Two pairs of shoes
  • Flip-flops or home slippers
  • Two sets of formal clothing
  • Belts
  • Pajamas
  • Workout clothes
  • Raincoat or waterproof jackets (depending on your destination’s climate)
  • About four pairs of socks


  • A cross-body bag or a fanny pack for your casual outfits
  • A backpack or tote bag
  • A jewelry case for your valuables
  • Your favorite cosmetics
  • Hairbrush and hair ties
  • Sunscreen
  • A couple of tampons and pads if appropriate
  • A small umbrella
  • Towels


  • A first-aid kit with bandages, anti-allergy medicines, etc.
  • Shaving kit
  • Tissues
  • Deodorants and perfumes
  • Travel-size shampoo and conditioner
  • Travel-size shower gel
  • Travel-size toothpaste
  • Toothbrush
  • Nail clippers and Q-tips
  • Preferred skincare products

Things You Shouldn’t Take Along

Here are a few things that are best left behind.

  • Electric hairstyling tools – This includes hairdryers, curling irons, etc. It’s better to buy new versions of these items once you arrive in the U.S. The voltage system in the U.S. means the ones you have likely won’t work. You can purchase these at any department store or drugstore.
  • Large bottles of shampoo and conditioner – It is unnecessary to increase the weight of your checked luggage. You can buy larger versions once you arrive.
  • Bedsheet, pillows and pillow covers – It’s unlikely that your sheets or pillow covers will even fit the bed in your dorm, and they will take up unnecessary luggage space.
  • Unnecessary clothes – You should avoid taking clothes that you haven’t worn in a long time, and the ones that don’t go well with anything.
  • Books – Books are heavy. If you have specific titles you want to bring along, use a Kindle or electronic reader. Otherwise, your campus will have a library and bookstore that can provide you with plenty to read.  

Before we reach the end of our checklist, let’s go over one last crucial necessity. Make sure you compare and buy international student medical insurance before you move to the U.S.

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