Air Travel

Whether this is your first time or your 50th time flying to the USA, advice about traveling is always helpful. After all, if you’re moving across the world to learn stuff, you might as well as start now.

Before flying
Arrive at the airport at least two hours before your flight is scheduled to depart. Even if the check-in goes quickly, security lines can be long, gates can be far away, and goodbyes can be hard.

Most airlines will allow you to check in to your flight online 24 hours in advance. This is a great way to cross something off your list, but if you arranged for any special requests such as special meals then it may be easier to check in at the check-in counter at the airport so you can confirm everything.

Charge all your electronic devices before you leave, and keep recharging them whenever possible. You’ll be happy you did when you’re sitting on an old plane that doesn’t have charging outlets and your phone has to last for the next 18 hours.

Make sure to keep an extra set of clothes and an umbrella in your carry-on bags, and pack layers. We all know that if you don’t pack them then your second flight will be cancelled and you’ll be forced to wear the same clothes for 48 hours and then exit the airport in a thunderstorm. 

Pack many snacks and a refillable water bottle. International flights tend to serve passengers meals, but most domestic flights within the USA don’t provide food, or do so at a cost. Plus, you never know how long your flight will be delayed or if you’ll be hungry or thirsty between meals you’re served. However, you can’t bring produce or certain other foods into the USA, so either pack snacks accordingly or finish them all before you land. 

Similarly, the USA has restrictions for liquids. Though you may be flexible with what you can fly with when leaving your home country, if you have a domestic connection in the USA then you must follow the liquid rules. Don’t forget that this not only applies to obvious things like drinks but also to toiletries such as contact solution, lotion, etc., so plan ahead! 

During flying
Keep your passport, visa info, important documents, and extra cash with you at all times. We cannot stress that enough.

Books and other fun – but not electronic – activities are always smart to travel with. Don’t rely on the screens on the plane working, on your phone or tablet having enough battery power, or on your layover airport having books in your native language.

After landing
By definition, you’ll be traveling on an international flight to get to the USA. When you land in the USA, you will have to go through customs and passport control, including picking up your luggage. If you’re transferring to a domestic flight afterwards, you’ll need to check your luggage in again with the airline to ensure it gets to your final destination.

Once you finally arrive at your school, you’ll have to contend with jetlag. This is extremely common and it tends to take an hour or so per day to acclimate to your new time zone. In other words, if your home country is seven hours ahead of your new time zone, it may take seven days to match your body to the clock.