The following checklist will help you make sure you haven’t missed anything important.

  • Money, credit cards, checkbook, traveler’s checks, financial records (copy of bank statements and list of account numbers), PIN codes for your bank cards
  • Emergency Money (keep US$100 hidden somewhere on your person in the event of an emergency)
  • Clothing, including shoes, coats, cold weather clothing, and rain gear
  • Official academic transcripts and English translations
  • Medical and dental records, including immunization and vaccination records and prescriptions, eyeglasses, insurance records
  • Marriage certificate and birth certificates for all family members
  • Passport and plane tickets, Form I-20
  • National and international driver’s licenses, International Youth Hostel Card
  • A list of the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and email addresses of key contacts, both in the US and at home, including the contact information for friends and family who live in the US
  • Books, including a dictionary and phrase book
  • Business cards
  • Academic documents, such as the school’s course catalog and other material you received from the school

You should bring enough money with you to cover your first month’s expenses until you are able to transfer funds from abroad. This will be at least US $1,500, but probably more (look at your budget to be sure).

Make two photocopies of any important document. Leave one copy at home, and bring one copy with you, but keep it separate from the originals. It might be worthwhile to bring several spare sets of passport photographs in case you need to get a new passport or visa.

The following items may seem inconsequential, but you will find them very useful: pen and pad of paper, safety pins, paper clips, sewing kit, extra buttons, nylon cord, first aid kit, alarm clock or watch, calculator, flashlight, spare batteries, plastic bags, and duct tape. Also a small lock for your luggage.

Label your luggage inside and out with your name and your university’s name and address. If your luggage is lost in transit, this will help the airline return it to you. Needless to say, critical documents, medines, and other supplies should be carried in your carry-on luggage. Your carry-on bag should also include one change of clothing.

It can be very expensive to transport a lot of belongings. It is better to buy what you need in the US. If you decide to send your belongings separately, your main options are by boat and by air. Shipping items by boat takes longer, but is also about half the cost of sending them by air. Allow 8 weeks for items to arrive by boat, or one or two weeks for items shipped by air.