Packing & Logistics


Traveling smart often begins with packing smart. Follow these tips and you'll be off to a good start!

  • Pay attention to airline baggage allowances. Most airlines have very strict guidelines on how big/heavy your suitcase can be, and these guidelines may vary depending on the airline. To avoid high fees, try to keep your luggage to a minimum.
  • Pack light! You're the person who will be lugging your suitcase all over the world!
  • Leave room for souvenirs. If you fill up your whole suitcase with clothes and shoes, where will you fit all the cool stuff you buy while you're abroad?
  • Bring one nice outfit for a more formal event. You may be invited to meet with local leaders, or go to a fancy restaurant, or sit in on a business meeting, etc.
  • Shoes: We all want our shoes to look good, and sometimes we can forego comfort for fashion. That said, take one pair of comfortable, broken-in shoes as you get to know your new city!
  • Electronics:
    • If you're bringing a laptop, make sure to back up your files before you go. If your computer gets damaged/stolen, you don't want to lose everything. Also check the voltage of the location you're traveling to (standard voltage and plug type). Do you need to buy an adapter or a converter?
    • If you're bringing a hairdryer, flat iron, curling iron, etc: First, do you REALLY need it? (remember, you're lugging this around). If so, check the voltage to see if it will work where you're going.


While studying abroad is an exciting time, it's still important to keep in touch with friends and loved ones. People back home will want to know that you're safe, and to hear about all of the wonderful new experiences you're having. They can also provide a support network if you're having trouble adjusting to your new cross-cultural experience. 

In addition, you must be reachable in case of emergency and should ensure that the Study Abroad & Away office, your onsite coordinator/program leader(s) and emergency contacts all have the contact information for how to reach you. 

Develop a Contact Plan

It's important to develop a realistic contact plan before you leave. By making a plan prior to departure, you'll help avoid unnecessary worry. This should include the following:

  • Tell your loved ones when you plan on arriving at your destination, and when you will realistically be able to contact them. Consider that it may be several hours after you get off the plane before you'll have the time/capability to contact someone at home. Don't forget the time difference!
  • Set up a plan for how often you will be in touch (weekly check-ins, etc.) Prepare your family/loved ones so they don't freak out (nobody wants a panicked parent calling the U.S. Embassy because they haven't heard from their kid -- especially if they're just out having fun on their program and forgot to call home!).

Determine Methods of Communication

You've told everyone how often to expect contact from you. But HOW will you contact them? Here are some platforms to consider:


  • If you take your phone with you, check with your carrier beforehand to see what their international plan is. Also be sure that the phone is unlocked and compatible. Consult this resource for information about compatibility:
  • You may be able to unlock your phone and buy a SIM card when you get to your program location, so you can use your phone there. That way, you can call home using wifi instead of using up your data or minutes! 
  • Sometimes it's easier just to buy a cheap local phone for your time abroad. 
  • If you use gmail, you can set up a phone number in Google Voice for free. Once you have that phone number, you can call home and receive calls through your laptop or cell phone! 
  • If you get a new phone, you will need to set up Duo Mobile if you want to access SJSUOne on your phone. You can find instructions to do so here.

Zoom or Skype

Zoom and Skype can be used for instant message and video chat.


WhatsApp is your new best friend (if it isn't already). Do some research to find out which text app is most commonly used in that particular country. 

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