Remember that space is limited and you will be charged if you take too many bags or if they are overweight (check your airline’s website for the weight and size limits). Most airlines now charge to check a second bag. Since you will be hauling your heavy luggage through airports and train stations, it is better to underpack than to overpack.

You can buy shampoo, conditioner, laundry detergent, and hairdryers in your host country. Besides, by packing light, you will be able to bring back all kinds of treasures that you will find in your host country. Just remember a general rule known by many travelers: "Pack everything you think you will need, then take out fifty percent."

All suitcases should have wheels, and if you are planning to travel extensively through your host country or continent, you should invest in an internal frame hiking pack. Before you leave, mark your bags on the inside and outside with your name and contact information in case your bags make it on the wrong plane. Once you have packed, pick up your luggage and take a walk around the block. If you can’t do that, you need to invest in better luggage or take out some of the weight. YOU will be carrying everything without help.

Your clothes should be machine-washable and should not require a dryer since the accepted practice in many countries is to hang-dry clothing. Also, keep in mind that students in most countries dress more formally than Americans (fewer t-shirts and tennis shoes). Do research on fashion trends in the country that you will be visiting.

Dress Code

Try to fit in, but most importantly, respect the customs of the country that you will be visiting. It is important to respect the customs even if you don't agree with them. If you are visiting a church in Europe, men should not wear shorts, and women should keep their knees and shoulders covered. Women, while you would not consider your shorts to be too short to walk around MSU’s campus, they may send the wrong message in another country.

Women, to make your lives easier, this website was created to help you travel: JourneyWoman.

RESPECT. This is the most important word to remember when traveling abroad. Although the culture may be different than what you are accustomed to, YOU are the visitor in their country, so you must be respectful of their practices. A well-known phrase to keep in mind is, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Following these rules (and looking less like a tourist) will help to keep you safe and will prevent unwanted attention.

Don’t forget to pack comfortable walking shoes, a battery-operated alarm clock, a towel, and at least one nice outfit. In your carry-on, pack an extra change of clothes, toiletries (that meet airport guidelines), passport, airline ticket, money (but not everything you have), and all important names and phone numbers—both in the U.S. and in your host country.


Before leaving, make copies of all important documents and leave them with your parents or with a trusted friend. You should leave copies of your passport, birth certificate, visa, plane ticket, rail passes, prescriptions, bank account information, credit card numbers, international health insurance, and overall itinerary. It is recommended that you make electronic copies so that you may also access them from your email in case of an emergency.

You should keep a list of important names and numbers with this information. (MSU Office of Study Abroad, MSU Campus Police, parents’ work and home numbers, etc.) Take your local doctor and dentist’s information in case a medical emergency arises.