group of U of M Students in front of a windmill in Spain

Packing List


    1. Suitcase with Luggage Tag

    • Check with your airline to determine baggage fees. Many airlines allow each passenger to check at least one bag for free on international flights. 
    • If you are participating in a short term program, consider packing only a carry-on item rather than checking a bag. This will save you time at the airport. 
    • Suitcases with a collapsible handle on the top and wheels on the bottom are easier to travel with through long walks at the airport and through city streets.
    • Remember to only pack what you need. You might see a weight limit of 50 pounds. A 50 pound suitcase is very heavy to carry up multiple flights of stairs after a long (8-12 hour) international flight.
    • Tie a piece of string or add a quickly recognizable ribbon or tag on your suitcase to easily identify it on the baggage carousel.
    • Locks are discouraged because Transportation Security Administration (more commonly referred to as 'TSA') in other countries can and will cut them off if they want to inspect the contents of your luggage.

    2. Carry-on Luggage (smaller suitcase, duffel bag, etc.)

    • There is typically no fee for carry-on luggage for international flights. Most airlines share dimensions on their website to make sure that the carry-on you bring will fit in the compartment over your airline seat.
    • If your flight is full and you have a larger carry-on like a suitcase or duffel, you may be required to check it at the gate (free of charge). 
    • Pack prescription medications and toiletries in your carry-on. All liquids must fit in a quart size clear plastic bag and be 3.4 ounces or less. You can put the larger items in your checked suitcase. 
    • All liquids must fit in a quart size clear plastic bag and be 3.4 ounces or less. You will have to take out your clear plastic bag full of liquids when you go through security. Put the larger items in your checked suitcase. 
    • Pack a few outfits or underwear and socks in the carry-on in case your checked suitcase arrives after you do.

    3. Personal item (backpack, purse, laptop bag, etc.)

    • Make sure this will completely fit under the airplane seat in front of you or in the overhead compartment. You will probably have to take out your electronic devices when you go through security.

    What to Pack

    Pack using a checklist so you ensure you bring all the necessities for your experience abroad. Keep in mind that you will likely purchase additional items and souvenirs while abroad. Leave extra space in your luggage or bring an extra bag. Remember, many basic items can be purchased almost anywhere in the world. For some items, such as toiletries, it may make more sense to bring a small amount and purchase more locally as needed.

    Documents and IDs

    Below is a list of documents and IDs you might need. Check with your program team to determine which of these are needed for your program. 

    Copy all of your important documents and store the copies separately from the originals. Leave an additional copy with someone in the US and keep an electronic copy in a secure location.

    • Passport
    • Student visa
    • Information for Green Card Holders (if you are not a US citizen)
    • International health insurance ID card
    • International certificate of vaccinations–for some destinations, students are required to obtain an international certificate of vaccinations before departing.  Check with your program team for more information. 
    • For some study abroad programs, a copy of your admissions letter from your host institution and proof of funding/accommodation is required.  Check with your  program team for more information.  
    • Embassy contact information.  To identify the consulate or embassy nearest you, consult
    • Power of Attorney document 


    • Debit card (be prepared to withdraw local cash at an ATM when you arrive at your destination) 
    • Credit card
    • US dollars (in case of emergency)

    Visit Money Matters for tips on budgeting and spending money while abroad.