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A Comprehensive Travel Checklist for Indian Students Going to Study in the USA

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Written by  Harminder Singh, MBA

Reviewed by  Priyanka Bhargava, MBA - Marketing and HR

Published on Thu, August 3, 2023 4:07 PM   Updated on Thu, August 3, 2023 4:07 PM   14 mins read

Embarking on an exciting journey to study in the USA? This comprehensive travel checklist is your ultimate guide to smooth and hassle-free preparations.

The best part?

We’ve gathered all the essential tips and advice specifically tailored for Indian students like you. From visa requirements and packing essentials to cultural insights and money-saving strategies, we’ve got you covered for every step of your adventure.

If you’re dreaming of pursuing your education in the United States, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and confidence to make the most out of your study abroad experience.

Not only will you have a stress-free journey, but you’ll also be well-prepared to embrace new opportunities and immerse yourself in the American academic and cultural landscape.

Ready to turn your study abroad dreams into reality? Let’s dive into the must-know details and get you fully prepared for this life-changing adventure. Let the countdown to your American dream begin!

Pre-Departure Essentials – Ultimate Checklist for a Smooth Journey to the USA

Pre-Departure Essentials to study in the USA
Source: Freepik

For Indian students, travelling to the USA for higher study is an exciting experience. To ensure a smooth and stress-free trip, you must complete certain pre-departure duties before entering American territory. Here is a thorough checklist to get you started:

1. Passport and Visa

Your passport serves as the key to all foreign travel. Ensure your passport is current and valid for the full-time you will visit the USA. Additionally, ensure you have all the essential supporting documents and the relevant student visa, such as an F-1 visa.

2. I-20 Form

An important document that certifies your eligibility for an F-1 student visa is the I-20 form, which your American university provides. You will require the original I-20 form during the registration and immigration processes, so keep it safe and accessible.

3. Accommodation Arrangements

Reserve your lodging in the United States well in advance. Confirm the arrangements for a cosy place to call home when you arrive, whether in a university residence hall, a homestay, or an off-campus flat.

4. Financial Matters

In order to prevent any unanticipated financial snags, let your bank know about your travel plans to the USA. Carry enough money in the form of traveller’s checks or a prepaid debit card for foreign exchange to cover immediate needs. And, consider opening an NRE (Non-Residential External) or NRO (Non-Residential Ordinary) account to ensure easy financial transactions when travelling.

5. Travel Insurance

Get thorough medical and travel insurance to put your health and security first. Medical emergencies can be expensive in the USA, so having enough insurance will give you confidence and safety while you’re there.

6. Vaccinations

Check the vaccination requirements and health precautions for overseas travellers to the USA before you start your journey. Be sure to carry your medical records and ensure you have received all required immunisations.

Packing Necessities

Packing Necessities
Source: Freepik

Packing thoughtfully as you prepare for your exciting trip to the USA is crucial to guarantee a relaxing and hassle-free stay. Here is a detailed travel checklist to assist you in packing the essentials, from seasonal apparel to critical documents:

1. Clothing

Consider the weather where you’ll be travelling in the USA while choosing your outfit, and pack appropriately. Consider packing a mix of casual and formal clothing appropriate for academic settings and social occasions, as well as lightweight, breathable clothing for summer and warm layers for winter. Pack some comfy shoes so you can explore your new surroundings.

2. Electronics

For keeping connected and completing your academic requirements, your electronics are crucial. Put your laptop, iPad, and any other equipment you could require for your study in your bag. Also, don’t forget to include their chargers and ensure they work with US electrical systems. Purchasing a universal adapter will guarantee trouble-free device charging.

3. Medications

Ensure you have enough prescription medications with you to last the duration of your visit to the USA. To prevent any potential customs-related issues, it is a good idea to transport them in their original packaging and include a copy of your prescription or a doctor’s note.

4. Toiletries

Having some necessities from home can be comforting during the first few days of settling down, even though toiletries are simple to buy in the United States. Include shampoo, soap, toothpaste, and other preferred personal care products in your luggage. Keep in mind to follow the TSA’s regulations on liquids in carry-on luggage.

5. Documents

Put your critical papers in a safe place, including your passport, I-20 form, visa, academic transcripts, and financial records, as a backup, and store photocopies or digital scans of these documents somewhere else. This makes it simple for you to get to them anytime.

6. Important Contact Information

Make a list of emergency contacts, including the phone numbers for the international student support services at your university, friends or family in the USA, and the embassy or consulate of your nation. Having these contacts on hand might be handy in case of any unforeseen emergencies.

Travelling to the USA

Travelling to the USA
Source: Freepik

Careful planning and travel preparation along with travel checklist are essential when you set out on your journey to the USA for higher education to get the most out of the experience. Following are crucial pointers to make sure a comfortable and pleasurable travel, from selecting the appropriate aircraft tickets to handling customs and immigration:

1. Choosing Flight Tickets

  • When making travel plans, keep convenience and cost in mind.
  • Watch out for discounts and special offers, especially during off-peak times.
  • To get better deals, purchase your tickets well in advance.
  • Analyse the cost- and time-effectiveness of airport connections and layover times.
  • Verify baggage restrictions and additional costs to avoid unpleasant surprises at the airport.

2. Airport Tips

  • Pack your carry-on bag with the necessities in advance of long flights.
  • Add a neck pillow, headphones, or earplugs that block out sounds and entertainment options.
  • Carry a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated and prevent dehydration from flying.
  • Keep in mind to stretch and move around the cabin throughout the journey to avoid being stiff.
  • During layovers, become familiar with the airport’s layout and learn where to find facilities like lounges and rest spaces.

3. Customs and Immigration

  • Access all required documents quickly, such as your I-20 form and passport.
  • Answer the questions asked by the immigration agents honestly and briefly.
  • Be ready to respond to questions regarding your visit’s objective, duration, and target academic institution.
  • Throughout the customs and immigration process, remain composed and confident.
  • After being approved, take your checked luggage with you and head to the scheduled transportation or lodging.
Planning to Study in USA get a shortlist of best universities according to your profile for studying in USA
Planning to Study in USA get a shortlist of best universities according to your profile for studying in USA

On-Arrival Necessities

On-Arrival Necessities
Source: Freepik

It’s imperative to take care of a few immediate needs for a smooth transition as you begin this new chapter of your life:

1. Ground Transportation

Knowing how to get from the airport to your final location is crucial after a lengthy travel. Do your research and become familiar with the various modes of transportation, including taxis, public transportation, and airport shuttles. Find out if your university provides airport pickup services for students from other countries. It will be easier and more comfortable for you to begin your stay if you have a plan for ground transportation.

2. Sim Card and Mobile Plans

 To avoid expensive international roaming fees, consider purchasing a local SIM card for your phone when you arrive. Many mobile service providers provide prepaid or postpaid plans for overseas students, including data and calling features. Pick a plan that matches your communication needs and enables you to maintain contact while visiting the USA.

3. Bank Account Setup

Opening a bank account in the USA is crucial for daily transactions and money management. Visit a bank in your neighbourhood close to your apartment or campus and ask how to open an account. You’ll need your passport, student visa, I-20 form, and address proof to finish the account setting. You can conduct financial activities more efficiently and effectively with a local bank account.

Settling into Student Life

Settling into Student Life
Source: Freepik

Here are some crucial actions to do in order to ensure a seamless transition and make the most of your academic experience:

1. University Registration

Finishing all registration requirements as soon as you arrive on campus is vital. This could entail attending orientation seminars, completing the necessary paperwork, and finalising your course schedule. For a smooth start to your academic term, familiarise yourself with the university’s administrative procedures and deadlines.

2. Orientation Programs

At orientation programs, you can learn important information about campus resources, academic standards, student organisations, and cultural integration. It’s a great chance to socialise with other students and form new acquaintances.

3. Academic Supplies

To prepare for your education, buy the necessary school materials, like textbooks, notebooks, pens, and other stationery goods. Look into used bookstores or internet distribution channels to find more affordable textbook possibilities. Being prepared with the required materials will lead you to academic achievement.

4. Social Security Number (SSN)

A Social Security Number (SSN) is necessary if you intend to work part-time or participate in internships while visiting the USA. An individual’s SSN is a special identification number given to them for tax and employment purposes. Following the relevant procedures, you can apply for an SSN at the Social Security Administration office.

Health and Safety

Health and Safety
Source: Freepik

Taking proactive measures to protect your health is crucial as you start this exciting phase. Here are some significant factors to think about:

1. Health Insurance

You must sign up for a good health insurance plan your university provides. By covering medical costs, health insurance guarantees that you will have access to high-quality healthcare in the event of an accident or illness. Learn about the specifics of the coverage, the hospitals in the network, and the claim-filing procedure. Having complete health insurance provides security and defence against unforeseen medical expenses.

2. Staying Healthy

Adopt a balanced lifestyle by fitting regular exercise, a wholesome diet, and enough sleep into your daily schedule. Utilise the university’s exercise centres and sign up for health initiatives or sports teams to keep active and network. Prioritise your mental health by using the university’s counselling facilities if necessary.

3. Emergency Preparedness

Be familiar with the local police, fire, and medical emergency numbers. Understand the emergency protocols offered by the university or lodging facility. Maintain a list of emergency contacts, such as friends, family, and university personnel who can help you in an emergency.

Exploring the USA

Exploring the USA
Source: Freepik

In addition to a top-notch academic experience, studying in the USA allows you to see this alluring nation’s vast and varied terrain. Utilise your holidays to the fullest by taking advantage of intriguing travel options and exploring the fascinating cultures and natural wonders. Here are some crucial pointers for an enjoyable exploration:

1. Travel Opportunities

Plan travels and explore different areas of the USA during breaks and holidays. The choices for adventure are endless, whether it is seeing the pulsating cities of New York or Los Angeles, taking in the breathtaking scenery of the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone National Park, or taking in the allure of tiny towns and college campuses.

2. Budgeting

Plan your excursions, consider inexpensive lodging choices, and consider travelling in groups to cut costs. Use student discounts at museums, tourist attractions, and transportation providers. Setting aside money for recreational pursuits can enable you to get the most out of your travels without exceeding your budget.

A Transformative Adventure Awaits to Study in the USA!

Travel Checklist for Indian Students
Source: Freepik

Congratulations! You’re now armed with the ultimate travel checklist for Indian students heading to the USA. Get ready to rock your study abroad journey with confidence and ease. From visa hacks to insider tips, we’ve got you covered.

But wait, there’s more!

Unlock the full potential of your American dream with AdmitKard. Our expert team will be your study abroad superheroes, guiding you through every step of the way. Don’t miss this golden opportunity – click now and let’s make your dream a reality!

Planning to Study in USA get a shortlist of best universities according to your profile for studying in USA
Planning to Study in USA get a shortlist of best universities according to your profile for studying in USA

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes a travel checklist essential?

A travel checklist simplifies your move by organising necessary chores, such as document preparation and lodging, to guarantee a seamless voyage.

What is a Social Security Number (SSN), and how can I get one?

If you intend to work or intern while you are there, the Social Security Administration office is where you should apply for an SSN.

How can I preserve my physical and mental health?

For a balanced lifestyle, the answer is to exercise frequently, eat healthily, get enough sleep, and seek counselling services.

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travel checklist for Indian students to study in USA

About the Author & Expert


Harminder Singh

Author • MBA • 10+ Years

Harminder Singh is the Assistant Manager - Visa at AdmitKard. He comes with overall 10 years experience in study abroad and the Visa industry. With his cross-functional expertise, he has worked in a variety of roles, including Senior GTE Compliance & Visa Services Officer, Senior Counsellor, and Manager, at organizations such as, Global Opportunities Pvt Ltd, LandMark Immigration, and Davesar Consultants.


Priyanka Bhargava

Expert • MBA - Marketing and HR • 13+ Years

Priyanka possesses more than 13 years of extensive experience. Having pursued a Master's in International Business from a reputed university abroad, she has first-hand insight into the entire gamut of the study abroad admissions process. She has collaborated extensively with all categories of study abroad aspirants be it for Undergrad, Master’s (technical and non-technical), MBA, MPH and PhD. She boasts of an impeccable university placement record, including top-notch global universities such as Stanford, UPenn, UCLA, UC Berkeley, UCSD, Cambridge, and several others. She has an overall perspective of the admissions process of countries such as the USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Singapore, Hong Kong, European Union.

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