Except where specifically stated otherwise in CGIS program materials, all travel arrangements—including securing onsite transportation—are your responsibility. 

Before buying a ticket, read any information your CGIS advisor might have provided about booking a flight for your program. Our own experiences traveling and the many reports we receive from returned students offer insights and advice that could save you time and money.

Airline Tickets

Whether booking flights independently or through a travel agent, make sure you indicate the date you want to arrive at your study abroad site rather than the day you want to leave from home so that layovers and time changes are taken into account.

Resource: Booking International Flights on a Budget


When traveling internationally, arrive at the airport at least two and a half hours before departure. Familiarize yourself with a map of your departure airport before leaving and confirm your departure terminal. The day before your flight you should print your boarding pass and put it with your passport and other official documents, go over what you will check and what you plan to carry on, and confirm arrangements for getting from your home to the airport.

Customs and Immigration

For international flights, you will have to show a valid passport to airline officials before they board the airplane to depart. Once students arrive in the foreign country, they will have to pass through immigration for passport check and through customs for examination of their luggage. Be courteous, cooperative and to-the-point when talking with customs officers and accept the fact that all bags may be searched. 

When you return to the US, you will have to go through US Customs, where you will once again have to show their valid passport, explain where you’ve been and why, and have all of your luggage with you. At this time, you will have to declare the amount of goods you've purchased abroad. It is important to keep an inventory of what was purchased, how much it cost, and how much money was spent throughout the semester. Not only is this useful when it comes to declaring goods, but it is also a good way to budget money.

You are also responsible for informing themselves of what items are and are not permitted to enter the United States from your destination. 

Jet Lag

Expect to experience some form of jet lag when traveling through time zones. Fatigue, indigestion and sleeping difficulties are common problems that students may experience during the first few days after they arrive at their study abroad site. In order to minimize jet lag, avoid consuming alcohol and try to stay well hydrated during the flight. Upon arrival, students should immediately try to adjust to the time of the country where they are by staying as active as they would normally be at that time of day. 


Take only as much luggage as you can physically carry and that meets airline requirements. Know airline baggage limits. You are the only person responsible for ensuring that your luggage arrives at the study abroad site. After you arrive at your destination airport, you might need to take public transportation, walk several blocks, and/or bring your items up several flights of stairs. If you can’t carry it comfortably, don’t take it.

Some general suggestions on packing:

  • Take only the essentials, and take clothes that can be washed and dried easily. Most households abroad line- dry clothes and do not have dryers.
  • Do not pack too much. Most students report that they packed more than they needed. You can purchase many items abroad, such as toiletries, but they might be more expensive or of a different quality.
  • Do not bring expensive jewelry, watches, electronics, or other accessories. CGIS suggests that you not bring with you anything that you could not bear to lose, whether its value is monetary or purely sentimental.
  • Carry on important documents and keep them near you during the flight and other travel.
  • Lay out everything that you plan to check and take a picture. If your luggage is lost, this picture can help you a claim to replace lost items. Take a picture of your packed luggage to help your airline identify and locate it if lost.

Keep the following on you: credit cards, boarding pass, LSA Emergency Contact Card, GeoBlue insurance card, Student ID, passport, vaccination card, program itinerary, cash (carry in money pouch) and other irreplaceable documents that are reasonable to keep on person. Plan to have enough funds to cover meals not included, for personal spending, and for additional travel if needed. Bring at least 100 USD of the local currency to the airport. 

Items to include in carry–on luggage

  • Glasses/contacts, medications, and prescriptions (see medications section for detailed info on how to carry medications and doctor’s prescriptions)
  • Flight itineraries and information about local ground transportation arrangements; how to get to the meeting point at the study abroad site, if applicable
  • Contact information of UM program leaders, on-site staff of local housing and program center, medical facilities
  • City map (with housing and meeting point clearly marked), guidebooks, if applicable
  • Cell phone and coverage information
  • Camera / mp3s / computer / electronics / batteries / memory cards 
  • 1 – 2 change of clothes
  • Fragile items
  • Anything irreplaceable that you don’t want to risk losing in checked luggage