As you are preparing for your SWT job, we would like to help you consider what you may want to bring, need to bring, and what you should not bring.

There are plenty of great blogs and websites that can act as guides for what you should pack and how to pack your belongings. We will provide links to some of those sites to assist you.

Retro tourist luggage with colorful clothes and copyspace on grungy background
  • Have a carry-on piece of luggage that you can put a few pieces of clothing (a pair of socks, maybe a pair of underwear-just in case your checked luggage is lost in transit), some toiletries in a clear plastic bag, a tablet, a camera, and your documents. A backpack can be a great and small enough carry-on for many college students.
  • A good piece of rolling luggage can be very functional. Make sure that it can hold everything you need to bring with you, yet has space for all treasures that you will be taking home. It is important to keep in mind how heavy your luggage will be so you are not charged any overweight fees.
  • You may want to have a smaller stuff able bag that is stored in your checked rolling luggage. This can be used for a quick trip out of town or taking your dirty clothes to a laundry mat.
  • In traveling it is also helpful to have plastic bags with you to wrap your shoes in and keep dirty clothes away from clean clothing. Plus if your luggage does get too full, you can always use it as a possible carry-on when returning home.
  • Tip! Packing cubes or space bags are a great way to compress your clothes in your luggage. If you are interested in buying some of these, get the kind you can use without a vacuum cleaner.
  • Tablets, Laptops, and Smartphones. Decide whether you need the bulk of your laptop computer. Or, can you get by with a less expensive tablet or smartphone? Regardless of what you decide to bring with you, make sure to fully charge it before getting on the plane.
  • Electrical Converters. It is likely that our electrical outlets are different from those that you have at home. Make sure to purchase converters that will work in the U.S. before your departure. All of our outlets are standard throughout the States.
  • SIM Cards. Many of our Exchange Visitors arrive in the U.S. with prepaid or unlocked cellphones. United Studies is working with Campus SIMs to offer pre-paid plans and providing a SIM card that can work while you are here in the States. Campus Sims.

Necessary Documents for Travel

  • Passport
  • J-1 Visa
  • DS2019
  • Job Offer
  • SEVIS Receipt
  • Insurance
  • I94 Arrival Card
  • Customs Form 6059B
  • Extra Copies. All of your documents and identification must contain your correct personal information and it may not be expired or contain misspelled information.  Make two copies of your paperwork and leave the spare set with your parents, make a copy for yourself to be kept separately for emergencies. We recommend keeping all of your original documents in your personal possession such as your carry-on bag. You will need most of them to pass through Customs.
  • Medication. You will want to bring a doctor’s note verifying any prescription medication that you will have in your carry-on or checked luggage.
  • Maps. Have a printout map of your arrival location, a map of the city you will be living in, and a map of your housing and work location.
  • Boarding Pass. Don’t forget your printed or electronic version of your Boarding Pass.
  • Work Clothes. Every work location requires a different uniform. Check with your employer before you depart to see if you have any of the needed clothing. Or, decide if you should wait to shop when you arrive in the U.S. We have discount clothing stores where you may find shirts, pants, and shoes for reasonable prices.
  • Everyday Clothes. Generally U.S. college students dress very casually. It is very common to wear blue jeans or shorts in the States. Bring things that you are comfortable in wearing in your normal everyday life. BUT, make sure to check the climate where you will be working to see that you are dressed appropriately for the weather. It could be very cold, rainy, too sunny, humid, etc.
  • Shoes. You may be walking quite a bit or bicycling during your SWT experience. A good pair of athletic or walking shoes would be wise to bring with you. Also, check with your employer to learn what type of shoes they want you to wear during work hours.
  • Outerwear. The U.S. has a wide climate range and this can vary drastically even within a season. Read about the location you will be moving to and decide what types of clothes, jackets, umbrellas, hats, and shoes you should consider bringing with you. Think about how you have to pack these items; are they stuff able, collapsible, easy to tie onto luggage or a backpack?
  • Toiletries. You may want to pack a small amount of bathing supplies with you; enough to hold you over until you can go shopping.
  • Medication. We recommend bringing a supply of all prescription medication with a description of each written by your doctor.
  • First Aid. Having over the counter medication for a headache, congestion, or a sleep aid might be good to have in your carry-on bag. Leave them in their original packaging.

How to Pack a Suitcase

  • Roll your shirts, pants, etc. and you will conserve space in your luggage. If you decide to invest in packing cubes or space bags, you will want to roll your clothing and stuff it in these bags until no space is left.
  • Don’t be afraid to put underwear, socks, phone charges, belts, or other loose items in your shoes.
  • Don’t over pack bulky clothing. This can take up a lot of important space. Choose a few select favorites. You might just find a great deal on something here in the States that you’d like to wear and bring home.
  • Socks and underwear can be stuffed into empty crevices in your packed luggage. 
  • If you are packing any liquids in your checked suitcase, make sure to put them in a sealed bag to protect your clothing and shoes from any spills.