Birute – former J-1 Trainee
The girl is trying to close suitcase crammed on white

One/two suitcases of my stuff for more than a year? Is that even possible??

That’s the question most of the future interns/trainees will ask when they realize that they can only travel with 1-2 suitcases and usually they have a lot more stuff they think they would need in the U.S.

First of all, how to decide if it is going to be one or two?? Here are some thoughts:

  • An extra luggage will probably cost extra money, however, if you are going to pay overweight fees on your first luggage, you might as well just bring two instead (usually an extra luggage costs almost the same as the overweight fee). Check and calculate what is the most effective option based on the information provided by the airline you are traveling with.
  • Think ahead – you are probably going to buy clothes/gifts/electronics during your internship/training in the USA, so if you go with two full luggage, how are you going to bring the new stuff home? A third luggage? :) Many airlines don’t even allow you to travel with 3 luggage, even if you pay extra fees…this is something you need to check before travelling to the USA.
  • How are you going to travel from the airport to your accommodation? Will somebody be able to pick you up at the airport or you will need to take a train/bus to get to your destination? Travelling with 2 big suitcases (and in many cases one small cabin luggage) and your handbag can be a real challenge or even impossible if you need to jump on a train/bus.

Ok, you finally managed to decide if you are going to take one or two suitcases with you. And now what?

Here is what I did: I packed my favorite clothes, yes, I tried to narrow them down to a reasonable amount, which yes, was pretty difficult. I was standing there wondering, what are the essential things I need to take with me?

Here is a list of essentials I suggest to pack:

  • Plug adaptor – the US plug is different from the European plugs, so make sure to bring an adaptor if you want to use your phone charger, laptop charger, etc. brought from home
  • Towel – you might only need it if you are not living at a host family / fully equipped apartment. Don’t pack unnecessary towels, bed sheets etc., ask before your travel if you are required to bring them with you or not
  • Medicine – bring a small amount of the medication you know it works for you – it does not mean that you need to pack a whole pharmacy with you
  • Bank card from home – you will need funds to cover at least your first month’s stay (depending on your internship/training) and it’s the easiest way to receive money from home
  • Something dear to your heart to help reduce the homesickness when it kicks in

Before you travel, make sure that you have all necessary documents with you as well: passport with J1 visa, DS2019 form, your airline ticket confirmation (or boarding pass if you checked in online), the address of your accommodation in the USA (even if it’s a temporary hotel) and proof that you have enough money to support yourself in the USA.

DON’Ts:

Don’t forget to take your BIG SMILE with you!!!

HAPPY PACKING!! :)