Traveling and Packing

Students abroad in Costa Rica.
Students abroad in Costa Rica.

Study Abroad & Global Engagement (SAGE) knows it can be challenging to figure out where to start with planning for travel once your student has been accepted onto their program. Once students have submitted their application materials and have booked their travel overseas, they may have a whole new series of questions about how to plan for their time abroad. SAGE is here to help your student navigate how to best prepare for their experience and ensure they feel comfortable and informed with their decision to study abroad.

We are here to provide advice to help students decide what to pack, what is better off left at home, and how to start planning independent travel once they arrive in their host country. The sections below provide an overview of some of the most common areas students have questions about once they have been accepted onto their program. If there are any questions you or your student have any questions, please feel free to contact us at

Travel and Packing Resources

A passport is required for international travel so any student not already in possession of one is encouraged to apply immediately upon application to their program.  Those with an existing passport should check the expiration date to ensure that it is valid for at least 6 months past the program end date and apply for a renewal if it is not.  Students will be required to submit a passport copy to Study Abroad & Global Engagement prior to departure, however, please note that passports are often required several months prior to departure in order to apply for a visa and/or for on-site planning purposes.  Students who do not have a passport or are unable to secure a visa (if required) by their program start date; will be unable to participate in their program.  Visit the Passports section of the U.S. Department of State website for details about how to apply for and renew passports and to view current processing times.

Students may apply for a passport or passport renewal by following the instructions found on the U.S. Department of State website.  Once they have completed the appropriate form and gathered the required supporting materials, they should schedule an appointment to submit their passport application at their local passport acceptance facility.  KU students may do so at the main Lawrence Post Office (645 Vermont Street).   

A visa is an official document that allows the bearer to legally enter a foreign country. The visa is usually stamped or glued into the bearer's passport. Visa requirements vary by country and program type.  If a visa is required, Study Abroad & Global Engagement or the program provider (if doing a Student Initiated Program) will give the student information about the visa requirements and application process once accepted to the program.  If a visa is required, it is important to keep in mind that the student cannot begin the visa process until they have their passport in-hand.  

Dates for KU programs are listed on the top of the program brochure page, which can be accessed via the program search on the Study Abroad & Global Engagement website.  If the dates are listed as TBA or there are no dates listed, then either we have not received the information from the host institution or we have not set the dates.  Additional information about program dates, including travel dates and on-site orientations will be given to your student after acceptance. Dates for Student Initiated Programs (SIPs) are available through the program provider.    

It is better to pack light as your student will have to manage their luggage on their own from the airport to their accommodations. Your student should check the TSA website and host country regulations for information about what they need to check, and what they cannot take at all. The TSA has an updated the travel checklist. Be aware of the size and weight limitations of both checked and carry-on luggage, what the airlines your student is using allows, and what over-weight or over-sized charges would be. For information on what students should pack, please review the Packing section of the Pre-departure manual found on your student’s Jayhawks Abroad portal after acceptance. 

Independent travel is an exciting and beneficial part of study abroad.  Students may choose to travel before, during, or after their program.  If they intend to travel before or after, they should discuss this with their program coordinator, prior to making plans to ensure that they are aware of any visa requirements and/or other factors that they need to know about.  Programs often include built-in travel breaks or time for independent exploration on shorter programs; however, this varies by program so students should talk with their program coordinator if they have questions about this.    

For some, having a student overseas is the perfect opportunity to visit and travel internationally yourself.  When planning your visit, it is important to keep in mind the timing of your visit and to go at a time that is optimal for the student.  For example, if a student is going on a winter break or summer program, Study Abroad & Global Engagement recommends that you travel with the student before or after the program. Keep in mind that spring break programs fill most of spring break and therefore cannot accommodate additional travel time. Due to the length of these short-term programs, students will be busy most of the time. If a student is on a semester or year-long program, it is best to consider when the student will be in class and visit during an academic break if possible.