Here’s a travel question from a student who is going to America for the first time and like to know what documents to carry.

I would appreciate if you enlist the documents that are ABSOLUTELY NEEDED for the flight to USA? I mean, passport, visa, I-20, ticket and anything else and what are the documents that they will issue ( like I94..right? ) and where. By the way do we carry our original mark sheets and certifications.

Finally, regarding the post about Hard Disc’s, I’m planning to take hard disk loaded with films, music and a few software’s, would it create problems?

Thank you for all the help regarding my application and post application phases. I’m leaving for New York on 11th August and except for the University technicalities, 70% of the credit of my US application and journey information, starting from tips about right choice of university, to payment of fees, application, visa, right to orderly packing of bags, goes to Happy Schools. Keep it going and the 2011 “veterans” will always be there to mete out suggestions (if allowed :P )


tips to book cheap international flightsWhat Documents to Carry

I had posted answers to same question few years back

Things to Take with You

  • Carry all the documents in your  carry on bag.
  • Don’t check-in your important documents.
  • BE ( transcripts, degree certificate, course completion certificate) – Originals
  • I-20’s from different schools, in case you are planing to get transfer
  • Extra copies of recommendation letter, university transcripts.
  • Couple of bank statements (or the ones you used for visa)
  • Certifications, paper presentation reports, ..
  • If possible buy a $5 calling card with you
  • $5 and $10 bills (to rent baggage carts in airports)
  • One set of dress/clothes with you in cabin bag
  • I took International Driving permit, but never used it (and don’t recommend that)

Things to Leave Back

  • Leave photocopies of your documents at home
    • Passport pages
    • US visa from passport
    • I-20
    • Transcripts
    • Passport size photo.
    • Signatures in check books
    • Signed whites paper (if in case its required for any bank purpose)
    • Copy of your travel details
    • contact number of person who will pick you form airport

Caution Tips

  • Don’t laminate I-20 (inviting trouble)
  • Don’t lose your cabin baggage with documents in it (It happened to me once in Paris)
  • Don’t leave your bags with someone even when you go to  the restroom
  • Lock your bags (check-in) with TSA Locks
  • I usually don’t lock the bags from India to USA .
  • Things gets lost/stolen from USA to India (if bags gets delayed).
  • Don’t accept to take care of others bags (strangers)
  • Don’t drink alcohol in the flight
  • Remember where you stow you bag over the cabin. At times, there won’t enough space to right above your head.
  • Tie bright colored ribbon to identify your bags easily. I got with 2 different ribbons for each suitcase and cabin bags.
  • Learn More About Port of Entry Procedures (video)
  • Don’t panic if airport pickup person don’t arrive on time 
  • What to expect after arrival in USA

Hard Disks and Laptop

  • 99% of the time you will not have problems whit hard disk.  (so you decide)
  • See you already started making tough decisions (this is what US education is all about)

I could have said, don’t take, but I will leave the decision to you. There is important life lesson here.

If you make a decision, live with that irrespective of its consequences.

You will be forced to make many such decisions. People here will show you the way, you have to walk the path.

  1. Flying in USA with Portable Hard Disk With Movies, Songs and Photos

You will notice here is that everyone have their own set of issues and things to deals with. They will give suggestions, but you must be the decision maker.

Enjoy your trip. I’m writing this post, just because you have contributed a lot for this blog,  helped others with your comments and your are traveling in 2 days.

Have a safe trip. Share your travel experience when you get a chance after settling down.

Very good example of someone who built his network, so that can be used when in need.

Se Also : New Electronic I94 Form – Sample, FAQ’s


  1. Ryali.vijaya Lakshmi on August 30, 2017 at 5:25 AM

    I am going to USA for two months from many months gap required for next trip

  2. Sean Bradford on May 8, 2017 at 1:15 PM

    It’s so great to see community information sharing in action. I know I’m a few years late, but Subham I hope your travel was great and your studies in the US went well. I studied abroad a few years ago and the preparation was very stressful, but it was more than worth it once I got there.

  3. Saptarshi Mallick on July 13, 2012 at 3:56 PM

    Hello everybody……I will be flying from kolkata to Salt Lake city. I will reach Chicago in the morning, I have 6 hours stopover time there. I wanted to know how do I make a call to India, at home, to let my parents know that I have reached safely as I will not be taking any phone along with me and I am not sure how much international calls cost from public booths there.

    • Good for you on September 6, 2012 at 1:19 PM

      Keep a few $1 bills with you, you can call from public booths easily.

  4. ankit on December 10, 2011 at 12:50 PM

    wil say nly dis
    u r d best

  5. Umank on August 9, 2011 at 6:43 PM

    HSB you missed prescriptions ๐Ÿ˜› If you carry any allopathic medicines, don’t forget to carry prescriptions with you for the same, and drop a copy of those in the medicine bag.
    And do check with you airlines before hand about their luggage allowance. Mostly F1 Visa holders are allowed extra baggage for free. For example, Continental always allows 18 KG cabin baggage while others allow 8 KG, so u can pack pretty much all you clothing or at least most of it. But second Checkin baggage at Continental costs $70. So make sure with the airlines beforehand. Find their contact info on their website and call them, or e-mail them(keep a copy of mail incase trouble crops up at airport).. the regional websites have local phone numbers.

    • Umank on August 9, 2011 at 6:47 PM

      ofcourse.. the meds are better off in Checkin Baggage. Just carry the original doc’s prescriptions with you in cabin bag.

      • Subham on August 9, 2011 at 10:50 PM

        ok ya thats a [email protected] forgot to ask…since I have frequently have headaches, particularly when I am tired, will they allow a bottle of balm in the cabin baggage?

  6. mihir suchak on August 9, 2011 at 1:29 PM

    this is great information…thanks a lot HSB, though i am aiming for fall 2012…but this will help for sure…:-)

  7. Subham on August 9, 2011 at 11:40 AM

    thanks Pranav and all the more thanx, HSB…as I have already mentioned a thousand times over…HSB has played a big role in my decision makings and my post application officialities even till today, when I am engaged in my last min preparations for the flight. Believe me, maybe over the times, some of my questions were trivial, but since its a big leap for anyone, even the smallest of doubts can give rise to insecurities and I salute HSB for replying to all our questions with patience, details and elaboration….and about my post-travel experiences, of course I would post them once I anchor myself to the US soil. I found that a lot of people have already started posting about fall 2012, one also sent me a mail, and I will be more than happy to help and be a part of ur great job..,,and I feel every member of HSB should do so coz for an applicant, studying abroad is not only about academics, but also about living there..and those who have experienced it, should guide those who follow.

    Thanks again and to every member: keep up the team work. To HSB: keep up ur research ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Pranav on August 9, 2011 at 2:12 PM

      Its ok Shubham !!! ๐Ÿ™‚

      What you have said about HSB is 100% right !!!

      More than 50% credit goes to HSB. It helps applicants in the whole process making the process much simpler and sophisticated !!! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Hats Off HSB !!! ๐Ÿ˜€

  8. Hari Veturi on August 9, 2011 at 11:25 AM

    All the best Subham ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Saai Kaushiik on August 9, 2011 at 11:10 AM

    These tips are very useful. Thanx HSB for making aware of all these things.

  10. raki on August 9, 2011 at 10:58 AM

    Is it good to take laptop before oly…r buy there oly….

    • sq115 on August 9, 2011 at 2:23 PM

      First of all, another great post from HSB, thank you!

      Buy a laptop from the university store, they have special student discounts. Companies like Dell, HP, Sony etc also already have their student discounts which knocks off about $100-$150 off of laptops if you buy products from their online shop. The same discounts can usually be found in the university book stores, so just go on their website and you’ll find it, or you can e-mail them. Students get lots of perks in the US ๐Ÿ˜€

      • Subham on August 9, 2011 at 2:32 PM

        booked so..a Dell $50 discount from uni store.

        • Hari Veturi on August 9, 2011 at 2:37 PM

          ๐Ÿ˜ฎ cool total cost?

          • Subham on August 9, 2011 at 2:40 PM

            i ordered a Dell 14″ core i3 6gb, 640 GB…dell price was 649$ I guess…thru uni link I got it for 599$…dunno if it was the best deal, but nevertheless its still cheap.

          • Hari Veturi on August 9, 2011 at 2:41 PM

            Cheap!! ๐Ÿ˜€ Good deal ๐Ÿ˜‰ You could’ve gone for a MacBook though

          • Subham on August 9, 2011 at 2:53 PM

            may be 2-3 years hence…but im not a mcbook’s a no-no right now!

          • sq115 on August 9, 2011 at 5:25 PM

            Actually macs are for normal users, more user friendly.

          • Umank on August 9, 2011 at 6:34 PM

            yep.. a techie would NEVER EVER go for mac.. 95% of techies love linux.. and running linux on macs on dual.. idk how that will end :S

          • Subham on August 9, 2011 at 10:47 PM

            ok..i dint know that..anyways am used to windows and would prefer… ๐Ÿ˜›

  11. santhon on August 9, 2011 at 10:02 AM

    very very informative , thanks HSB.

  12. Pranav on August 9, 2011 at 9:53 AM

    The Very All The Best Subham !!!

    Have a Safe and Happy Journey ! ๐Ÿ™‚

    If possible, try to write about your experiences about everything you feel new, as it may help others.

    Take Care. ๐Ÿ˜€

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