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Planning & Packing

Planning ahead is a crucial part of the pre-departure phase. Check out these resources and tips for packing lightly, planning your budget and managing finances abroad, and determining the best way for you to communicate both abroad and with your friends and loved ones.


The number one tip for study abroad is to pack lightly!  Remember that you will be carrying your belongings around airports, train stations, stairs, cobblestone walkways, etc.  Be sure that you can easily handle your own bags.

You will be able to purchase most items you need in your host destination after you arrive, so do not feel that you need to bring large quantities of clothing, toiletries, and other items.


Money Matters

It's crucial that you review the Financial Planning page of our website for information about payments and financial aid, but you also need to think about budgeting and managing your finances on-site.  These resources and tips will help you be responsible with your finances.



  • Make a budget. This is one of the most helpful tasks you can do prior to departure. Most students say they wish that they had worked harder on this before their programs.

  • Make plans for your monthly bills. If you have any recurring bills in the U.S. (e.g. cell phone, credit cards, etc.) make plans now fo

  • Familiarize yourself with the local currency and exchange rates. Download a currency exchange app before departure and keep track of how much you are spending.

  • Research common payment methods in your host country. Preferences for cash or cards vary from country to country, so be sure you are prepared

  • Notify your bank and credit/debit card companies of your plans prior to departure. Without travel notifications, the card fraud services may freeze your account(s) due to unusual transactions. Be sure to write down an international customer service number for your debit and credit cards.

  • Check with your bank and credit/debit card companies about international transaction fees. These fees can quickly add up and become an unexpected strain on your budget.

  • Consider ordering a small amount (roughly $100-150) of the local currency before your departure. This will help reduce stress when you first arrive by giving you some cash for buses, taxis, tips (depending on the culture), and other incidentals when you first arrive.



Nowadays it is easier than ever to stay in touch with friends and family while abroad, but it is still important to plan ahead.  Review these useful tips for some basic things you can do to prepare for your experience.

  • Establish a communication plan with your family before you leave the U.S. Discuss how frequently you plan to contact home and which methods are most affordable and convenient. Remind your family that it may take a few hours after you arrive in your host city for you to get situated and have a chance to contact home. Also, remember that overly frequent communication with your family and friends at home can make adjustment to the local culture more challenging.

  • Research your cell phone options. Most programs require that students have a cell phone that works in the host country. Research your cell phone carrier’s international calling and data options, or consider purchasing a local SIM or eSIM card as a more affordable option. Before you depart, make sure your phone is unlocked in order to use a local SIM.

  • Use your Davidson EduRoam. EduRoam is a secure, world-wide roaming access service that allows students, faculty, and staff to get internet connectivity easily when visiting other participating institutions. By using your Davidson network credentials, you can access Eduroam at more than 400 U.S. locations and hundreds more abroad. Visit the EduRoam website to search for hotspots in your host country.