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Logistical Preparation


Among all the emotional adjustments happening, while preparing to leave, there are the practical tasks that need to be accomplished. As everyone in the family is preparing mentally, it is sometimes good to have actual tasks and research to do before the departure date.

Language and Communication.

In almost all cases, your child will be learning a new language or perfecting a language they have learned in the classroom. Encourage them to take advantage of language learning opportunities like

  • Rosetta Stone, watching/listening to movies in their host language,

  • little extra tutoring on the practical things in life, and

  • of course following any instructions from the host country.

When your child gets their host family information, they should contact the host family right away and prepare at least one sentence in the host language. But for those student who know the language, they should communicate with them entirely in the host language!


It is important to check with your international airline to learn about the restrictions for luggage. Not only size but weight also. In many cases, they will be allow one checked suitcase no heavier than 50 pounds.  Any additional bags or if they go overweight will be at your cost.  Unless you fly regularly, you and your child will be surprised how quickly their possessions adds up in size and weight so packing strategically is very important. 

Your child will want to purchase clothes and other popular items in the host country, so save the money and let them spent it in the host country.  When preparing the suitcase, the luggage tag should have their host family’s address on it and another piece of paper in the suitcase with that address too.

Carry On Bag. 

Students must keep their passport, visa, their host family's address and phone number, traveler’s checks, debit or credit cards, medications, cash, and other important papers with them and not in their luggage. A safe way to carry these items is in a fabric pouch that can be tied around the neck or waist and worn under all clothing. These pouches are more difficult to lose or steal.

Your child should bring a few basic toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, etc.) and “freshen up” clothing items (clean underwear and a shirt) in their carry-on in case checked luggage is delayed or lost en route.  Check with the airline’s website for any liquids/toiletries restrictions for carry-on bags.


Have you talked to your son or daughter about the kind of monthly budget they will have while in their host country? Now’s the time to do it! Since your child will be responsible for many things that are usually “free” to them at your house (personal toiletries, postage, etc.), it is important to think through all of the items your student will be responsible for and provide them with a budget to match. Generally speaking, depending on a country’s cost of living, it is recommended to provide them with $250-$300 per month.

Cell Phones.

If your child wants to bring his/her U.S. cell phone, be sure to contact the service provider to find out if the phone will work in the host country and what the rates and terms of usage will be. Your child can also opt to rent or buy a cell phone in the host country and purchase a pay-as-you-go service (this is usually the more affordable option).


It is customary for exchange students to present their host families with small giftsof gratitude when they arrive in their new homes. When considering what makes a good gift you should consider the size, weight, durability during travel, etc. You should not worry about the price of the gift; host families will generally appreciate something thoughtful, personal and/or creative or representative of your State. Something they can show off to relatives or visitors! Due to custom’s checks, your child should not wrap the gift(s) before departure, but rather take wrapping paper or gift bags with them.

You can read in depth about all of these topics and more in the SA Parent Handbook that was sent you when your child was accepted. We encourage you to read this section for more indepth details and more.

What gift ideas do you have?