Tips for Air Travel

Students are responsible for making their own travel arrangements for off-campus study. Programs that offer group travel options will inform you of those options after acceptance. Many programs have a recommended arrival date and program housing is not usually available until then.  We recommend that you do not book your tickets until your program has informed you of the arrival date.

Airport Security

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is part of the Department of Homeland Security and is responsible for security of the nation's transportation systems. TSA has strict guidelines relating to airline travel and security.  If you do not travel often (or even if you do!), the OCS Office suggests that you review all of the guidelines regarding airline travel on the TSA web site.  Please note that outside the U.S. security regulations may be different.  If you have any questions about what is allowed and what is not, please check with the airlines you are travelling on.

Here are some tips from TSA for to make your air travel experience easier:

  • Don't pack over-sized electronics in your checked baggage. 
  • Your shoes must be removed before you pass through the metal detectors in all U.S. security checkpoints and will be screened by the x-ray machine.
  • It is best to have your boarding pass and ID (passport for international travel and U.S. driver's license for domestic travel) ready as you first approach security as they must be reviewed by a Transportation Security Officer.
  • Arrival times can vary by airline and by destination, but be sure to arrive on time to the airport for your departure.  It is best to check with your airline to see what their arrival recommendations are.  Many times, this is 3 hours before departure for international flights and up to 90 minutes for domestic flights.

Packing Tips

When packing for your semester off-campus, you should visit the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) section for travelers.  It offers good advice on what you can and cannot carry on, especially as it pertains to the amount of liquids allowed in a carry-on bag.  You will want to keep in your carry-on bag any essential items that you must have with you upon arrival, as sometimes checked luggage is occasionally lost of delayed in transit.  We recommend you take the following with you in your carry-on bag(s):

  • Passport

  • Important documents such as letter of admission into the program and fee letter from Whitman (if applicable)

  • Program contact information

  • Whitman emergency contact information

  • Your money and/or ATM/debit/credit card

  • Prescription medications

  • Items you will need during flight such as contact lens case, warm jacket, etc.

  • Change of clothing if your luggage is lost

It is important to remember that airlines do have weight limits on both carry-on and checked luggage.  You should consult with your airline to see what their weight and size restrictions are.  You should definitely try to travel light.  Bring as little as you can and never more than you can carry comfortably.  You will have to carry your own luggage and may need to go up and down stairs with them.  Keep in mind that you will undoubtedly accumulate things during your stay that you will want to bring home.  Shipping can be expensive, so it is wise to leave some space in your luggage or bring a small duffel bag that can be empty in your luggage on the way over that you can fill upon your return.