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Preparing for your Trip

There is a lot to do and think about when planning for your study, research, or work in Rochester. It will be helpful to plan ahead for your travel, make arrangements with several University service offices, and to think about what items you will want to bring with you. You should consider:

Pre-Departure Travel Arrangements

Once your visa has been approved, you will need to coordinate your trip to the US.

When booking your travel, know the date that your department expects you to arrive. This date generally reflects any required orientation programs, restrictions on housing access, or other University activities. You may also be limited by travel permissions tied to your specific visa status (see our sponsored visa categories page for more information).

Note: F-1 and J-1 visa holders are expected to arrive no later than the start date listed on your initial I-20 or DS-2019. If your travel is delayed for any reason, you may need a new document to enter the country.

When buying tickets for air travel, we recommend flying directly into Rochester, New York. Most international flights arrive at a different initial Port of Entry, but you should be able to schedule a domestic flight to Rochester for the same day.

A common misperception is that Rochester is located near New York City, since they are in the same state. In fact, Rochester is more than 300 miles away, which means either an additional 50-minute flight, six hours of driving, or a seven-hour train or bus ride.

Accessing Funds, Packing, and Shipping Items

Accessing Funds

You will likely need immediate access to US funds as you get settled in Rochester.

The actual amount needed varies greatly based on individual circumstances. Relevant factors include whether you are:

  • Living in campus housing
  • Access a University dining plan
  • Bringing dependent family members
  • Planning to buy furniture, a vehicle, etc. 

Even if you open a US bank account when you arrive, there may be some delay in having access to those funds while the account is being set up. Please plan ahead and bring some funds with you.

When you arrive, you must declare all money to the US Customs and Border Patrol Agent at the Port of Entry.

Packing for Rochester Weather

The weather in Rochester varies substantially throughout the year.

The summer months (June–September), are often very warm and breezy, with daytime temperatures between 70°F and 85°F (21°–30°C). During the winter months (November–March), temperatures can drop below 10°F (-12° C), with even lower wind chills and frequent snow accumulations. Other months are more moderate in temperature.

See current weather information in Rochester from The Weather Channel.

During the coldest months, you will need:

  • A warm, heavy coat (preferably resistant to wind and water)
  • Waterproof boots
  • Gloves and hat

You can buy these items in Rochester, if you prefer not to transport them from overseas.

Please note that most American students generally wear informal and comfortable clothing in the classroom (e.g., jeans, T-shirts, sneakers, etc.). Professional attire for scholars, researchers, and other employees tends to vary; ask your department for guidance.


You may choose to ship items from your home country, rather than bring them with you when you travel.

We suggest coordinating delivery with your department or having someone ship these items after you arrive and have a specific shipping address. ISO cannot accept or store packages for incoming students, scholars, or visitors. 

Be sure to research your local shipping options (including International Parcel Post) to ensure that your packages clear inspection by US Customs and that you get a fair price for this service.

Tips for Airline Travel

We’ve compiled some tips, advice, and best practices for air travel to the United States.

  • Always hand-carry your passport, other immigration documents, and money or travelers checks.
  • Find out from the airline if there are any restrictions on the number, size, or weight of baggage items.
  • Carry a small flight bag with medications you may need, valuable belongings, a change of clothing, and any essential personal hygiene items in case any checked baggage is lost or misdirected.
  • Review guidelines from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) about prohibited carry-on items.
  • Be careful at airports. Do NOT leave your bags unattended or with strangers!
  • Carry some US currency with you when you travel. You may need to make a phone call, purchase a meal, pay for taxi fare, or rent a baggage trolley when you arrive.
  • Expect the unexpected! Check in for all flights well in advance of your scheduled departure time. If you are planning to spend the night in a hotel, either in transit or upon arrival in Rochester, you should guarantee your reservation with a credit card in case your flight is delayed and you arrive later than expected.