Here are a few tips to give you a jump start towards this endeavor:
Know Your Weight Limits
The first and the most requirement is to know your weight limit for airlines. Keep in mind if there is a change in flight or a connecting domestic flight. Generally, flights allow two bags of 23 Kg and one carry on suitcase. However, this may vary between airlines or type of booking. For example, first class has more luggage allowance. Some airlines also have student offers including extra luggage allowance or assisted travel.
Gather All that Needs to be Packed
Compile a list of things to carry and categorize them under broad groups like clothes, shoes, accessories, packed food items, raw cooking items, books etc. Using this technique ensures you do not forget any vital items. Having everything is one place helps you visualize what needs to be packed in how much space. It also helps you re-prioritize between two items depending on the space left in your suitcase.
Distribute Weight Equally
It is a wise choice to distribute items equally into number of bags that you are allowed. This is to prepare for emergencies. For example, if you have all your socks in one bag and that bag is delayed in transit, you will be essentially out of socks. Therefore, it is better to distribute two pairs in each bag. Although, it is a small item, it is a very essential one.
Mix & Match
It is a simple trick to optimize your packing. All items are different in density for example; sweater is not heavy but requires more space than utensils which are heavier but compact. Arranging them in combination will be better utilization of space and weight in each of your bags.
Always label your bag with name and phone number. Add a ribbon or sticker to personalize it. This often helps in locating your bag at the airport and you do not get confused with other similar looking bags on the conveyor belt. You can always tally it with your boarding pass but being able to spot it at a distance gives you added advantage.
It seems like a no-brainer. Carry all your important documents like passport, SEVIS receipt, I-20 or financial documentation or employer letter in your laptop bag or hand purse. You may need to show them during immigration. Carry other valuables like money, laptop, phone, with your hand bag. Do not in any case put it in check in luggage.