Being prepared before you embark on a Study Abroad Program is the best way to ensure a great, safe time. You don’t want any surprises to pop up on your trip, so start planning early!
Never leave for a Study Abroad Program without proper identification. Usually, this involves obtaining a valid passport as far in advance as possible. Depending on where you’re traveling, you may also need a Visa to enter or travel through a country. Always be sure to check in advance with the U.S. Department of State to learn of any entry requirements. If you are not a U.S. citizen, contact the embassy or consulate of your nation of citizenship to determine your document needs. Here are a few links to get you started on the process:
While traveling abroad, always keep your passport in a safe place (not in your backpack). You may want to consider a passport wallet to wear under your clothing, so you can keep it discreetly on you at all times. You should also make copies of your passport to leave in your luggage and at home in case you lose it. If you lose your passport while traveling, immediately notify your Program Director and get in contact with the U.S. Embassy to obtain a replacement (you’ll need to get them one of the copies you made earlier). You won’t be able to get home without your passport!
Travel & Medical Insurance
Weber State University highly recommends all Study Abroad participants purchase travel and medical insurance before traveling. The right travel insurance can save you a great deal of time, money, and heartache if something happens while you’re gone. Some things to consider when looking for travel insurance include:
Remember that your personal or family health insurance plan may not cover travel to foreign countries, so check before you travel. Also, remember to bring all prescription medicine with you (and pack it in your carry-on).
- Make sure the policy includes the country (or countries) to which you’re traveling.
- Ensure the policy includes decent medical coverage while abroad (and double check the deductible you may have to pay).
- Look for a policy that includes “cancel for any reason” insurance – and purchase it right after you put your first deposit on the program.
- Check for trip interruption, emergency evacuation/repatriation, and loss/delay protection coverage (along with any other coverage you feel you may need).
- Read through the entire policy so you know about any fine print including pre-existing conditions.
Many students have a number of questions about spending money while on Study Abroad. We have a couple suggestions for you to ensure you have enough money for everything that may come up:
Also, be sure to check the current currency exchange rate before you embark to avoid any surprises.
- Travel with a credit card. If you don’t have one, consider applying for one so you have access to a little money in case of an emergency. Be sure the type of credit card (Visa, Mastercard, etc.) is widely accepted in your destination.
- Bring Cash. No matter where you’re traveling, be sure to have local currency. You can either order and/or exchange currency from your bank before your trip or use your debit/ATM card at an ATM in your destination. Try to avoid exchanging money at the airport – many currency exchange companies charge exorbitant fees to do so.
- Talk to your Bank. Before traveling, you should always let your bank know you’ll be out of the country to avoid them canceling your credit or debit card thinking there’s fraud. Make sure you know about all fees your bank charges for using your credit or debit card overseas (usually 1 to 3 percent), whether using it as a credit or ATM card.
- Safeguard your money. Pick-pocketing is always a risk while traveling, especially in areas popular to tourists. Always keep your cash, credit cards, and identification in a safe place – meaning you should never place your wallet in your backpack, store it in your back pocket, or leave it at your hotel. As with your passport, seriously consider a travel wallet that goes under your clothing to keep your belongings safe.
- Pay in Local Currency. If given the choice between paying a bill in U.S. Dollars or in local currency, always pay with local currency (even with your credit or debit card). Usually foreign entities that offer the ability to pay in U.S. Dollars either charge a high fee or use a highly-inflated exchange rate.