When studying abroad, travel tips are always useful! Consider the following as you prepare for your CAFNR study abroad experience.
- Up-to-date vaccinations ensure a healthy trip. Check out the Centers for Disease Controls’ traveler’s health website to see if any certain vaccinations are recommended for specific countries you are visiting.
- Never leave luggage unattended as it could easily be stolen or tampered with by others.
- Try not to attract attention to being a traveler. Dress appropriately (tidy and neat clothes, not gym clothes!), leave expensive jewelry at home, look at maps/guides ahead of time and avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
- Do not travel by yourself. Always travel in groups of two or more.
- Be aware of your surroundings and vigilant of your safety.
- Familiarize yourself with local laws and customs. While in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws.
- Carry a business card with your hotel’s name and address on it in the native language of that country. This card will be useful if you get lost and need a taxi ride back to your hotel.
Passport and Identification
Leave a copy of your passport, other forms of identification, and your credits cards with someone at home. Also, carry a copy with you during your travel. If lost or stolen, these copies are invaluable when trying to replace your passport or cancel credit cards.
- Carry your passport only when necessary. Keep it in a secure place, like a hotel safe, and carry a copy with you.
- If your passport is lost or stolen, contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate as soon as possible.
- Leave any unnecessary identification at home and be sure to carry your CAFNR emergency information card with you at all times.
Handling Money While Overseas
Because this differs somewhat based on destination, details specific to the host country are covered in each program-specific CAFNR orientation session.
- Contact your credit card company before your study abroad to inform them of your travel plans in order to insure that your bank does not put an immediate hold on your account once foreign transactions appear.
- In general, US debit cards are the preferred method of accessing funds while overseas (as long as they have a MasterCard/Visa designation). These cards will offer the best exchange rates for currency. However, be sure to contact your debit card company to inquire as to the fees associated with using your card abroad. Often, it is better to withdraw larger sums of cash (g., enough funds for the week each Monday) in lieu of multiple smaller withdrawals to help to minimize the accrual transaction fees. In most countries, day-to-day spending tends to be much more cash-based than in the US.
- US MasterCard/Visa credit cards are generally accepted in most countries whereas Discover and American Express cards are not. Not all vendors abroad accept credit card payments and/or will have significantly higher purchase minimums for their use. In these cases, cash is the preferred form of payment.
- It is advised to obtain local currency prior to departing from the US. Though the exchange rate and commission fees are on the high side, it is a good idea to have enough of the local currency in hand upon arrival to cover any expenses you may have in the first 24 hours or until you can locate an ATM. Foreign currency can usually be ordered from your bank, but may take a couple weeks to arrive.
Communicating Back Home
- Remember that you will not be able to contact home as soon as the plane lands! We advise students to inform their families that they will contact them within 48 hours of arriving at their final destination. This gives students enough time to access a phone, set up their internet connections, etc.
- There are many options available to facilitate communication from abroad. The easiest, most cost-effective ways to communicate internationally are email, social media and Skype.
- International calling plans for US phones are available, but can be very costly or may not work once abroad. If considering these options, be sure to know exactly what services are covered and in what quantities as data use/overages can quickly accrue charges.
- Depending on the length of the study abroad program, it is often cheaper and easier for participants to purchase an inexpensive “pay-as-you-go” phone or SIM card once they reach their destination.