Preparing for Your Trip Abroad
Apply early for
your passport and, if necessary, any visas: Passports are required to enter
and/or depart most countries around the world. Apply for a passport as soon as
possible. Some countries also require U.S. citizens to obtain visas before
entering. Most countries require visitors who are planning to study or work
abroad to obtain visas before entering. Check with the embassy of the foreign
country that you are planning to visit for up-to-date visa and other entry
requirements. (Passport and visa information is available on the Internet at
Learn about the
countries that you plan to visit. Before departing, take the time to do some research about the
people and their culture, and any problems that the country is experiencing
that may affect your travel plans. The Department of State publishes
Notes on about 170 countries. These brief, factual pamphlets contain
information on each country's culture, history, geography, economy, government,
and current political situation.
Consular Information Sheet. Consular
Information Sheets provide up-to-date travel information on any country in
the world that you plan to visit. They cover topics such as entry regulations,
the crime and security situation, drug penalties, road conditions, and the
location of the U.S. embassy, consulates, and consular agencies.
Travel Warnings and Public Announcements. Travel Warnings
recommend U.S. citizens defer travel to a country because of dangerous
conditions. Public Announcements provide fast-breaking information about
relatively short-term conditions that may pose risks to the security of
Find out the
location of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. If you are traveling to a remote
area or one that is experiencing civil unrest, find out the location of the
nearest U.S. embassy or consulate and register with the Consular Section when
you arrive. (U.S. embassy and consulate locations can be found in the country's
Consular Information Sheet.) If your family needs to reach you because of an
emergency, they can pass a message to you through the
Office of Overseas
Citizens Services at 202-647-5225. This office will contact the embassy or
consulate in the country where you are traveling and pass a message from your
family to you. Remember consular officers cannot cash checks, lend money or
serve as your attorney. They can, however, if the need arises, assist you in
obtaining emergency funds from your family, help you find an attorney, help you
find medical assistance, and replace your lost or stolen passport.
Find out what
information your school offers. Find out whether your school offers additional information for
students who are planning to study, travel, or work abroad. Many student
advisors can provide you with information about studying or working abroad.
They may also be able to provide you with information on any travel benefits
for students (e.g. how to save money on transportation and accommodations, and
committing yourself or your finances, find out about the organization and what
it offers. The
majority of private programs for vacation, study or work abroad are reputable
and financially sound. However, some charge exorbitant fees, use deliberately
false "educational" claims, and provide working conditions far different from
those advertised. Even programs of legitimate organizations can be poorly
Travel Tips for Students
- Make sure you
have a signed, valid passport and visas, if required. Also, before you go, fill
in the emergency information page of your passport!
- Read the Consular Information
Sheets (and Public Announcements or Travel Warnings, if applicable) for the
countries you plan to visit.
- Leave copies of
your itinerary, passport data page and visas with family or friends at home, so
that you can be contacted in case of an emergency. Keep your host program
informed of your whereabouts.
- Make sure you
have insurance that will cover your emergency medical needs (including medical
evacuation) while you are overseas.
yourself with local laws and customs of the countries to which you are
traveling. Remember, while in a foreign country, you are subject to its
- Do not leave
your luggage unattended in public areas and never accept packages from
- While abroad,
avoid using illicit drugs or drinking excessive amounts of alcoholic beverages,
and associating with people who do.
- Do not become a
target for thieves by wearing conspicuous clothing and expensive jewelry and do
not carry excessive amounts of cash or unnecessary credit cards.
- Deal only with
authorized agents when you exchange money to avoid violating local
- When overseas,
avoid demonstrations and other situations that may become unruly or where
anti-American sentiments may be expressed.