Memorial Day weekend has passed, the 2009 NAFSA Conference is in full swing, and summer is finally settling into the Northwest. That means the travel season is well upon us, and it’s peak time for international students and group programs studying with A.C.E. In addition to the usual concerns, current economic and health worries can create some extra hiccups when it comes to international travel. We offer some simple and reliable international travel tips below.
The Basics: Always have your passport! It’s simple enough advice, but any globetrotter who doesn’t follow it won’t get very far. In addition to this essential, making a checklist of your own travel needs is a good way to assure your pre-travel peace of mind. Did you pack your toothpaste? Your favorite pair of jeans? You know the drill. Also, make sure you have a good idea of what the weather will be like where you are going. Pack light and pack smart.
Customs and Immigration: Know what you can and can’t take to or from where you are going. You should also have any and all travel documents and medications handy for inspection. Anticipate long lines to ensure you get where you need to be on schedule, and above all else, be patient and polite.
Money: Make sure you have enough of it. It’s also a good idea to have some cash in the currency where you are landing.
Health: There’s nothing quite like a cold or flu to ruin your time abroad. Make sure you are in good health before you travel, and stay that way by washing your hands frequently, eating food that has been handled and prepared properly, and getting your normal amount of rest. Depending on where you are traveling, immunizations may be in order. It’s also a good idea to pack some stomach medicine in case you eat something that doesn’t treat you right.
Insurance: Make sure a friend or relative has your itinerary and contact information. Also check your overseas health coverage and familiarize yourself with the local laws and customs. A “when in Rome” approach will help acculturate you to your destination, helping you navigate your way through a new culture and ensuring a valuable experience.
Just for Students: If you are coming to study with A.C.E., make sure you have your signed F-1 visa with you when you arrive. Also, be sure you know where you are going. Remember, we can arrange an airport pick-up for you in addition your home-stay. If you have any concerns, contact our office for assistance!
This advice is very cursory, but plenty of additional resources can be found on-line or at your local bookstore. The U.S. State Department has very comprehensive information for travelers, as well as complete listings of customs restrictions. If you have anything to add, please post a comment below. My last few words of wisdom are to have fun and keep an open mind. The whole point of traveling is to learn about the world around us and enjoy it.