International Travel Tips to Keep in Mind This Spring
Vol. 17 No. 7
Spring can be a busy travel season for many people. Whether you’re planning a spring or summer getaway for yourself and your family, or chaperoning a school-sponsored trip, here are things we recommend everyone know before they go abroad.
Perform your due diligence and share these tips with other travelers to ensure your trip is a seamless and easy experience. Would you add anything to our list? Let us know in a comment below.
- Check travel advisories. Before departure, check for travel advisories regarding any country you will visit. This includes countries you may travel through en route to your destination.
- Stay informed. Enroll all travelers in the U.S. government’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This ensures you receive important updates. It also guarantees the local U.S. embassy knows that you’re in the country and makes it easier for them to contact you if necessary. Also consider TSA regulations and required timelines when making your travel arrangements.
- Prepare for any emergency. Whether you’re traveling alone, with family, or with a group of students, provide specifics on where you’ll be to friends and families at home. Purchase travel insurance, including medical evacuation, and know how to use it if needed. Travel with a list of all emergency numbers in the country or countries you’re visiting, including the local 911 counterpart. On arrival, determine the location of the nearest U.S. embassy and carry contact information for the embassy with you at all times. Finally, always be alert and aware of your surroundings.
- Pack the right gear. Know the expected weather during your trip to take the appropriate gear. Remember to take a small first aid kit and phone charger with country-specific adapters.
- Keep your money in order. Alert your credit card companies of international travel plans before you depart. Be sure to have enough cash or traveler’s checks on hand should your credit cards not work, but avoid “flashing your cash” as not to become a target for a pickpocket or thief. Also, keep cash separate from credit cards on your person so, if you lose one, you can still pay for goods and services.
- Prepare your medications. If you or a student takes important medications, carry it at all times. Also bring a duplicate supply and keep it in a separate place. All prescription medications should be labeled correctly in original prescription bottles.
- Follow passport rules. Be certain that all passports are valid for at least six months past the return travel date. Also be sure to scan your passport and carry a color copy of the photo page. For minor students, instruct them to leave a copy of both their passport bio page and current Visa page(s) with a parent or guardian. You can also choose to keep a copy of these pages in school records. If either document is lost, these copies would likely expedite the process of replacing them in embassies abroad.
- Learn about the country you’re visiting. Be familiar with country-specific requirements with regard to visas, required inoculations, rules of consent for traveling with minors, and whether an international driver’s license is needed for operating a vehicle. Also become familiar with local laws, customs, and how medical care is delivered.
- Avoid logos. If possible, try to avoid logos that predominantly represent the US on clothing and travel bags. While many students are proud of their school or city in the US, it can identify them as easy, wealthy targets.
- Arrive on time. Those taking international flights should arrive at the airport two to three hours in advance to check their bags and get through security. Time requirements vary from airport to airport, depending on traffic patterns. When in doubt, check the rules for the airport that you'll be using.
International travel is an enriching and gratifying experience for learning about different places and cultures. Use these tips to prepare and have the experience of a lifetime.
Additional ISM resources:
The Source for Business and Operations Vol. 3 No. 6 Trip and Volunteer Protocols