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Some General Information Regarding Traveling and Living Abroad
These suggestions are not meant to convey the idea that you will have an emergency. Most
students and tourists who travel abroad NEVER have any problems. However, being prepared
can keep a small problem from becoming a serious problem.
Find a good travel guide such as Frommer’s, Lets Go! or Lonely Planet for the country that you will be visiting.
Read carefully those sections which focus upon: 1) entry requirements and customs regulations; 2) money, including
ATMs, travelers checks, and credit cards; and 3) health and health insurance.
Familiarize yourself with the international travel homepage (www.travel.state.gov) of the US Department of State.
From this page see “Tips for Travel Abroad”, “Living Abroad Tips”, information on getting your passport, and
information on “Studying Abroad”. Find the country-specific page for each country you will visit and determine 1)
the location of the embassy or consulate, 2) any travel advisories or warnings posted by the US Department of State
about that country, and 3) whether you need a visa to enter the country. Please read the information about the harsh
penalties involved for drug use in many countries. Note that there is very little that the United States can do to help
you if you are arrested for the possession of illegal drugs.
The drinking age abroad is usually 18. If you have seldom or never taken a drink or are unsure of your reaction to
alcohol, do not drink or go out with a person that you trust who will agree to see you safely home.
If you are staying for a month or more, you may want to register with the nearest US embassy or consulate upon
your arrival at your destination. Go to www.travel.state.gov/travel/livingabroad.html and register as a “New Short-
term Traveler”. This will enable the embassy to contact you in the event of an emergency, or if you lose your
passport the embassy will have your passport information on file and this will help you replace it.
Type up a list of emergency contact persons including their names, addresses, telephone numbers, and email
addresses. Include family members, friends, and your doctor (identify each person). Include the nearest US embassy
or consulate, and also include your congressman and senator (in case of passport or entry or reentry problems they
can get quicker action from the Department of State). Include the numbers to call if your credit or bankcards are
stolen. Include at least one person on your list who has a valid passport in case you need emergency assistance.
Leave each of your emergency contact persons a copy of your detailed itinerary with telephone numbers and contact
persons. If you will be studying at a foreign university, include the name and contact information for the
international program officer at that university. As soon as you know your mailing address and email address,
supply this information to each of your emergency contact persons and to Lander’s Study Abroad Office.
You will need a safe place to keep your valuable documents (passport / visa / tickets / bankcards / money) while
traveling. Do not place your valuable documents or prescription drugs in your checked luggage. You need one or
more hidden pouches that are inside of your clothing (a fanny pack just tells a thief where you are keeping your
valuables). You can keep small amounts of cash in a zippered front pocket.
Make photocopies of your valuable documents and of your emergency contact list. Carry one copy with you at all
times but keep it separate from the actual documents. Leave a copy or two with selected persons at home. Upon
arrival at your study abroad site, ask for the use of a safe or other secure place to keep your documents. In some
countries you will need to carry your passport at all times, otherwise carry a photocopy of the inside front cover and
the facing page, unless you will be crossing an international border.
Ask your bank if your debit card will work in the ATM machines at your destination. If it will, this will allow you
to avoid carrying a lot of cash and will give you the best (bank-to-bank) exchange rates. Tell your bank the dates
and the places that you will be traveling so that they will not assume that your bank/credit cards have been stolen
and stop honoring them. Know the fee your debit and credit cards charge for currency exchange transactions.
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If you feel that you will need a cell phone, ask your provider about the extent of their international coverage and
whether your phone is compatible with the system at your destination. It will probably be cheaper to buy a cell
phone after you arrive. Email access will be available through your program or through an “Internet Café”.
Taking expensive items will mean that you must be constantly worried about their security. Leave expensive
watches and jewelry at home. The electricity in Europe is supplied at 220 volts – not the 110 volts that we use in the
USA and the plugs are different. Small appliances (radios, battery chargers, etc.) will not work there without
transformers and plug adapters. If you can do without these appliances, leave them at home.
Visit your doctor for any needed immunizations and for advice on health issues and immunizations. Also see
www.cdc.gov/travel. If you have any chronic illnesses ask your doctor to give you a letter describing these
conditions and the treatments. Take enough prescription medicines (in their original vials) to last until you return
home, and also take an original written prescription for each drug (brand names vary abroad, so have these written
for generic drugs). Do not assume that common non-prescription drugs will be available – take your own supply.
Determine the extent to which your health and accident insurance policies will cover you while you are abroad.
Secure claims forms and information on proper procedures. Some credit cards and some travel agencies include
automatic insurance when you buy your airline tickets using their services. Lander requires that you purchase
emergency medical and accident insurance from Cultural Insurance Services International ($31/month) through the
Study Abroad Office unless the Director of Study Abroad waives this requirement.
If you will be studying at an academic institution or a site-based intensive language program, you should receive an
orientation session soon after you arrive. This session should give you specific answers to at least these questions:
- Is the water safe to drink (generally not a problem in Europe)?
- What precautions should I take when eating local food (generally not a problem in Europe)?
- Where may I buy food that meets my dietary needs/restrictions (i.e. for vegetarians, diabetics, etc.)?
- How extensive, safe, and reliable is the public transportation system?
- What are the laws and codes of conduct that are likely to impact me?
- What is the law with regard to the use of alcohol and drugs?
- What is the prevailing local sentiment towards people of my nationality, race, religion, sexual orientation, etc?
- Are there non-verbal behaviors that are considered inappropriate or rude?
- Are there parts of town that I should avoid?
- Where and from whom can I get help if I need it?
Travel as light as possible, particularly if you will be moving about by train or bus. For a short summer program, a
small (overhead compartment size) suitcase and a small backpack should be sufficient. For a semester, two 50-
pound suitcases and a backpack (the air travel limit) should be plenty. Check the airline website for luggage size
and weight restrictions. Take layers of clothing rather than taking light clothing for warm weather and heavy
clothing for cold weather. Take a small flashlight and a travel alarm clock.
If you are planning to check your suitcase(s) on the flight over, carry your important papers, prescription drugs, and
a two-day supply of clothing and toiletries in your backpack or other carry-on item.
A final note: Take a few small presents to give to your instructors, hosts, etc. Caps, t-shirts, or
other items which represent Lander, South Carolina, or the USA are a good choice. Keep a daily
journal while abroad and take a camera along as well (in twenty years you will be glad you did).
Take a Lander T-shirt or sweat-shirt and have your photo made in interesting places for use on
our study abroad website and the study abroad wall in the Learning Center.
Remember to “Study first, party second”. Be well. Be safe. Have a good time.