Preparation for Travel

Passport basics:

  • It can take several months to get a passport; apply now if you don’t have one
  • Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months after you return from travel

Determine if you'll need a visa:

Try the U.S. State Department, or your home country’s embassy
Then ask these questions:

  • What type of visa do I need (tourist, student)?
  • How long will it take for my visa to arrive?
  • Will I need a transit visa (for a layover or travel through another country on the way to my destination)?

International Students and Visas:

Non-U.S. citizens returning to the U.S. after travel can run into complications, so begin the visa process early

Print and take your International SOS and health insurance cards

Understand your health insurance coverage

Know you're covered!

Don’t make assumptions about what will be covered!

  1. Determine if your current health insurance plan covers you while abroad, including for chronic medical conditions
  2. If you’re not covered abroad, or have incomplete coverage for your needs, other health insurance options are available. For example: HTH Worldwide
  3. Discuss your options with your parents or guardian, and decide if you need to purchase an individual plan for yourself

Start with these resources:

Learn about:

  • Political climate, weather, crime, what to bring, health issues, cultural differences, risks, differences in laws, what to expect, transportation, holidays or election days
  • The location of the nearest U.S. embassy or your home country’s embassy

See to your cash needs
Tell your bank and credit card companies that you’ll be traveling

  • Ask if they charge foreign transaction fees
  • Ask if you’ll need a PIN to make purchases abroad

Clean out your wallet or purse

  • Take only the credit cards and ID you will need

Find out if traveler’s checks are a viable option or if you should rely on a debit card and ATMs to obtain cash

Share a copy of your itinerary with family or a friend
Provide them with a copy of your passport data page and any visas as well. This will make it easier for them to contact you in an emergency

Make copies of the following documents

  • Passport identification page and visa
  • Driver's license
  • Insurance cards
  • Credit cards (front and back)
  • Flight and other travel itineraries
  • Immunizations and prescriptions
  • Significant medical history (e.g., surgeries, major illnesses)
  • The letter of admission to your university abroad or your study abroad program


  • Leave a copy of each at home with family or a friend
  • Keep a copy in your luggage (separate from any originals)
  • Scan and email copies to yourself or store photos of them on your smart phone