Booking a flight, securing your travel documents, packing, and planning your additional travel are some the most exciting parts of planning for an education abroad experience, but it can all be a little intimidating at the same time. UW-Platteville Education Abroad offers some resources and suggestions to make planning a little easier:
Apply for a U.S. Passport
Apply for a Visa
1. Flights are usually cheaper during mid-week travel.
2. Check alternative itineraries by altering the leave and return dates, departing on a few days earlier can save students money.
ONLINE SEARCH ENGINES AND AGENCIES
Use an online search engine or agency to find the cheapest departure date/time and then go to the airline’s website to book the ticket. Airlines may match or beat the price listed on the online search engine.
1. AirfareWatchdog.com offers additional tips on finding the cheapest flights.
2. Student Universe offers discounted flights and deals for students.
Watch this video for some helpful packing tips!
1. Take a small amount of U.S. Dollars to exchange into the local currency upon arrival. Exchanging money in the host country will get students a better exchange rate and will give them enough cash to get them started as they are orientating themselves in the new location.
2. Use a U.S. debit card to withdraw local currency. Withdrawing local currency through an ATM will often offer the best exchange rate and is very easy in most locations. Students should confirm their U.S. bank’s international transaction fee and alert the bank that they will be traveling, so the card does not get cut off. In addition, swiping debit cards at shops, cafes, grocery stores, etc. is not as common or accepted abroad, so it is important to have cash on hand.
3. Get a credit card just in case. Having a credit card in case of emergency offers piece of mind for students and their parents.
Xe.com lists up-to-the-minute currency exchange rates for currencies worldwide.
Online Travel Resources
- CountryReports.org: Country-specific cultural, historical, and statistical information.
- ISEP Country Handbooks: Country-specific education, visa and residency, culture, daily life, money matters, health and safety, and packing information.
- ThePaperBoy.com: Newspaper links from around the globe.
- U.S. Department of State Country Specific Information: Country-specific safety and security, visas and residency, country facts sheets, and travel information.
- U.S. Department of State Students Abroad: Information on everything from health to smart travel and from news and alerts to voting abroad.
Researching accommodations and must-see sites prior to traveling can save students a lot of time, money, and headaches. Some recommended resources include:
- HostelWorld.com: Read reviews on and book hostels world wide.
- Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree Forum: Travelers from around the world use this forum to see and give advice on everything from accommodation to culture.
Electricity, Converters, and Adapters
Step 2: Only take the essentials: Hairdryers, irons, electric shavers, etc. can be easily purchased worldwide and then students don’t run the risk of ruining any expensive U.S. electronics. Most new laptops convert voltage automatically, and if so, the power cord should have a label saying "Input 100V-240V/50Hz or 60Hz". In that case, an adaptor will do the trick and a converter is not required.
Cell Phones and Calling Home
Most students will forgo all of the hassle and expense of using their U.S. phone abroad and will purchase an inexpensive phone abroad to connect with friends and their roommates or host family in-country. Cell phones, comparable to U.S. track phones, can be purchased inexpensively in most countries and students can choose to purchase minutes and pay-as-they go instead of committing to a plan. Recommendations on where to purchase a phone will be made during the on-site orientation at students’ program sites.
As for calling the U.S., using a local cell phone can be very costly, but texting can be affordable. More often than not, students choose to use Skype to connect with home. Skype allows students to call other Skype users for free or to put money on their Skype account to call any landline or cell phone worldwide.