IENA’s staff has many years of experience in organizing international student exchange programs. We answer all kinds of questions every day and our favorite answers are always “Travel Light!” and “Be Flexible!” But there are a few other tips we would like to share with students starting out on their first IENA adventure. Here we’ve put together a short list of travel tips from our own experiences and from the feedback of thousands of participants. We’d love to add your suggestions also – email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Make 2 copies of all your documents. Leave one copy at home with someone you trust. Bring the other copy with you abroad, but keep it separate from the original documents.
- Set up a Gmail account in order to communicate and or store credit card and passport information. Scan any important documents and store them online or just email them to yourself so you can always access them from any computer in the world.
- Register for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) which is a free service to US citizens who are traveling to or living in a foreign country. It is a great way to keep abreast of current events overseas. You can register via https://step.state.gov/step/
- Set up a Skype account so you can stay in touch with friends and family at home.
- Download WhatsApp Messenger which is a cross-platform mobile messaging app which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. WhatsApp Messenger uses the same internet data plan that you use for email and web browsing so there is no cost to message and stay in touch with your friends. It is available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone and Nokia.
- Be sure you have adequate travel insurance – not just medical insurance.
- If you plan to drive while abroad, get an international driver’s license (contact the American Automobile Association for information).
- If you plan to rent a car while abroad, take the additional car insurance offered by the rental agent – automobile damage is not covered under your travel insurance policy.
- If you plan to carry prescription medicines, be sure to have authorization to carry such from your physician and always keeps meds in their original containers.
- Be smart, be safe. Be aware of yourself, your surroundings and your belongings at all times.
- Relax. People do things differently all over the world – and one way is not necessarily better than another. Watch and learn. Welcome the change and try to refrain from judgment.
- Meet people. Sure the places are incredible, the sites are amazing, and the pubs aren’t bad… but it’s the people you meet that will make the most lasting impression. Step outside your comfort zone and make friends with people from different lands and cultures!