Summer is in the offing, and with it comes a bevy of international experiences in store for students. Before starting the migration, here are some tips for how to prepare.

  1. Get Your Shots! Depending on where you’re going, immunizations might be recommended or in some cases even required. So get your shot before your ship sails. Visit the Centers for Disease Control Prevention website for info.
  2.  Do You Need a Visa? It isn’t all about the passport. Some countries require a Visa just for a pleasure excursion — and if you’re going abroad for a job or internship, the chance you’ll need one triples. The U.S. Department of Consular Affairs has what you need to know — and remember, if you thought the wait time for a passport was bad, don’t expect it to get any better for the Visa.  
  3. Carry That Cash Pouch. Travel is a ripe time to get ripped off, and unless you want to imitate a baby bump with a fanny pack, best to keep currency and important IDs in a small belt pouch. REI and AAA offer several slim-fit options.  
  4. Tell Your Bank. Unless you want to be that person sitting in Copenhagen Airport at 11 p.m., calling her bank because her card was frozen (referencing yours truly here), notify your bank of ALL the locations you plan to visit in advance, AND check to make sure they put the notation on your account. Any unreported destinations may show up on your card history as potential card fraud, leading your bank to freeze or even cancel and reissue your card. It might be a good conversation starter — but it isn’t such a great experience.
  5. Right Charger, Right Country. Battery life IS life when you’re cut off from home and friends. So instead of realizing you’re not able to plug in your devices at the airport terminal, order/purchase what you need beforehand. The World Standards website gives a comprehensive list of plug, socket, and voltage needs by country.
  6. E.T., Phone Home! You can’t unsee that $200 phone bill for international roaming charges … unless you never saw it. Many U.S. phone carriers will try to charge the heart and soul out of you for international calls, texts, and data, although T-Mobile’s Simple Choice Plan does provide free international roaming data in over 140 countries. Other cheap options include temporarily switching your SIM card to a cheap international alternative, or keeping a plan with decent international data and having your family and friends contact you through apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, Skype, and Google Hangouts. Added bonus: WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, and Facebook now let users call people using WiFi.
  7. Got Docs? Proof of insurance comes in handy if you need to got to a hospital, as does your student I.D. if you’re taking advantage of discounts for tourist attractions and entertainment. Also, keep copies of nearby embassy information and flight itineraries, just in case. Breathe, Watson. You’ll make it. 

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