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Travel Considerations

About Travel Considerations for International Education

Whether you're studying abroad all semester long or taking a shorter break trip, traveling as a college student requires preparation and precautions. With the right research, precautions, and preparedness, studying abroad can be an amazing and transformative undergraduate experience. Paying attention to safety and security risks, documentation, medication needs, and other travel preparations will give you greater peace of mind. We'll get you started with the information below.

one single blue american passport on a wooden desk

Getting There Safely and Prepared

Preparing for an international experience requires careful planning and addressing several key areas before departure. Ensuring you have the proper travel documents like a valid passport and visa is critical, as requirements can vary based on your citizenship and destination countries. Staying updated on travel advisories issued by the U.S. Department of State allows you to make informed decisions about potential risks. Additionally, prioritizing your health is essential - this includes getting required vaccinations recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), understanding regulations around traveling with medications, and obtaining comprehensive travel health insurance to cover medical expenses abroad. By thoroughly addressing these pre-departure logistics for passports, visas, safety guidance, health preparations, and insurance coverage, you can embark on your international study or work opportunity with confidence and peace of mind.

Passports and Visas

Obtaining the proper travel documents is an essential first step for any international journey. Depending on your citizenship and destination, you may need to acquire a valid passport and visa to gain entry and legally participate in study or work abroad programs.

If you carry a passport for another country, please look up travel requirements of citizens of that country.

Use travel.stage.gov links to learn more about passport and visa information:

Ensure your passport is valid for the required time period for that specific country.

If you are a U.S. citizen, Mount sponsored programs do not usually require a visa. However, if you plan to do back-to-back programs or if you are a citizen of another country, you may need a visa. Please check the visa requirements.

Country Information & Travel Advisories from Travel.State.Gov

Staying informed about the latest country information, travel advisories and safety information for your destination is crucial. Regularly review the travel advisories issued by the U.S. Department of State, which provide up-to-date guidance on potential risks and safety concerns in various countries. These advisories can help you make informed decisions and take necessary precautions to ensure a secure and enjoyable experience abroad. It is essential to monitor these resources throughout the planning process and during your time abroad, as situations can evolve rapidly. By staying vigilant and heeding the latest advisories, you can better mitigate potential risks and enjoy a safe and enriching international experience.

Enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is highly recommended for all international travel. This free service allows U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to receive important safety updates and travel advisories from the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Prioritizing Your Well-Being Abroad

At Mount St. Mary’s University (MSMU), we understand that traveling and studying in a new cultural environment can present unique challenges. That is why we encourage all students to prioritize their overall well-being throughout the journey. Here are some ways to do so and be prepared for your journey!

Travel Health Insurance

U.S. health insurance plans, including Medicare, typically do not provide coverage for medical expenses incurred outside of the country. Most foreign hospitals and healthcare providers require upfront cash payments, so it is essential to obtain comprehensive travel health insurance that covers your destination. Review your policy details carefully to ensure it covers any unique medical requirements or potential hazards associated with your travel plans. For more information on Travel Health Insurance and your options, read the Department of State insurance coverage information, contact the trip leader, and read the Undergraduate Student Study Abroad Handbook.

Vaccinations and Medications

Before your trip, research and comply with the vaccination recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for your specific destination(s). Certain routine vaccinations, such as those for chickenpox, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, flu, measles, mumps, rubella, polio, shingles, and COVID-19, should be up to date. Additionally, some prescription and over-the-counter medications that are legal in the U.S. may be prohibited in other countries. Consult the embassy or consulate of your destination country for specific regulations regarding medication importation.

By taking the necessary precautions and following health guidelines, you can better ensure a safe and enjoyable international experience. For personalized advice or further assistance, please consult with a healthcare professional familiar with travel medicine.

Mental Health Support

The experience of immersing yourself in a different country can be exciting but also mentally and emotionally taxing at times. If you currently receive counseling or therapy, we recommend discussing your travel plans with your mental health professional. They may provide guidance on continuing your care remotely or recommend resources at your destination. Additionally, practicing self-care techniques like meditation, journaling, or exercise can help manage stress.

Accommodating Special Needs

We aim to make our international programs accessible to all students. If you have a disability, medical condition, or other special need requiring accommodation, please notify our office early in the application process. This allows us sufficient time to evaluate options and implement reasonable accommodations at your destination, such as arranging for physical accessibility, academic adjustments, or dietary modifications.

Dietary Considerations

Depending on your destination, it may be challenging to accommodate certain dietary restrictions or preferences due to local cuisine traditions. We encourage you to research food options ahead of time and consult with program staff about meal provisions. In some cases, you may need to supplement with your own foods or supplies.

Your well-being is our top priority. By being proactive and having open discussions with us, we can collaborate to facilitate an enriching, supportive, and accessible experience abroad.

plane and globe graphic

Pre-Departure Information

Travel Together for a Seamless Experience

For many of our international programs, you will have the option to travel as a group with fellow participants. Taking advantage of these group flight arrangements can provide a smoother, more cohesive experience from the start.

Group Flights May Be Included or Optional

Depending on your program, a group flight reservation for all participants may either be included in your program fees or offered as an optional add-on. These group flights allow you to travel together and meet up with others at the destination.

Flexibility to Make Independent Plans

If a group flight option is not available or does not fit your needs, you're welcome to book your own travel arrangements. Your program leader will provide guidance to ensure everyone arrives at the proper location by the designated dates.

Coordinating Travel if Booking Separately

Even if you cannot take the group flight, you may coordinate independently with other participants to travel together. Your program leader can assist in connecting you with fellow students to organize group travel plans.

Arrive Together, Experience Together

While not required, we highly recommend taking advantage of any group travel options provided. Arriving and getting acquainted with others at the start helps build camaraderie and provides a shared experience from day one of your international journey.

Staying Connected While Abroad

One of the first things to plan is how you will communicate internationally. Consider purchasing a local SIM card or an international phone plan for your mobile device. Check if your accommodation and school have Wi-Fi access. And verify if your current phone is compatible with networks at your destination.

Power Up

Make sure your electronics will work properly abroad. Determine if your devices are dual voltage or require a converter. Bring a portable charger and power strip. And do not forget the right plug adapters for the outlet types used in that country!

What to Pack

Packing smart is essential for a smooth travel experience, whether studying abroad for a semester or a short-term program. A well-organized bag should include essentials like:

  • Important documents (passport, IDs, etc.)
  • Toiletries and medications
  • Proper clothing layers for the climate
  • Academic and travel accessories
  • Local currency and debit/credit cards

For comprehensive packing lists and more communication tips, refer to our Student Handbook/Pre-Departure Guide. Your trip leader is also happy to advise you personally on preparing for your international travels.

Contact us at goabroad@msmary.edu for more information about your specific situation.