We’ve done a decent amount of traveling and have made some classic travel mistakes in my time. Be smarter than us by following these tips!
- I know we’ve mentioned this before, but tell your bank and credit card companies that you will travel abroad. Make sure they won’t block your accounts when they see international charges, and ask for phone numbers to call from abroad in the event you have any issues. The 1-800 numbers on the back won’t always work from overseas.
- Do not plan to use your blow dryers and flat irons that you use here in the US. Even with a plug adaptor and converter, the higher voltage can destroy (as in burn to a crisp!) your appliances and could potentially knock out power in entire buildings, which isn’t a great way to make friends abroad. If you’re not willing to forgo the blow dryers and flat irons for a few months, then it’s best to purchase local versions that operate on 220 volts once you get abroad.
- Bring a small weekend-size bag/backpack/collapsible duffle bag for trips you’ll take during your time abroad. Pack it with everything you’ll need for the first few days of your trip and bring it as a carry-on on the plane, so you’ll be ready in case your baggage is delayed.
- Don’t forget that you cannot bring more than 3 oz. of any liquid in your carry on for your flight overseas. Airport security can be very stringent. Make sure you follow all the rules when it comes to flying!
- If you follow a special diet (vegetarian, kosher, etc.) don’t forget to inform your airline ahead of time. It’s horribly unpleasant to be hungry and thirsty while you’re on a plane and they control when you get meals, so bring some snacks (stay away from fruit, especially if you have a layover in a European airport, as some countries don’t want you to bring perishable food into their airports). And make sure you have your own water on the flight (though you can’t take any through security, remember).
- Make several photocopies of your passport ID page and credit/debit cards to leave with a family member or someone you trust. That way, if these items are lost or stolen, they’re much easier to replace.
- Set up a plan of communicating with your family members while abroad—we recommend calling or e-mailing them only once or twice a week while abroad. Your parents will ALWAYS want to talk to you more often than that, but remember that part of studying in another country is putting some distance between you and your old life. You’ll be better for it!
- Buy a journal. Study Abroad is a profoundly personal experience and Facebook updates alone won’t capture the spirit of what you are doing. Keep a journal that is meant to be just for you.