Preparing for Travel Abroad: Text Only

 Paris, France

Moving to a new country will be an exciting, and sometimes trying, adventure; but ultimately, it’s what you personally make of the circumstances that will ensure your study abroad is an experience to fondly remember!  By finding out more about the culture and new environment you will live in, you will likely feel better prepared for what you encounter overseas.  And of course, having a positive and open attitude can be key to coping with difficult (or simply different) situations.  Read on for some tips and ideas on navigating your new terrain!

9 months out

  1. Do you have a passport? – You must have a passport to leave the U.S., so go ahead and check that off your list! And, if you've got one already, make sure your passport is valid for at least six months past your planned return date.
  2. Do you need a visa? - While you’re at it check to see if you will need a visa to visit any countries on your agenda. You'll want to check on this early enough so you have plenty of time to go through the process before your planned departure date.
  3. Start saving. - It is never too early to start saving for your trip! Go ahead and start planning and being aware of your finances now, so you can take full advantage of your time abroad.

6 months out

  1. Brush up on your region! – Before you step on that plane, learn about the place you want to visit. What is the culture like? What languages are spoken there? What are some of the, can't miss sites? Now is the time to get excited about where you're headed!
  2. Sort out your priorities. - The options for things to do and see while you are traveling abroad are aplenty! Based on your research and personal interests, start creating a plan for your trip.
  3. Get familiar with the language. - There are thousands of languages spoken around the world! So why not take advantage of the various free, I repeat, FREE, resources for learning the language? Mango, for example, is free for everyone at the University of Arkansas through the library's resources.

3 months out

  1. Purchase a Flight. - Take the leap! Word on the street is this is a great time to book flights for the best bang for your buck. There is also a theory that Tuesday afternoon will serve up the best bargains.
  2. Check-in with the doctor. - This is also the time to check with your physician about any immunizations you may need and any health conditions you have. You can also check to see if there are any issues with prescriptions you might be taking with you.
  3. Get a cell phone plan. - DO NOT forget to look into your options for an international cell phone plan. Our phones are so smart now that it's easy to forget that in most cases there are major fees for cell phone usage abroad. Contact your provider and look into your options ahead of time to find the best deals.


  1. Turn off your data- To prevent surprise data charges while abroad turn off your phone's data feature.
  2. Buy a watch – You don't necessarily want to pull out your phone every five minutes so having a snazzy new watch is the thing to do.
  3. Converters & adapters – If technology is your life, you really need to make sure you can charge things. Get the correct converters and adapters for the regions you are going.
  4. Wi-Fi – Take advantage of places with free Wi-Fi. This is another great perk to coffee shops! And if all else fails, McDonald's usually sports an open connection.
  5. Open the lines of communication. - Avoid extra expenses and download apps that allow you to talk and chat for free like Skype, Viber, and Whatsapp.

1 Month Out

  1. Contact your bank. - Take off will be here before you know it, so find out how you can access money abroad. Contact your bank to see if there are any fees or surcharges you should expect when you use your cards overseas. Also, getting some of the local currency before you leave so that you have cash on hand when you arrive in the country is never a bad idea.
  2. Contact your Bank & Credit Cards. - Notify your bank and credit card companies to let them know the dates you will be traveling and where you'll be during your trip. This should avoid them thinking your cards are stolen and freezing your assets.

2 weeks out

  1. Photocopies, just do it! - Make copies of all of your important documents (passport, visa, credit cards, etc.). Make sure you have copies with you and leave a few with your emergency contacts back home.
  2. Don’t forget the good stuff. – Find a cultural gift to take and handout while you are abroad. Something that represents your home institution, your hometown, or your state! Traveling abroad is full of international exchanges and a gift from home can be a perfect way to share your culture with others.
  3. Register with U.S. State Department. - This is an underrated resource that can help a lot! By registering you will be able to receive important information from the U.S. Embassy in your host country about safety and, if needed, emergency information.


  1. Know the rules! – Before you start packing review the TSA and your airline's rules and regulations. Pay attention to rules about how much your suitcase can weigh, how large it can be and what is allowed in your carry on, etc.
  2. Get the forecast! – Make sure to check the weather in the country you are going to in order to pack the right clothes. Tip: The rest of the world tends to measure in Celsius!
  3. Just carry-on. – Along with your important documents and electronics, make sure to pack a change of clothes and toiletries in your carry-on, just in case your checked luggage takes an unplanned adventure of its own before arriving.
  4. Liquid rules? – Follow the 311 rule (3 oz bottles, 1 quart-sized bag; 1 bag per person) when you pack liquids in your carry-on bag.

48-24 hours out

  1. Check-in to your flight. – Most flights allow you to check-in electronically 24 hours before the take-off time and then have your boarding pass ready on your phone or tablet. You can also get alerts about your flights this way!
  2. Double check your luggage. - Before you leave, review your bags to make sure you have everything you need. Don't forget to leave things you'll need while traveling, like your passport, in your carry on! There is nothing worse than taking off and realizing your charger is still sitting on your bed side table, ending in a seven hour flight with no music, games, or movies.
  3. Arrive 2 hours early. - The day of your flight make sure to arrive at least two hours early to the airport. Better safe than stuck in security and missing your flight