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While Traveling Abroad:

1. Consider travel insurance. 

Compare different companies, options and rates by getting a Free quote from InsureMyTrip 

2. Our recommended Packing List:


  • Valid Passport with a tourist visa stamped inside if needed. Also, bring two photocopies of your photo page and your immunization card/information.. 

  • All US travelers, including children, on return to the U.S. by land or sea will have to present a valid U.S. passport (or an equivalent travel document) for reentry into the U.S. Children under the age of 16 and children between the ages of 16-18 traveling with organized groups traveling by land or sea, will still be permitted to use birth certificates or other proof of citizenship. Travelers are advised to check the document requirements of the specific countries on their itineraries. 

  • Keep your passport in a safe place while traveling. Before traveling, take a photo of your important documents and send a copy to your own email. This will allow you to access them easily in case they are lost or stolen. Alternatively, take copies of your documents with you and store them separately from the original. Leave another copy with someone at home.

  • Bring additional passport photos in case your documents need to be replaced.

  • International Student Identification card: can be purchased from

  • Duffel Bag or Large Backpack: It’s fine if your duffel has wheels, but you should be able to carry it when you are in areas where it cannot roll. You may also want to consider purchasing an internal frame pack if you will be carrying heavy items for an extended period of time.

  • Small Daypack: for the plane and day trips.

  • Lightweight/compact Sleeping Bag or sleep sack for staying in hostels or places that may not have clean bedding.

  • Camping Sleep Pad: foam or Ensolite pad, if you will not be staying in hotels.

  • Mosquito Tent or Net where needed.

  • Towel: A lightweight towel that packs up small, such as a Shammy, is better than a bulky beach towel.

  • Toiletries: Bring toiletries in small, travel size bottles; you can refill or buy more if needed. Women should bring feminine hygiene products.

  • Personal Medications: If you take prescription medications, bring enough for the length of your entire trip. Bring an extra pair of glasses/contacts and extra solution.

  • Water Bottles: durable plastic 1 quart bottles like Nalgene bottles that are BPA free.

  • Water Purification Treatment: Available at outdoor stores. We recommend chlorine dioxide (Aqua Mira) and iodine or pure filters.

  • Garbage Bags/Ziploc Bags: for storage/laundry.

  • Headlamp and/or Flashlight: with extra batteries and bulb.

  • Lightweight Work Gloves: if you will be doing hands-on volunteer work.

  • Insect Repellant: lotion or pump spray, not aerosol.

  • Sunblock: 1 for skin and 1 for lips.

  • Travel Alarm Clock or Watch with Alarm: remember to bring a power inverter if needed.

  • Extra Batteries: for alarm clock and other electronic devices.

  • Money Belt: one that fits under your clothing.

  • Pens/Pencils

  • Personal Mini First-Aid Kid:

    • Band-Aids

    • Alcohol Swabs

    • Moleskin pads

    • Pepto-Bismol/Tums

    • Anti-Itch Cream

    • Vitamins

    • Anti-Bacterial Gel/Hand Cleanser

    • Gatorade, Emergen-C, or electrolytes




  • “Regular Wear” Outfits: semi-casual clothes for going out, working, and recreations: nicer collared shirts, jeans or pants for men; dresses or skirts and blouses/collared shirts for women if needed. Remember to be aware of cultural clothing guidelines for certain areas.

  • Lightweight Pants: khakis, wind/exercise pants, capris.

  • T-Shirts

  • Pajamas

  • Lightweight Shorts: may serve as swimsuit for men.

  • Bras/Sports Bras

  • Underwear

  • Socks

  • Hiking Socks: warm, non-cotton.

  • Bathing suits: women should bring at least 1 one-piece.

  • Lightweight long-sleeved shirts: at least one should be quick-drying material like polypropylene.

  • Long Underwear Bottoms: synthetic like polypropylene if needed.

  • Lightweight Fleece Jacket or Sweatshirt

  • Heavy Fleece Jacket

  • Lightweight Rain Jacket

  • Sneakers or Lightweight Hiking Shoes/Boots: they should be broken-in and comfortable, but still sturdy enough to hike and work in.

  • Flip-Flops/Slip-Ons

  • Warm Hat

  • Sun Hat

  • Bandanas: can be used as washcloth or headband.

Optional Equipment/Clothing:

  • Bible / Journal

  • Earplugs and a small travel pillow

  • Sandals with Ankle Strap: sturdy and comfortable pair for walking such as Tevas, Chacos, or Crocs.

  • Sarong: can be used as a sleep sheet, beach towel, etc.

  • Camera: extra camera battery and memory card.

  • Thin Cord/String: to hang clothes, etc.

  • Binoculars

  • Books and Art Supplies

  • Small Musical Instrument

  • Travel-Size Games: cards, chess, connect-4, etc.

  • Power/Cliff Bars


3. While En Route and at your Destination:
Tips for Avoiding Jet-Lag
Jet lag is difficulty adjusting to a new time zone. It generally lasts for as many days as time zones crossed. Travelers who cross just one or two zones typically adjust smoothly on their own. Jet lag tends to be milder with westward travel.


  • Stay hydrated, especially during your flight. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages.

  • Consider bringing an eye-mask, earplugs, and blow-up pillow to help you sleep on the plane.

  • Adjust your watch at the beginning of your flight to help you get used to the time change.

  • Get as much exercise as you can in-flight to keep your muscles working and to improve circulation.

  • Beginning on the plane-ride, start eating and sleeping on the schedule of your destination.

  • Consider taking Melatonin, a hormone to regulate the sleep cycle. On the day of departure, take 2-5 mg at the target bedtime of your destination. Continue this routine for 2 or 3 days after arrival.

  • Take on the new schedule as soon as you arrive. Eat and go to sleep at proper times for your destination.

  • Get early morning bright sunlight exposure for the first few days. This will help adjust your biological clock to the new time zone.

  • If you are sleepy during the day, take short naps (20–30 minutes) so you can still sleep at night..

Airplane Tips
  • Travel in loose and comfortable clothing

  • Take frequent walks in-flight to improve circulation in your legs.

  • Keep your feet elevated when possible and avoid crossing your legs (this cuts off circulation).

  • Wear shoes that are loose enough so they will still fit once your feet have swelled during flight. This will also make it simpler to go through security.

  • Keep hydrated and avoid alcohol, caffeine, and salt.

  • Wear glasses instead of contacts, the dry air will dry out your eyes and contacts will become uncomfortable.

  • Chew gum during takeoff and landing to prevent ear pain.

  • Bring a toothbrush and anything else you would use to freshen up during your flight.

  • Pack a change of clothes in your carryon just in case there is any issue with retrieving your luggage.

  • Have something to entertain yourself with such as a game, book, or magazine. Consider bringing your own headphones for in-flight entertainment.

  • Have earplugs handy throughout flight.

  • Keep important documents and valuables with you in your carry-on bag or in a pouch that you can wear in-flight.

  • Begin adjusting to the time zone of the visiting country by sleeping at the appropriate times. Change your watch and bring an eye mask to help with this transition.

  • Bring a travel pillow and blanket.

 Blood Clot Prevention

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot that forms in a deep vein, most often in a calf or thigh. The clot blocks blood flow; if a piece of it breaks off, it can travel to the lung and cause a pulmonary embolus (PE), which is a life-threatening emergency.  The risk of DVT increases during periods of inactivity, such as on long plane flights. Birth control pills, pregnancy, recent surgery, and cancer also increase risk of developing DVT.


When deciding on which method of transportation to use on your international trip, it is important to check for three important criteria: safety, availability, and cost. Not all the places you visit will have multiple options for reaching your next destination, and sometimes the offered options will not all be safe; it is best to do your research ahead of time so you don’t find yourself stuck with no way to your next destination.

Safety tips:

  • Don’t take a taxi or bus by yourself

  • Only take taxis with clear, official markings

  • Take day trains whenever possible; night and overnight trains have more robberies

  • Stay alert throughout transit and keep a constant eye on your belongings

  • Sit in a crowded area of the bus or train, ideally near the driver or operator


Private Cars: to rent or to be driven by a private driver. Check driver’s license rules of visiting country and make sure that you will understand and be able to follow the traffic laws. Book only with reputable companies that will ensure your safety.

  • A U.S. driver’s license is not recognized in many countries. Most countries accept an international driving permit. Obtain your permit through Automobile Association of America (AAA) or the American Automobile Touring Alliance.

  • Many U.S. car insurance policies do not provide full coverage abroad. Consider purchasing the rental car company’s insurance.

  • Be aware that traffic laws vary from country to country.

  • Bring street maps.

  • Bring a child safety seat if you need one.

Motion Sickness

Motion sickness, a common issue for travelers, usually causes mild to moderate discomfort but can be incapacitating. It is more common in women and children ages 2-12 years. Symptoms include abdominal discomfort, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and cold sweats. If you are susceptible to motion sickness, take measures to minimize your symptoms.

Accident Avoidance
  • Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death and injury among travelers. Follow these steps to stay safe:

  • Use safety belts while riding in a car.

  • Use helmets and child safety seats. Bring them with you on your trip.

  • Rent larger and newer vehicles.

  • Ride only in marked taxis (rear seat is safer).

  • Be alert in crossing streets. Look right first in countries that drive on the left.

  • Avoid driving at night, especially in rural areas.

  • Avoid excessive alcohol.

  • Carry your cell phone with you at all times. Know local emergency contact numbers and preset your phone to 911-equivalent number at your destination.

  • Avoid flying in local, unscheduled small aircraft.

Food and Water Rules

Safe Foods:

  • Fruits that have been washed and then peeled (i.e. melon, banana, citrus fruits)

  • Freshly baked bread

  • Fresh, fully cooked hot dishes, served hot

  • Packaged or canned foods

  • Bottled water: choose brand names you know whenever possible and make sure that bottled water arrives sealed and is opened in your presence. The CDC recommends carbonated water such as Perrier over flat water because it’s harder to tamper with and its acidic nature helps to inhibit bacterial growth.

  • Hot drinks made with boiled water


Unsafe Foods:

  • Shellfish and seafood

  • Raw or undercooked beef, pork, sausage, or fish

  • Cold foods, salads, and raw vegetables

  • Buffet dishes and foods left out at room temperature

  • Sauces left out on table

  • Milk and milk products (unless you are positive that they are pasteurized and have been handled properly)

  • Foods stored and reheated after cooking or cooked and served at room temperature

  • Unpeeled fruit, fruit that still has the skin or rind on

  • Ice cubes


 Avoiding Traveler's Diarrhea

  • Carry hand sanitizer at all times and use it liberally. Wash hands with soap before eating.

  • Boiling water for three minutes is the safest disinfectant method.

  • Drink bottled water and juices, and steaming hot coffee and tea. Make sure bottles are unopened and have an intact seal.

  • Use bottled water to brush your teeth.

  • Bring your own water purification system in the event that you do not have access to safe bottled water. If you purchase bottled water, Consider using iodine tablets to disinfect water, unless you are pregnant or have a thyroid condition. Iodine can also be used after water is passed through a portable water filter. Iodine disinfection and filtering are not foolproof, but they can reduce your risk.


How do I treat it?

  • Drink fluids. Bottled juices and water, as well as broths made from boiled water, are excellent choices.

  • Oral rehydration salts (ORS) are readily available around the world. Pedialyte is one brand well-known in the U.S. Dilute ORS with bottled water to rehydrate.

  • You can make your own rehydrating solution by mixing together 1 tsp salt and 8 tsp sugar in 1 qt of clean water.

  • Use loperamide (Imodium AD) if symptomatic relief is needed. Follow label directions. Do not take it if you have a fever or bloody stools.

  • Consider taking with you an antibiotic prescribed by your travel physician if you have no relief from loperamide.

  • Wash your hands frequently to prevent infecting others.

  • If the diarrhea is severe, or is accompanied by fever or rectal bleeding, consult a physician. 

  • Do not assume that your credit card will work abroad. Many underdeveloped countries only deal with cash, not cards or traveler’s checks. For example, in central Africa, the only reliable currency is U.S. $100 bills dated 2006 or later, and only Visa is accepted at the few places that take credit cards


Cell Phones Abroad

Most U.S. phones use CDMA technology, which does not work abroad. GSM technology is used in most of the world, outside the U.S.  You can purchase or rent a GSM phone to use abroad.  Purchasing may be more economical if you travel for several weeks or travel repeatedly.  You will also need to purchase a SIM card to program a GSM phone.

World Phone is a phone that can be used anywhere in the world, depending on cell phone network, frequency, and the phone itself. Check with your cell phone provider to learn if your phone will work at your destination and if you can install a SIM for the country you are visiting. It is usually more economical to purchase or rent a cell phone that can accept a local SIM. They may be purchased on the internet or when you arrive at your destination.

 Power Outlets

The electrical voltage supplied in most of the world is 220 volts, versus 110 volts supplied in the U.S.

  • To protect your electrical devices from damage, purchase a voltage converter to run U.S. appliances in foreign countries. Most cell phones and computers can be used without a converter as they operate on both 110 V and 220 V.

  • Electrical wall outlets also differ from country to country. Purchase an adaptor plug system to use as you travel.

Crime Avoidance

Travelers from the U.S. are often viewed as wealthy and vulnerable, are frequent targets of crime abroad. Keep these tips in mind while traveling in a foreign country:

  • Be observant and stay aware of your surroundings.

  • Avoid traveling alone.

  • Always jog with a partner.

  • Be cautious in large crowds where pickpocket teams operate.

  • Limit traveling at night.

  • Don’t bring valuable or costume jewelry.

  • The latest smartphones, tablets, and computers may attract unwanted attention.

  • Avoid carrying a purse. Put a rubber band around your wallet to make it more difficult to pickpocket. Consider a waist money belt.

  • Use reputable currency exchanges offices. Don’t count your money away from the teller window.

  • Do not show large denomination paper money when making purchases.

  • Be familiar with currency exchange rates to ensure you are given proper change from taxis, restaurants, and hotels.

  • Make copies of your passport, credit card numbers and other important documents. Keep a copy available on your trip and a second copy back at home.

  • Use the hotel safe.

  • Avoid accommodations on the ground floor.

  • Park your car or bicycle in well-lit public places.

  • Have your key in hand when approaching your parked vehicle.

  • Set your cell phone to speed dial the local ‘911’ phone number.

  • Be cautious when accepting invitations from ‘friendly’ locals to parties, social events, or for car rides.

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