For most programs you are responsible for making your own flight arrangements. Quotes from several agencies will allow you to comparison shop for the best price. Always check these agencies prices with the actual airline sites. Be sure to ask for information regarding restrictions and the price for changing the flight time and/or date should this be necessary. This is particularly important if you are buying your ticket over the web. Begin work on this early. Sites which have provided discounts for student travel include:
IMPORTANT: Make a copy of your itinerary for your family or friends, and carry a copy with you separate from your boarding passes.
U.S. Customs Information
Upon returning home, you will have to go through U.S. Customs. In most cases, returning residents and citizens are allowed up to $800 worth of foreign purchases, however, allowable amounts vary. There are limits on the amount of alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products you may include in your duty-free (tax) personal exemption. Duties (taxes) typically range from 3% to 35% or more dependent on what it is and the country it is from. Certain items will not be charged duty depending upon the country of purchase and type of item. IMPORTANT: Make sure to keep all receipts for purchases you mail home or bring with you, as you will need them when you go through customs upon your return. If you are taking a foreign made item with you, U.S. Customs officials suggest you register it at the airport before you leave the country. Failure to do so may result in having to pay duty on it upon your return.
In some countries, especially those belonging to the EU, you may get the taxes back on certain purchases. Bringing back fruits, vegetables, or plants of any type to the U.S. can be complicated and dangerous and is not suggested. For more information, visit the website at:
Tips from The State Department
The U.S. Department of State website for study abroad participants is an excellent resource www.studentsabroad.state.gov/. Learn as much as possible about the country in which you will be studying. Included in this orientation packet are various links to this important information to that particular country. A Consular Information Sheet is available for every country in the world and provides an overview of conditions pertaining to travel in each country. You can find the State Department website at:
The Department of State gathers Background Notes on countries worldwide. These are brief, factual pamphlets with information on each country’s culture, history, geography, economy, government and current political situation. Background notes are available for approximately 170 countries. They often include a reading list, travel notes and maps. Information on your host country is included in the orientation packet. To view information on other countries to which you will be going, you can visit the State Department website and click on the area of the world in which your country is located.
It is important that students learn about the local laws abroad and obey them. Remember, while in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws. Every year, the State Department puts out a press release for college newspapers reminding students about drug laws and drunk and disorderly conduct during spring and summer breaks. This release can be found at:
Check with your airline to determine how many pieces of luggage you will be allowed to carry on and to check. Pack light. Remember that you will have to carry your luggage through airports and on public transportation.
Securing Valuables During Travel
Do not carry everything in one place. Do not carry your traveler’s checks with your list of traveler’s check numbers, your ticket with the photocopy of your ticket.
- Always put medications and anything else you must have in your carry-on luggage. This might also include toothbrush and toothpaste, a clean shirt/blouse and several pairs of underwear. If your luggage goes somewhere without you, you will have at least a few essentials with you to make you comfortable while you wait for it to return.
- Know your liquid rules: 3-1-1 means you can carry-on three-ounce or less containers of liquid in one quart-size plastic bag and are allowed one bag per traveler. Information about carry-on restrictions can be found at: www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/3-1-1-liquids-rule
- Never carry large amounts of cash. Carry a small amount of cash in your pocket to buy snacks, a newspaper, etc., and the remainder of your cash in your money belt or neck wallet. The less often you have to go into your money belt or neck wallet the less you will be displaying your documents, money, traveler’s checks, credit card, etc. Some travelers recommend going into the restroom or some other private place when accessing your money belt or neck belt.
- Always check your luggage tags to ensure you have the correct luggage. Put a copy of your itinerary and the address of your destination in each piece of luggage. Be sure your luggage is tagged with your name and address. Mark your luggage so it is easily distinguished as it goes through the conveyor belt (a piece of colored tape on the side, a ribbon on the handle, a sticker from another trip).
- Check the tags as you pick up your luggage, and always count your bags as you move through the various transfer points. Many people have similar, if not identical, luggage and it is very easy to pick up the wrong piece; always check the tags each time you move.
As you know, each of us has peak periods during the day and times when we are a little less than peak. This cycle is called the circadian rhythm, and the disruption of this rhythm results in jet lag. Some of the changes experienced from jet lag are that you feel energetic at 4 p.m. rather than at 8 a.m., you need to use the bathroom more in the middle of the night and you are hungry at times other than the usual breakfast, lunch and dinner hours. Of course, not everyone has the same experience with jet lag, and length of recovery differs from one to several days. There are many different suggestions for dealing with jet lag but here are a few things to remember.
- Be patient with yourself. After traveling for long periods of time, it is not uncommon to feel exhausted, easily confused, frustrated, etc.
- Prior to leaving, try to have an idea where you will spend the first night and how to get there. Write this information down. Knowing that you have a place to rest and how to get there will lessen the stress. There are many different recommendations for eating before and during a flight. Do a little research and decide what is best for you. (There is no such thing as a magic pill; no matter what you try, you will still have some adjusting to do).
There are a few things all plans agree on:
- Avoid alcohol, sleeping pills and tranquilizers before and during the flight as they only increase fatigue without making you sleep better.
- Avoid smoking; the combination of carbon monoxide in your blood and altitude also increases feelings of fatigue.
- Drink plenty of water.
Begin to operate on local time. If you arrive in the morning, go to your accommodation, and then do a little exploring. You might want to take a nap mid-afternoon. Make sure you wake up after an hour or two or you will probably sleep quite a while before waking up at midnight ready to begin a new day. Exercise helps the body adjust and relieves some the stress of travel and adaptation on a new place. A good way to exercise is to get out and walk around the area where you will be staying. You became familiar with the area and provide your body with a non-stressful workout.