Passports & Visas
Your student should ensure their passport and any required visas are in order prior to travel. Most program providers will have at least basic information regarding entry requirements for U.S. citizen to the country where your student will be traveling. Students will also need to renew their passports prior to traveling if their return date is within six months of their passport's expiration date. Document processing can take a while, so students should start this process as soon as they have decided to go abroad.
Decide with your student the best way for them to access money for everyday needs, as well as emergency situations. Because students will not be in country long, most students refrain from getting an in-country bank account. Typically students use an ATM/Debit card and a credit cards for emergencies. It is important to check with your bank to ask how or if its ATM card will work abroad and what extra fees may apply. In addition, discussing a budget with your student will ensure that their spending stays on track.
It is also important that your student inform their bank and credit card companies when and where they will be traveling. If students neglect to do this, the bank may suspect that the overseas charges are fraudulent and may freeze the account without warning.
Also, students should arrange for payment of any monthly bills they have back at home. Car payments, loan payments and other monthly bills will continue to be due while they are abroad, so they will need to make sure these are being paid.
Once your student has been accepted into their chosen program, it is a good idea for them to look for flights right away - the earlier they book, the better the price will be. Some affiliate providers may offer group flights for their programs. Be sure to check for any flight options offered through the program provider before booking flights.
Students should review the regulations regarding the amount, type and size of luggage that can be carried on their chosen airline. Students should pack lightly and remember that they will able to do laundry abroad.
Keeping in Touch
Have a telephone number where you can reach your student and know the times they are likely to be available. If your student wishes to get an international cell phone while abroad, it is best to research cell phone options in the country where your student will be studying. Some study abroad program providers also offer cell phone options, so be sure to check with them prior to planning. There are also internet phone options such as Skype or Facetime what are worth researching.
Usually, the very first effort to contact a student after they have gone abroad is the the most challenging. Students and parents are hit with the reality that they will be gone for an extended period of time. If you have not made arrangements in advance of when you might first communicate with your student, it can be a nerve-wracking wait. Keep in mind that when a student arrives at their destination, they will be jetlagged, focused on trying to locate their luggage and where they will be staying, and they will most likely have a few days of orientation for their new program. They may also have to wait until they have wifi to be able to message you at first. Before they depart, you should make a plan with your student about when that first call, message or email will occur, so you will both know what to expect.
Additional planning resources can be found in the Preparing to Go section.