Unless otherwise specifically stated, students are responsible for making their own travel arrangements to and from their program site. Be sure to ask about low-cost student rates when talking with travel agents. Thorough research is the key to getting the best bargains, and the Internet is another good source of information.
It is often best to try student travel agencies, as they often are most familiar with student rates. The International Student Travel Confederation's website is www.istc.org. They offer advice on student travel and provide contact information for major student travel agencies across the country. Additionally, try www.statravel.com.
Consider arrival instructions carefully to ensure that students have a smooth arrival and do not miss the beginning of the program. Please note that the arrival at a program usually involves getting settled into housing or meeting other students, as well as student orientation.
It is very important for all students to make every effort to arrive on the date and time indicated by the program. If a student arrives before the arrival date, he or she might be completely responsible for his or her own arrival transportation, lodging, and any other expenses incurred during that time. Arriving later than the arrival date will most likely result in the student missing part of the orientation. Moreover, the tight scheduling of activities during this time does not usually allow for make-up sessions.
When estimating budgets, two detailed categories should be considered: Pre-departure and After Arrival.
Pre-Departure costs may include the following: passport fees, direct consular fees for visa, airfare, local transportation, independent travel expenses (Eurail passes, etc.) luggage or backpack, and appropriate clothing, if necessary.
Upon arrival, a student usually spends more money the first few weeks while becoming acquainted with new surroundings. A student's spending habits and lifestyle should be taken into account when estimating spending budgets. Students should consider the following expenses when estimating their budgets while abroad: weekend travel, local transportation, daily meals and dining out, entertainment, museum fees, laundry, postage, telephone costs, and personal items.
Banking and access to money differ by country and site. Depending on the country and amount of time abroad, students can open bank accounts in their host country or many access their U.S. bank accounts via ATM cards.
If accessing a U.S. bank account through an ATM card, we recommend the following:
- Students should be sure to contact their bank about special procedures such as an international PIN number.
- A family member should have access to the account from the U.S. in case of access problems.
- ATM cards should be tied to checking (NOT savings) accounts.
- Students should bring a duplicate card along with them in case the card gets taken in a teller machine, as can happen anywhere.
NOTE: ATM machines overseas charge higher usage fees than domestic providers.
Credit cards, American Express cards, and traveler's checks are other ways of obtaining money while abroad, albeit with a fee.
American students tend to bring much more luggage than they will need. A simple rule of thumb is that the student should be able to carry all of his or her belongings (including cameras, purses, etc.) one block and up a flight of stairs. Closet and storage space abroad is usually significantly less than it is in the U.S.