Global Health Center

Planning Tips for Successful Academic Travel

Check your passport and get a visa

Passport basics 

  • It can take several months to get a passport; apply now if you don't have one
  • Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months after you return from travel

Passport Security 

In some countries you must carry your passport at all times

  • Take your passport if you are taking a short trip from your base city
  • In many countries, hotels are required to photocopy or hold guests' passports overnight
  • It's common, but find out in advance if this is true for your destination

Report a lost or stolen passport immediately to your nearest embassy

Determine if you'll need a visa 

Try CIBT, the U.S. State Department, or your home country's embassy

Then ask these questions:

  • What type of visa do I need (tourist, student)?
  • How long will it take for my visa to arrive?
  • Will I need a transit visa (for a layover or travel through another country on the way to my destination)?

International students and visas 

Non-U.S. citizens returning to the U.S. after travel can run into complications, so begin the visa process early

Take photocopies of important documents 

Make copies of the following documents 

  • Passport identification page and visa
  • Driver's license
  • Insurance cards
  • Credit cards (front and back)
  • Flight and other travel itineraries
  • Immunizations and prescriptions
  • Significant medical history (e.g., surgeries, major illnesses)
  • The letter of admission to your university abroad or your study abroad program


  • Leave a copy of each at home with family or a friend
  • Keep a copy in your luggage (separate from any originals)
  • Scan and email copies to yourself or store photos of them on your smart phone

Know the guidelines for conducting research

Office of Research Administration Conducting Research Internationally 

Responsible Conduct of Research standards apply abroad

  • academic integrity
  • conflict of interest
  • human subjects and animal research
  • data acquisition and management

Your host country might have its own regulations. Find out if there are local laws and comply with them


Look into cell phones and communicating

Phone cards 

Try an international calling cards

Cell phones 

Ways to get a cell phone for your travel:

  • Ask your current cell phone service provider to unlock your U.S. cell phone
  • Buy an international cell phone before you leave
  • Buy a phone when you reach your destination then purchase a SIM card that can be recharged on a pay-as-you-go basis

Check in 

Set a schedule for weekly check-ins with a family member at home so someone knows you're safe

Receiving calls from home 

Making international calls from your cell phone can be expensive, but incoming calls may be free

Collect calls 

Learn how to make collect calls from your destination

Emergency cell phone use 

If you are using your cell phone during an emergency that could last hours or even days, try texting instead of calling to save battery life on your phone


Consider personal property insurance

Protect your property 

Consider personal property insurance for electronics or other expensive personal items

  • See if your belongings are covered abroad by your parent/guardian's homeowner's policy
  • See if your belongings are covered abroad by your parent/guardian's homeowner's policy

Know about country-specific restrictions

U.S. country sanctions 

Restrictions on trade, investments, travel, exchange of information or materials, and other kinds of activity with sanctioned countries (currently Cuba, Iran, Syria, Myanmar/Burma, Sudan, and North Korea)

Anti-boycotting laws 

Laws that discourage or prohibit participation in boycotts imposed by other countries directed at Israel

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