Travel Tips

General Tips

Pack lightly.  You will have to carry whatever you pack…up stairs, or mountain sides…you never know.  When packing, lay out everything you want to take, and then only pack half that amount. Planes, trains, and buses will help, but you will be walking a lot of the time. Carrying your luggage will be difficult if you pack too much.

Make sure you have at least one complete change of clothing in your carry-on luggage, and a complete set of toiletries, in case your stowed luggage does not make the trip.

Do not fill your bag with sweaters and jackets. Layering is essential. Pick one lightweight jacket and sweater. Bring only clothes that are machine washable (or sink-washable). Select dark clothes.  Dark clothes will lessen your need to do wash (sounds dirty but you will learn). Avoid clothing that identifies you as American, i.e., American flags, Old Navy/Gap, American Eagle, U.S. Sports Teams etc. (You may have national pride, but it is good to blend in).

Pack one nice outfit :

  • Females-comfortable slacks or dress/skirt
  • Males-button down shirt and slacks
  • For visits to cathedrals or churches, it is crucial to honor the traditions of the country and not appear to be unsophisticated.

Pack plenty of socks, underwear and t-shirts (and other unmentionables). Check the weather for guidance on clothes selection.  Or you can consult with a travel agent or guidebook to check the temperature and weather conditions for your destination and time of year. 

Passport (and visa if required).  Make three copies of your picture/data sheet. Leave one with your family in the U.S., give one to the group leader, and pack the last in another part of your luggage. Your actual passport must be carried on your person at all times. Travel stores sell various neck-strap wallets, or travel belts to use. Do not carry items in a back or breast pocket. Pick-pockets are quite savvy and a reality when traveling.

Airline tickets and photo I.D. and Insurance information, (Same three-copy rule as with the passports.) Save coasters, postcards, tickets stubs etc.

Cash, credit cards, ATM card, money belt or neck wallet (invaluable for carrying money and important documents). It is suggested you contact your bank and credit card company to let them know you are out of the country.

NO FANNYPACKS!   They are easily removed and mark you as an American tourist.  

Remember the air travel requirements of 3-ounce containers in a single one-quart zip-close bag are all that you can carry on. However, you can stow a larger size in a larger piece of luggage.  In most countries, you will be able to purchase extra toiletries while abroad.

Items to bring:
  • Eye glasses, sunglasses, contact lenses and cleaning solution. 
  • Prescriptions
  • Sunscreen and moisturizers
  • Tissue packets (not every bathroom has toilet paper, or the quality we are used to)
  • Sanitary napkins/tampons
  • Phone card (available but more expensive abroad)
  • Address book
  • Adapter and voltage converter  (Europeans use a different electric currency than we do. Your electrical appliances will not work. It is not recommended to bring electrical appliances, but if you must, also bring a converter.)
  • Alarm clock (battery operated)
  • Batteries
  • Camera and film
  • Day pack
  • Flashlight
  • Guide books (Let's Go, Lonely Planet, Fodor's) and maps
  • Luggage
  • Lock and tags (label absolutely everything with a permanent marker)
  • Baby wipes, anti-bacterial hand lotion
  • Pocket calculator (to translate local prices into dollars)
  • Sewing kit
  • Walking shoes (good, sturdy, comfortable, worn-in)
  • Rain jacket and/or umbrella
  • Zip-close bags (great for keeping things dry, like money belt etc.)

When are you expected to call and check in with family and/or friends?  Phone cards are available for about 50 cents a minute.  E-mail is available in Internet cafés for about $1.50 a half-hour.

Remember to take a supply of prescription medicines in original bottles in your carry-on luggage. Work with the pharmacist to get smaller bottles with the dosage printed on them. Pharmacists are familiar with the new travel requirements, too. This includes birth control/contraceptives.
Prescription medicines and written prescription. Keep written prescriptions in your stowed luggage.
First aid kit (including: motion sickness medications, laxatives, anti-diarrhea medicine, antacids, pain relievers, decongestants, antiseptics, and bandages). Inoculations or immunizations are not necessary in EU member nations, but you may prefer to have a flu shot and MMR before departure.

Take advantage of new things.
Don't hang out only with Americans; visit with host nation citizens when possible. 
Count your change after you buy things.
Take advantage of cultural events.
Always play it safe and follow your instincts.

The Access/Equity/Diversity Office provides access to a database, "CultureGrams" which offers reports on countries and territories. Each report includes 25 categories such as land and climate, history, personal appearance, greetings, gestures, family, diet, holidays, economy, education, health, and events and trends.