Pre-Departure Orientation Travel Preparation
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Travel Preparation for an abroad experience includes arranging your transportation and making sure that your travel documents are in order. Once flights are booked, you must register your travel in MyTrips.
You are required to have a valid passport for all travel abroad. If you are a U.S. citizen, you can begin the process to obtain or renew your passport on the State Department’s Passport website. While most countries require the validity of a passport to extend at least six months past your intended return date, some countries require a longer amount of time. Consult your host location’s embassy or consulate for requirements. International students should also meet with International Student and Scholar Services to make sure that they are maintaining their F-1 student status while abroad and have valid documents to return to the US.
For most programs, especially for long-term study abroad or internships, a visa must be obtained that will permit you to study, work, or intern abroad. Check your host location’s consulate or embassy for the most up-to-date information on visa requirements. Penn Abroad will support you with general visa advice, however, it is your responsibility to obtain your visa. Make sure you understand what documents are needed to obtain your visa, and apply accordingly. Seek guidance from your host location’s consulate or embassy or from Penn’s contracted supplier, CIBT Visas. If a letter from Penn is needed as part of your visa materials, contact your Global Programs Manager.
Keep a copy of your passport and visa with your important travel documents, and leave a second copy of your travel documents with a trusted family member or friend in case they need to be accessed in an emergency or if you lose your passport while abroad.
Remember that it is your responsibility to make sure you have a valid passport and visa (if applicable). Failure to apply for a passport or visa in a timely manner may result in you not obtaining your required travel documents in time for your abroad experience.
With the exception of the semester International Honors Program (IHP) and Penn Global Seminars (PGS) programs (which include mandatory group flights), you are responsible for booking your flight abroad. A cost estimate is included in your program’s budget sheet on PASSPORT.
You should only book your flight once you are an official program participant. Many students are unsure of their program end date when they book their flight abroad. Contact the airline to find out if it is more cost-effective to book two one-way tickets or a roundtrip ticket with the option to change your return flight. It is usually more cost-effective to book a roundtrip ticket and then pay a ticket change fee for your return flight if you are abroad shorter or longer than you originally anticipated. Roundtrip flights may also be required by your host country in order to obtain a visa. As this varies by airline, however, please consult appropriately.
Many websites exist for booking flights. If your arrival and departure dates are flexible, you may be able to find a more economical flight using the “my dates are flexible” option when searching.
Students participating in a semester abroad or Penn Global Seminar will receive an email notification that they have been added as a traveler to MyTrips prior to the start of their abroad program. Students need to login to MyTrips to enter their flight and personal details. Semester abroad and PGS students should not create their own trips in MyTrips.
Students participating in the Global Research & Internship Program are required to register in MyTrips themselves.
By entering your flight information and personal details into MyTrips:
Your ISOS international medical insurance will be activated
You must enter your flight details to have international medical coverage while participating in your abroad program.
Penn will know your whereabouts in case of an emergency so that we can provide relevant and timely information.
Side-trips should also be entered into MyTrips so that Penn can contact you if needed outside of your primary host country abroad.
You will receive country-specific information about your overseas location.
In addition to registering your travel in MyTrips, Penn also recommends that all U.S. citizens register their travel online with the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). Registration makes your presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary for a consular official to contact you in an emergency. Non-U.S. citizens should contact their local embassy to see if similar enrollment programs exist.