Traveling abroad should be an adventure, but getting out of your comfort zone doesn't mean putting yourself in danger. InterExchange and our overseas partners are available to review safety points pertaining to your specific program. Meanwhile, there are a few things we recommend all of our participants do to stay healthy and safe:
Check-ups, Prescriptions, Vaccinations
Our application process requires a medical report and asks that you disclose any concerns that could interrupt you from safely performing your responsibilities abroad. We want to know that you will be in your best shape when you travel so that you can enjoy your experience to the fullest. Start a wellness conversation with your doctor early on: discuss anything that could be a risk factor when you travel. If you have regular prescription medication, either bring enough to cover you while abroad or consult your doctor and/or insurance provider about whether you will be able to refill it abroad. You can find information on recommended and required vaccinations by country at the Center for Disease Control website.
All of our participants are required to travel with international accident and sickness insurance. If you already have coverage at home, it might not cover things like emergency evacuation and repatriation, so ask your provider for a schedule of international coverage before assuming you have what you need. Most participants will need to purchase supplemental travel medical coverage. Please note that travel medical insurance may not cover any pre-existing conditions, so make sure you have a plan in place for addressing any ongoing concerns.
Check-ins and Emergency Plans
Write down and store all contact information for your program operator (including its 24-hour emergency number), program coordinators supporting you in-country, host family members or staff of your program placement, and the name, telephone number and address of where you are staying. Also record numbers for local emergency services.
Establish a communication plan with your parents or contacts at home. Let them know when you've arrived safely at your final destination to save them any anxiety. To be fully present in the local experience, you may want to establish set times to check in with parents and loved ones rather than messaging them as you go.
Please take note of the U.S. Department of State emergency services for overseas citizens.
Documents, Embassies, and STEP
By enrolling in the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs' Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), you can receive important information from the embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, and makes it easier for U.S. Embassies, friends, and family to contact you in the event of an emergency. If you travel frequently, you may want to create an account to save time when you register future trips.
It's also a good idea to travel with copies of important documents, including your passport, visa, insurance information, the address where you are staying, itineraries, and emergency contacts. These documents may not be needed every day, but it's better to have them easily accessible when you do need them.
The Bureau of Consular Affairs provides this traveler's checklist with additional considerations as you prepare to travel.
While you should have some local currency with you for immediate expenses, including right after your arrival, it's never a good idea to carry large amounts of cash with you. Fortunately, ATMs are usually easy to come by, and though traveler's checks are becoming less popular, they are still better than carrying lots of cash. Contact your bank and credit card company before you travel to let them know you'll be traveling abroad. They may have information about using your cards in your destination and can tell you about any partner banks, ATM locations, and even information about known frauds or scams.
Here are a few more considerations for financial safety while traveling:
- Understand the exchange rate where you will be traveling.
- Don't write PIN numbers on ATM cards or pieces of paper carried with the card.
- Don't flash large amounts of cash when paying for something.
- Take note of a phone number you would need to report a card lost or stolen.
Have questions or concerns regarding your safety or the safety of your child abroad? Feel free to call us at 917.305.5401 and we’ll be happy to speak with you.
InterExchange is proud to have an experienced team that is dedicated to international cultural exchange. We come from a variety of backgrounds, but nearly every member of our New York City-based staff has extensive experience traveling, working, or living abroad.