Going Abroad this Spring Break

With Spring Break just around the corner, you might be planning a trip to a fabulous, exotic location–maybe someplace you’ve never been before. Maybe you have friends who are currently studying abroad and you’ve decided to visit. Going abroad, even just for a short time, is a great way to check out another country’s cultures and customs. Plus you can try new foods, meet new people and get exposed to an alternative way of life!

Whether you’re going someplace cool and breezy or hot and sunny, check out our tips on how to stay safe if you plan on packing your passport this break:

Know the right numbers. No matter where you’re going during break, make sure you know the correct numbers for emergency services (like 911), taxi cabs and nighttime transportation and of course, the United States Consulate in the country you’re visiting. Research all of these services before your trip and keep them with you at all times–in a cell phone, planner or just a small note in your purse! You’ll be thankful to have important phone numbers with you in case of an emergency and it will guarantee you some peace of mind while traveling.

Exchange your money early. Before you go abroad, you can usually go to a local bank or credit union in America that will exchange your cash for the currency that’s used in the country where you’ll be spending time. Make sure you don’t go overboard–if you take out too much money beforehand, you’ll be walking around with lots of cash and that may not be safe. Also, avoid airports and hotels while exchanging money–both are notorious for having some of the worst exchange rates, mostly because they’re convenient.

Keep an eye on your travel necessities. When you’re abroad, there are lots of documents and items that need looking after for safekeeping. Your passport is your number one priority while abroad. American passports are hot items on the black market abroad, so make sure your bag is able to accommodate your wallet, phone, hotel or hostel keys and most importantly, your passport. Keep your passport close to you at all times! In case of a passport theft, be sure to contact your U.S. Consulate immediately for further action. Also keep an eye on plane tickets, cameras, laptops and any other valuable items you may take with you on your trip. Check out GradGuard’s travel insurance for more info on protecting what belongs to you on a trip outside the U.S.

Expect the unexpected–always. It’s never a bad idea to pack up things you may need “just in case.” Bring clothing for rainy, cold or windy weather if you’re going someplace hot–you never know how quickly forecasts may change. If you’re heading someplace on the cool side, still make sure to bring sunscreen and some items of warmer clothing. This helps with packing and staying prepared!

Research, research, research! Before you jump on the plane, get to know your destination! Learn about the language, customs and culture before you arrive. Depending on the destination, the idea of what and what is not “polite” in public varies from country to country. Also, research basic customs such as what stays open and closed on certain days and whether on not any holidays are coming up in the place you’re visiting. You’ll be happy to know these things when you arrive and you’ll feel like a more savvy traveler!

Remember these tips and you’ll be ready to go! Have a fantastic and safe spring break!

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