Prepare for your Helluva Journey

By now, you have most likely been accepted into the study abroad program of your choice and will be traveling to your host country in a few short months.

However, there are still several things to think about to prior to your departure. Mines Education Abroad recommends reviewing the checklist below to ensure that you are properly prepared for your journey.

Important Travel Documents

  • Check to see that your passport is valid for at least six months after the end of your program.  – If not, renew your passport here. Note: You should apply for/renew your passport as early as possible because the process can take awhile.  Making sure you have proof of citizenship and photos of a specific size can help speed up the process.
  • Apply for and obtain all required visas and travel documentation – Again, apply for your visa as early as possible to account for delays. Study abroad participants are responsible for obtaining a valid passport and a visa for the country involved (if needed). Many short-term stays (3 months or less) do not require a visa for U.S. citizens, but you should check with the country consulate for details on visas and how to apply.
  • Make copies of your passport and visa for your close relatives as well as our office. – Having an extra copy of your passport will help if there is some kind of emergency. Also keep a copy of your passport in the bottom of your luggage.

Public Health and Safety Concerns

Personal Health Needs

  • All students traveling for study abroad are required to purchase CISI insurance. In addition, some countries require you to purchase health insurance specific to that country. You cannot use personal insurance, or in-country insurance, to waive the CISI insurance requirement. However, you may be able to waive SHIP health insurance for the semester you are abroad. More information can be found in your study abroad application.
  • Get a check up before you leave and arrange to get necessary vaccinations if applicable.
  • Fill any prescriptions you will need abroad and bring an extra month’s supply. Be sure to keep these prescriptions in their original packaging.
  • Bring copies of essential medical records (prescriptions, allergies, vaccinations, etc.)
  • Consider both your mental and physical health needs, and research what services will be available in your host country. Discuss with your mental health professional if remote counseling services can be made available while you’re abroad.


  • Book your Plane Tickets – When booking your tickets, be sure to ask the following questions and get the answers in writing:
    • How much will it cost to change the return ticket?
    • Who do I call to change the ticket? The travel agent or the airlines
    • In case of an emergency what are my options for getting a ticket back to the US?
    • Visit Student Travel (STA), Student Universe , or SkyScanner for good deals on plane tickets
  • Book additional ground transportation from the airport to where you will be living (if necessary).


  • Inform your banks of the dates and locations that you will be traveling and request authorization to use your debit/credit cards in those locations during those dates.
  • Make a copy of your credit card and write a letter which you will give to your close relatives in the event of an emergency – The letter should be addressed to the credit card company, giving your parents or someone you trust authorization to cancel your credit card. This is good insurance in case your credit card is lost or stolen.
  • Consider bringing a bit of your host country’s local currency to get you started when you first arrive. We recommend using Travelex
  • Make arrangements for filing your taxes if you will be abroad during tax season or register for an automatic extension. More information about this process can be found on the IRS website.


  • Apply for an absentee ballot – If elections are scheduled while you are away, you can still vote in your locality by absentee ballot. Check with your local election officials for details on how to do this.

Identity and Diversity

Mines Education Abroad is committed to providing support to students from all backgrounds. Do not hesitate to contact one of our professional staff or peer advisors if you have concerns about how someone from your particular background will be received abroad or about any difficulties you may encounter during your experience. We can also connect you with study abroad alumni who share similar backgrounds and can provide their advice.

Below are some recommended resources that may be valuable to students from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives.

Host Country Culture, Language and travel

  • If applicable, brush up on your language skills.
  • Research the current events, customs, politics, history, etc. of your host country.
  • Consider studying a bit of US history and current events, including historic and current relationships between the US and your host country.
  • For travel inspiration, advice, and stories, check out these recommended sites:
    • Diversity Abroad: Destination Guides – These helpful guides provide insight into several aspects of many well-traveled countries. The rest of the site is also good for finding travel inspiration and tips. 
    • Diversity Abroad: Building Relationships in Your Host CommunityThe best way to immerse yourself in a new culture is by building relationships. Review some helpful tips on how to do this before you arrive.
    • Let’s Go books – Information about costs and distances between cites, interesting places to visit, and how to do it on a budget.
    • Lonely Planet Guides – These guides come highly recommended and offer much information on budget traveling. Lonely Planet offers some useful information on various areas of the world as well.
    • Go Abroad – This site provides the most comprehensive international education and alternative travel databases. Including extensive additional information within its dynamically constructed travel guides, currency converter, and embassy directories.
    • Hostel World – This site provides on-line confirmed bookings for hostels, budget accommodation centers and package tours, as well as comprehensive content such as city and country guides.

Carry-On Checklist: Essential Items

Just in case your larger luggage is lost or stolen, it is good practice to pack essential items in your carry-on bag. These items can include:

  • Two days worth of clothes/personal items
  • Passport, Visa, Plane Ticket
  • Local currrency/cash
  • ATM or credit/debit cards
  • Health Insurance Card
  • Student ID or other photo ID
  • Copies of important travel documents (passport, visa, etc.)
  • Contact information (phone numbers, emails, physical addresses, emergency contact info)
  • Medical Information/documents (allergies, prescriptions, vaccinations, etc.)
  • Electronics (phone, computer, tablet, camera, etc.) and their chargers. Consider bringing charger converters that match your host country’s outlets
  • Prescriptions in their original packaging (and, if applicable, extra contacts/eyeglasses)
  • Empty reusable water bottle

Other Advice

  • Carefully check your airline’s baggage restrictions and requirements (including luggage size and weight). This can save you time and money at the airport.
  • Don’t pack more than you can carry on your own. By minimizing what you bring with you, you can more easily maneuver in airports, trains, etc.
  • Leave some extra space in your luggage for souvenirs (or bring items that you won’t mind donating/leaving behind when you return home)
  • Consider your host country’s climate/weather and cultural norms when choosing what clothing to bring.
  • Bring a journal to record your experience
  • Bring something that reminds you of home
  • If you will be living in a home-stay, bring a small gift for your hosts.
  • Don’t pack sheets, linens, or towels if you know they will be easy to find in your host country.


“I brushed up on my Spanish and did extensive research on everything in Chilean culture, weather, you name it. Although this process was helpful, obsessive research gave me the feeling that I was in control and knew exactly what I was getting into. It only took a few days to shatter that feeling. I wish I had relaxed a bit so I could have been more adaptable in my first few weeks abroad.”

– Katherine Knudtsen | Chemical Engineering | Pontificia Universidad Católica Chile | Fall 2019

“While planning for my experience abroad, I created an excel spreadsheet laying out my course plan for graduation, including all prereqs, core courses, electives, and HASS. This allowed me to more easily see possibilities and try different arrangements of courses so that I could fit in a semester abroad.”

– Sammie Inks | Chemical Engineering | University of Aberdeen | Fall 2018

“Pack less! You will definitely need less than you think you will. If you do need something, your host country will most likely have it.”

– April Lyndon | Mechanical Engineering | Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Nanyang Technological University | Fall 2018 – Spring 2019

” I MAJORLY over-packed. When you pack, keep in mind that you’re going to gain even more stuff while you’re abroad. If you realize you don’t have something you need, you’ll probably be able to find it there, and then you’ll have it as a souvenir from your trip!

– Sammie Inks | Chemical Engineering | University of Aberdeen | Fall 2018

“I decided to join a social media group for international students after being accepted into my university. Before I even set foot in New Zealand, I had already connected with several students online, was given recommendations on the best classes to take, and enrolled in a cultural immersion experience, which turned out to be one of the highlights of my entire semester! If your university offers a program like this, I highly recommend engaging with your host community or other international students online before your arrival.”

– Jocelyn Johnson | Civil Engineering | University of Auckland | Fall 2019

“Start a blog or journal. Recording my experiences in a blog was part of my McBride practicum, but I think this is a good way for any student to keep track of all your amazing adventures. It also helped me reflect on how I was spending my time so I could make the most of my semester.”

– Jocelyn Johnson | Civil Engineering | University of Auckland | Fall 2019

“One of the best decisions I made was to fly out to my host city a few days early, stay in an Airbnb, and explore by myself before orientation. It gave me the opportunity to make a few memories, find my way around, and have some independence before moving in and meeting the people who would become my best friends and adventure buddies!”

– Sammie Inks | Chemical Engineering | University of Aberdeen | Fall 2018


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Green Center, Suite 219
924 16th Street
Colorado School of Mines
Golden, CO 80401 

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