With exams over and after a long hard year of studying many students take a well deserved holiday.

To make the most of your time abroad and to have positive experiences that will stay with you for the rest of your life it’s important to plan well ahead of any trip you take. Although the vast majority of student who travel abroad encounter no problems at all, it’s always best to be prepared just in case something does happen. For instance before you go it’s always a good idea to research the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country you’re visiting. Most of the information you need to know can be easily found in travel guidebooks or online resources.

If you be careful and stay out of trouble, the only memories you’ll bring back are good ones.

Important points to ask yourself when deciding on a destination 

  • Where do you really want to go.
  • How much can you afford to spend.

Many students want to travel because

  • It can be a life changing experience.
  • It’s exciting.
  • They want to experience new cultures and societies.
  • They want to visit new countries.

Before you travel it’s important to find out

  • What dress code is culturally suitable in the country you are traveling to.
  • What are the local laws regarding socialising and drinking etc. (In some cultures, boisterous public antics are lauded and applauded, and in others they’ll get you arrested). As in your own country disturbing the peace, loutish behaviour, littering, driving under the influence, drinking on the street or on public transportation may all be considered criminal activities by local authorities.
  • What social gestures are acceptable there and what are not.
  • What language they speak.
  • Local traditions and practices.
  • The tipping procedure in a foreign country.
  • Find out where the best and cheapest hotels are.
  • If your staying in a city, which areas to avoid.
  • If you need to have any vaccinations.
  • If any travel warnings have been issued by the government (especially if you are visiting remote or unstable countries).
  • The contact details of your own countries embassy in the country you are visiting. If something does happen they can be a great source of assistance and information.

Vaccinations and immunisation
Find out if you need to take any vaccinations before you head out. Remember that you can be exposed to possible diseases, tainted food and drink (leading to food poisoning) and other health risks.

Money matters

  • Confirm with your bank that you will be able to use your cash card in ATMs in the country you are travelling to.
  • Find out what the exchange rate is for the local currency.
  • Carry some small change for tips and convenience.
  • Never carry all of your money around together. For instance keep one credit card with you and leave the other one in the hotel safe or hidden in your luggage, that way if your main card gets lost or stolen you can cancel it and still have a back up.

Catching a taxi

  • When taking taxis, always ask for an estimate before you get into the cab, as many countries don’t require meters on their cabs.
  • Try to only use licensed or regulated taxis.

Travel safety
Remember that much of staying safe abroad is simple common sense, Below are some tips on how to stay safe when traveling abroad.

Before you embark on your journey always tell a someone close to you (like a family member or close friend) where you are going. This is important for two reasons, firstly so that you can be reached in the event of a family emergency, and secondly if in the unfortunate event that something bad does happen then your loved ones will know where to start looking for you.

Remember that each country has its own unique laws regarding drink, drugs. If you break them you could be arrested.
Avoid bringing strangers back to your place of residence.

Make sure you understand local laws, religious customs and cultural customs.

Avoid anything to do with drugs.

Other things to watch out for:

Pick pocketing
Tourists are targeted by highly organised criminal gangs, therefore keep your purse or wallet close to where you are.

Those with thin straps are not recommended (they can be easily broken). Keep purses over the shoulders diagonally so that the purse stays with the body and cannot be easily removed by a bump of the shoulder.

Do not keep these in your back pocket, instead have them in your front pocket.

Personal information
Avoid giving this out unnecessarily to anyone you do not know or trust.

Money exchange

  • Never exchange currency with people you have just met in the street, instead go to authorised vendors or banks.
  • When withdrawing money from ATMs try to do so in small amounts.

Tips for female students traveling abroad 

  • In some countries women are advised to walk around in groups, particularly at night.
  • Avoid taking shortcuts and routes that are off the beaten path, especially late at night.
  • If you need to ask for direction try to ask other women, families or youngsters.

Travel essentials

  • Check with your mobile phone company to see if your mobile phone works abroad.
  • Take out travel insurance
  • Make sure you a have a visa (if it is required).
  • Plan to get the local currency ASAP, for instance when you land at the airport.

Things to take

  • Your passport.
  • Enough money.
  • Any medication you have to take.
  • If you are short sighted take along an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses.
  • If you are going to underdeveloped countries its worth taking a simple first aid kit with bandages, antibiotic cream and pain relievers.

Driving licence
If you are planning on hiring a car then remember to take your driving licence with you.

Things to do before you travel

  • Take out travel insurance.
  • Give your parents the phone and fax number of your hotel, the cell phone numbers of the chaperones and a full itinerary of your trip.
  • Take copies of your important personal documents like passport and driving license etc and leave these copies with your family or a close friend. This is just in case you lose the originals whilst abroad, in which case the copies can be faxed or scanned and emailed over to you quickly. Another insurance policy against losing all your details if you’re robbed or lose your baggage is to email yourself with important emergency information.

Your hotel
Take a card from the counter with the hotel’s name, address and phone number on it. Keep this card on you at all times.

Taking photographs
In some countries it’s advisable to ask permission before taking photographs of, churches, mosques, temples, synagogues and other religious sites. Also, ask permission before taking photographs of government buildings and military installations.

Things not to do

  • Avoid getting involved in demonstrations or political activities.
  • Do not carry around weapons like knives etc for protection.
  • Do not wear expensive watches or jewellery as this can attract criminals and make you a target for thieves.


Related links
Backpackers travel insurance
Gap year travel insurance
Study abroad insurance
Student travel insurance
University courses

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