Attending college is primarily about gaining higher education in order to prepare for a long and successful career in your chosen field. However, college also presents a variety of other opportunities for young adults. It is one of the few times in your adult life that you’ll have the freedom to travel extensively. Unencumbered by the hallmarks of adulthood (job, mortgage payments, spouse, and family, for example), you can take this opportunity to explore other countries and have the adventure of a lifetime. In some cases, you can even continue earning college credit while you spend time overseas. With a few tips to get you started, international travel can be fun and hassle-free.
- Plan ahead. Preparation is a must if you have any interest in traveling during your time in college. For starters, you’re going to need some items that could take time to get, so it’s best to start planning well in advance of any intended travel. You’re going to need a passport, which could take several weeks to obtain, as well as appropriate immunizations for the area you’re traveling to. If you intend to drive yourself around during your visit, you might also need to acquire an international driver’s license. In addition, you should contact your insurance providers (health and auto) to make sure your coverage extends to overseas travel. If not, you may need temporary additions to your existing policies to ensure that you aren’t left paying out of pocket should accident or injury occur.
- Try traveler’s checks. Tourists can easily become targets for thieves, which is why most travelers protect themselves by leaving valuables in hotel safes when they go out or placing cash and credit cards in a money belt so as not to provide easy access to pickpockets. That said, the best option is probably to use traveler’s checks. They act like cash but have the same protections as credit cards, and you can usually get them from your bank or your credit card company, as well as organizations like AAA. If they are stolen or lost, you just have to call your provider to have them replaced. As a side note, you should call your credit card companies to let them know your travel plans so your card doesn’t get flagged for fraud and denied while you’re overseas.
- Inform someone. It’s important that someone you trust has a copy of your itinerary while you’re traveling. Think about giving it to your parents, a friend, or a roommate. Then make plans to check in periodically, especially if you’re going to be gone for a while. This way if anything happens, someone will know that something is wrong.
- Consider study abroad opportunities. One of the best and safest ways to visit other countries is through study abroad programs. You’ll continue taking classes and earning credit toward your degree, often for the same price you’re currently paying for tuition. In addition, the program will either place you in dorms with other students or with a host family that can help you to learn the lay of the land, so to speak, and enjoy fun and safe travel.
- Travel with friends. Before you start scouting London, Paris, and Hamburg hotels, think about whether or not you want to go it alone or travel with friends. The former provides more freedom, to be sure, but traveling in numbers can decrease costs and increase your safety, along with your overall enjoyment of the trip.