A Guide To Traveling Abroad for College Students

Traveling when you’re young gives you a chance to expand your worldview by experiencing different cultures. Although you should ideally travel at any age, the younger you are, the less likely you are to have long-standing responsibilities like families, careers, or other obligations that could prevent you from traveling for long periods. 

Traveling abroad has numerous potential benefits, many of which are bolstered by youth. Traveling abroad could also lead to new opportunities in career or education, and can be the source of life-long relationships.

Traveling abroad also requires a lot of thought and planning. You’ll need to know where you’re going, how to afford the trip, what you’ll do when you’re there and more considerations. Below you’ll find advice and helpful links for making the most of a trip abroad.

What do I need to travel abroad?

Specific travel requirements will vary by the region and country you wish to visit. In many cases, the US Department of State can provide information such as travel advisories, as well as specific pre-travel considerations and requirements for visiting that country.


Traveling internationally requires the use of documentation. Identification like passports is a must for anyone traveling overseas, but other countries may require additional travel visas.

  • Passports: A passport is a document created by your country of origin, and serves as one of the most important forms of identification when traveling abroad.
  • Visas: Many countries will require a travel visa to visit. Applying for one could cost money, and it could take time for the approval process to complete, so it is important to apply as soon as possible.
  • Wills: In the case of an emergency, making a will before traveling can help your family make arrangements.

These types of documentation are often necessary to travel, but they’re not the only preparations you’ll need to take.


Climate and other factors result in different regions of the world bearing unique diseases. As such, some countries will require vaccinations to enter. While preparing to travel, research any required vaccinations, and acquire these shots from a healthcare provider, or proof of vaccination if you have already received the proper immunizations.

Additionally, some countries may require a COVID-19 vaccination, as well as a negative test result before entering. Some countries may also require quarantine periods, so it’s important to know regional health and safety regulations before traveling.

Other preparations

Some regions may prefer to deal in cash rather than credit cards. Furthermore, not all credit cards will be accepted internationally, and your own credit card provider may have limitations for travel use. 

It’s useful to keep a quantity of cash in the country’s currency in case of emergencies, and to research preferred methods of payment. In addition, if you do plan on using your credit card, you should inform your provider beforehand, so you won’t experience any pauses after international charges are processed. 

How much does international travel cost?

Unfortunately, one of the top inhibitors for young people to travel is finances. Traveling internationally can carry with it some hefty fees. Some of these costs are to be expected, while some may come as a surprise. Preparing a budget ahead of time can help to account for many of these costs, as well as help to understand how much you can afford to spend.

Food and housing

The bulk of travel costs will result from the combined cost of food and housing. Just like living at home, food will generally cost less if you prepare it yourself rather than eating out. However, living arrangements may make preparing food less convenient, since kitchen access could vary quite a bit. For example, hotel rooms may not have kitchens, but hostels may have a communal kitchen you can access.


Before leaving, it’s important to know if your current cell plan offers coverage in any of the regions you plan to visit. You may find it necessary to upgrade to a plan that offers international service or sign up for temporary service in that region.

Additionally, different countries may have different electrical standards. The International Electrotechnical Commission identifies 15 different outlet shapes used around the world. Because of this, it is important to research things like voltage and plan accordingly by purchasing adaptors and convertors if necessary.

In some regions, the outlet and plug form factor will prevent incompatible devices from being plugged in. However, some regions use the same plugs with different voltages, which can cause costly, potentially dangerous damage to electronics. As such, it’s important to research the standard voltage used in your travel destination and whether that’ll be compatible with your devices.


The costs of transportation most often include plane tickets, as well as means to get to and from the airport. Some airlines charge extra for checked luggage, so make sure to plan to account for any of these charges.

Once you have arrived at your destination, you will need to find a means for getting around there too. Some cities may be traversable through public transit, but if you are traveling to a more rural area or multiple destinations, it may be necessary to rent a vehicle.

If you do plan to drive, you will likely require car insurance and your license. Insurance requirements may vary by country, but it is a good idea to get international coverage even if it isn’t required, especially in an area with different road rules.

Financing your trip by working abroad

To help pay for your travels, it can be helpful to find a flexible method for acquiring funds. This can include finding an internship, as well as taking advantage of remote working opportunities.

  • Working holiday visas: While many tourist visas prohibit you from seeking employment, a working visa allows you to get a job and earn money.
  • Internships: Taking on an international internship is a good way to further your education while traveling. An intern program may even provide a stipend for room and board, making it an attractive option.
  • Blogging: Freelance writing or maintaining an affiliate blog can be a good way to supplement your travel funds. It can even help monetize your trip by letting you write about your travels.
  • Remote work: If you currently work for a company that allows remote work, discuss the idea of traveling while working for them. Establish guidelines for work schedules and expectations.
  • Seasonal work: A good option for those looking for temporary employment, international seasonal work offers a great way to fund your trip while meeting locals.

While these options may offer good general opportunities for young travelers, some programs may offer more specific benefits for students. 

International travel programs for students

For other travel opportunities, students can look into international travel programs. Through these initiatives, students can expand their horizons while furthering their education or supplementing their curriculum.

  • Study Abroad: The US Department of State provides information and resources for students to study abroad, as well as grants and other programs in support of those goals.
  • International summer courses: Many universities around the world offer summer programs for international students. These give you a chance to learn about another culture while interacting with several international students.
  • WWOOF: Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms help to put visitors in touch with farms around the world. This program allows students to learn about sustainability on their host’s farm, while also receiving room and board.

Finding ways to fund your trip and make it possible are essential. But it’s just as vital (and probably more fun) to decide where you’re going.

Most popular student destinations

Many factors contribute to a country’s popularity as a travel destination for students. The language barrier can make a big difference, perhaps contributing to the popularity of English-speaking countries among American students. A few of the most popular student destinations, as described by SYTA include:


Ireland is home to scenic vistas, beautiful landscapes, and vibrant cities. Many visitors love to see Dublin, which offers historic pubs and energetic nightlife. Yet for some, the countryside, with its rolling hills. And of course, there is blarney castle, with its blarney stone. 


One of the most popular destinations in France is Paris, thanks to attractions like the Louvre Museum and the Eiffel Tower. However, the city of Tignes is home to many unique and interesting hotels, and is an exciting destination, with opportunities for skiing.


A great place to visit for any history buff, Greece also offers incredible beauty. Athens has modern, comfortable hotels and attractions to complement its historic cities and ancient ruins, resulting in an awe-inspiring city.


Australia offers an intriguing mix of incredible constructed attractions, like the Sydney Opera House, as well as beautiful natural wonders like the Great Barrier Reef. Melbourne’s unusual and trendy hotels, together with museums and concert halls, make it a great city to stay in for art lovers and nature lovers alike.

Staying safe abroad

Traveling to unfamiliar places carries with it a degree of risk. However, many of these dangers can be mitigated through careful planning and understanding of potential problems. Taking action ahead of time can help to avoid being stuck in a messy situation.


Other countries may have different standards of healthcare than you’re used to, and it may be difficult to find a doctor in an unfamiliar area. Because of this, it’s a good idea to get a checkup before leaving, to take care of any potential issues.

If you have a health condition or other medical concern that requires medication, be sure to get it restocked before leaving, along with any necessary documentation for taking the medication with you during your trip.


Staying safe while traveling requires several considerations. Whether making living arrangements, traveling around, or dealing with law enforcement, it’s important to have an understanding of local regulations and customs, as well as exercise some personal responsibility.


Research ahead of time to make sure you are choosing a trusted hotel. If you know locals, ask them for recommendations. A travel agent might be able to help you as well. And when at the hotel, ask the concierge for advice on which places are safe to visit, and what to avoid.

Make sure you keep your hotel key secure, and lock any valuables in your hotel safe, along with keeping password protection on any devices in your room. At night, it is a good idea to use a secondary lock on your room door if it is available.


When using rideshare apps or taxis, always make sure you are using a legitimate service. Become familiar with the area so you can see if a driver is taking an unusual route to scam money out of you or even involve you in a human trafficking scheme.

Legal issues

It’s also important to be mindful of local laws and ordinances. Fines and the cost of mounting a legal defense in an unfamiliar country could be prohibitively expensive and is best avoided.


It’s always a good idea to keep your personal information safe and secure. Particularly in large cities or well-trafficked areas, it’s important to make sure you keep a close watch on luggage and electronic devices.

Criminals often use busy travel hubs to take advantage of careless travelers. Constant vigilance and proper precautions can help to prevent falling victim to crimes like theft but also cyberattacks. Keep devices secure by taking measures like:

  • Use strong passwords: Use a different password for your phone or laptop lock screen, as well as any bank, email, or other important accounts that may be easily accessed through a device. If your phone has biometric security options like face recognition or fingerprint access, it may be a good idea to enable those as well.
  • Enable two-factor authentication: Using two-factor authentication adds another step to signing into a device, so if a password does get compromised, a hacker will still need access to another account.
  • Disable auto-connecting to networks: Cybercriminals can set up custom Wi-Fi networks designed to collect data from all devices that connect to it. Disabling auto-connect, and only connecting to trusted networks can help avoid these types of attacks.
  • Use VPNs and encryption: Services like VPNs help to keep data secure by creating an encrypted connection between your device and the data it is accessing. This helps prevent hackers from compromising private information sent through a Wi-Fi network.

Taking security measures like these is a good habit to get into even when traveling closer to home. They also make a strong part of a larger strategy for staying safe. It is also a good idea to enlist the help and support of the people in your life.

Keeping family and friends in the loop

While your family and friends will likely want to hear about your travels, keeping them informed on your plans and day-to-day activities can also help keep you safe. Providing friends and family with an itinerary and timeline of your travels can help them know if you get lost or experience some other emergency.

Give copies of important documentation such as room registration confirmations, or identification to family or friends. That way, if anything important gets lost, they will be able to help you avoid any issues with recovering it.

Additional resources

In addition to the information above, the following resources offer additional assistance and support for students looking to travel internationally.

Grants, loans, assistance

  • Collegescholarships.org: This page offers information and resources for different scholarships and grants that students can use to travel and study abroad.
  • Internationalstudentloan.com: This page offers information and links for students looking to take out federal or private loans to travel abroad.
  • Americancouncils.org: American Councils for International Education promotes cross-cultural education, and oversees the US Study Abroad Assistance Fund, which helps provide financial assistance for students looking to study internationally.

Student discounts

  • Students.guide: This page offers a guide with helpful links and advice for taking advantage of student discounts to help save money when traveling abroad.

Leave a Comment