5 Essential Travel Tips for International Students


Jonathan Perez | Dec 28, 2023 Student Life

From reaching the airport to arriving at your destination, travelling is a hectic activity that rewards those who come prepared. You’ve likely seen people scrambling to get their luggage to meet weight restrictions at check-in, digging through bags to find the large liquid they need to dispense, and even rushing through security to make their departure.

It’s understandable, and while traveling can be challenging, this guide was created to make sure you get from point A to point B in the safest and most efficient way possible.

Check Your Travel Documents

The first thoughts many people associate with traveling include purchasing a ticket, visiting the airport, and flying in seamless fashion. However, you will need to maintain some upkeep with your personal information – particularly your passport – when catching a flight.

When flying, you will need a valid passport on hand. “Valid” simply means that your passport is not expired, which will allow you to travel to and from different countries.

You should also note that certain countries have a 6-month passport validity rule, especially if you expect to travel back to one of them. This means that a visitor’s passport should be valid for at least 6 months after the trip ends to gain entry to the destination country. .

Determine Campus Accessibility

The United States is a diverse country with different types of metropolitan areas that colleges can be found in. These differences can play a large role in how you might get around, and where you might expect to live during your time in college.

For example, a multi-transportation city like New York can rely on both public modes of transport, like buses and trains, walking, and even an emphasis on ride-sharing services. Cars are generally a more accepted option in driver-friendly cities, like many in Texas and California.

Stay Connected

Anytime you travel abroad, you will need some form of communication, not as a means for distraction or leisure, but as a communication essential. However, making sure you have the right connections may pose expensive challenges – here are some ways to not break the bank on your international phone bill.

Before getting started, you will first need to see if your service includes some form of international calls. These plans provide reduced rates when calling over international borders, saving you significant amounts of money - especially if you find yourself on the phone often.

Your phone might also be accustomed to only working in your home country, which may cause some issues when trying to communicate in the U.S. Some workarounds to this include unlocking your phone if it is locked so you can use a local network in your area, buying a prepaid SIM card that will allow you to use your own phone in another country, or add a plan to your eSIM within your phone’s hardware from a local provider. A guide for iPhone eSIM setup can be found here.

Save Money

U.S. colleges are known to throw many expenses at you, which can be daunting for those with limited budgets. It is easy to become overwhelmed at such costs, but a prepared mind can resourcefully locate some valid alternatives that still get the job done.

For example, textbooks and learning materials comprise a large portion of student expenses once they’ve started school, but students can:

  • Rent textbooks on Amazon digitally, or buy a used copy
  • Search websites intended for textbooks, like Chegg and eCampus.com
  • Find a friend who took the course before and see if their book was the same
  • Share one with a fellow student taking the course
  • Ask their professor if all listed texts are required during the semester
  • Locate free textbook databases online

Your status as a student provides you access to many discounts across many services and items. As a best practice, regardless of where you go, you should inquire if there are any student discounts available, and should keep your student ID on you at all times to redeem them. More student-specific discounts can be found in our blog.

Stay Covered

You’ll likely find that traveling includes a significant change in cuisine and lifestyle, which may be the biggest tangible differences from your home country. One should note before entering the United States to finalize any necessary health checks for their school or travel requirements. More details can be found here.

One of the most noteworthy things about receiving health care in the United States is how costly medical services can be, even for the simplest of treatments. Many Americans depend on a health insurance plan that is able to support them financially during times of sickness and injury. Depending on your school, you might have different options as an international student for insurance, but ISO Student Health Insurance provides plans that meet coverage requirements in schools across the United States at a fraction of the cost.

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About ISO Student Health Insurance

Founded in 1958, ISO prides itself on being the leader in providing international students with affordable insurance plans. Administered by former and current international students, we are able to assist our member with multilingual customer service in Chinese, Hindi, Spanish, and more. ISO serves over 3,200 schools/colleges and more than 150,000 insured students every year.

For more information, please visit www.isoa.org and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, WeChat, WhatsApp, and LinkedIn.

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