Airport Safety and Security
Please check with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website prior to travel to ensure that you comply with the most recent rules about airline safety. As of August 30, 2006, the TSA recommends that domestic passengers arrive two hours prior to flight. International passengers are encouraged to allow additional time and to check with the air carrier.
- Showing Identification: Try to always have your passport easily accessible, yet protect it against theft. Be prepared to show your passport when presenting your airline tickets/receiving boarding passes, entering departure gates, going through passport control, when boarding flights, etc.
- Carry-on Luggage: To expedite the screening process, please pack all liquids and gels – including shampoo, toothpaste, perfume, hair gel, suntan lotion and all other items with similar consistency in your checked baggage. Check with your airline to find out its regulations for what you can and cannot pack in your carry-on bags. Do not put any sharp objects like nail scissors, razors, or pocket knives in your carry-on. Such items may be considered a threat to safety and could be taken away from you. Pack them in your checked baggage instead.
- Accepting Things from Others: Under no circumstances, should you ever take anything from, or hold anything for, anyone who asks you to do so. If anyone does ask you, simply say “no” and walk away. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to family and friends. You need to think about the potential consequences before you hold anything for anyone.
- Watching Your Bags: Your bags should be in your sight at the airport up to the point when you check them at the airline counter. Once you have picked up your bags from baggage claim, and are on your way to customs, be sure to keep a close eye on all your luggage so that no one but you has access to it.
- Random Baggage Searches: If you are stopped and asked to open your luggage, cooperate with the customs officials. Customs officials often conduct random baggage searches; just because your luggage gets searched, doesn’t mean you have done something wrong.
- Body Searches: Airport security officials may conduct random body searches using an electronic device they wave over you. In some cases, a security official of the same sex as you may conduct a body search using his or her hands, and/or ask you to remove your shoes for inspection.
- Distractions: Airports are full of people carrying cash, travelers’ checks, credit cards, passports and other valuable documents. Therefore, airports tend to be an active place for thieves. While your attention is focused on checking in, boarding, getting your bags, finding a restroom, etc., you can become an easy target for theft. Be alert to anyone who suspiciously tries to distract you by asking directions, knocking over your coffee, reaching under a bathroom stall, etc.
It is best to take enough U.S. cash with you to convert to the currency of your destination for incidentals on your trip. The host from the tour operator who meets you at the airport will be able to advise you how much to convert for your time there, as well as the best place to make the conversion. As a general rule, you should wait to do this when you arrive at the airport or a local bank. A conversion fee always applies, but they do vary. Hotels tend to have high conversion fees. To get an idea of the type of currency and approximate conversion rate at your destination, visit http://www.xe.com/ucc/ or http://www.oanda.com/convert/classic.
Check with your health insurance provider to make sure you are covered outside of the U.S. with your health insurance policy. Please get the phone number to call and exact procedures should you need them.
Talk to your physician to discuss health and medication issues. Bring enough of the over-the-counter medications that you regularly use for the entire journey. Have necessary prescriptions filled and bring copies of your written prescriptions, including the generic forms. All medications should be transported in their original, labeled containers in your carry-on luggage to avoid freezing in the baggage compartment and in case checked luggage is lost. Don’t forget to bring spare contact lenses and/or eyeglasses.
Inoculations and Preventative Medications
Check with your personal physician for her/his recommendations. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a very useful website with specific destination information at: http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/destinationList.aspx
The CDC’s Travelers’ Health Automated Information Line : 877-FYI-TRIP
You will be notified in your confirmation packet from the tour operator whether any vaccines or preventative medications are recommended for travel to your destination.
- Check the expected weather online ahead of time (see “Other Useful Information” below).
- Pack as lightly as you possibly can! Excess baggage is just that—excess baggage!
- Bring comfortable clothing and, most especially, comfortable shoes.
- Layers work well for changing climates instead of heavy outerwear.
- Pack a lightweight waterproof jacket, poncho, or umbrella.
- Dress is casual, unless otherwise specified. Some folks like to dress up a bit more for the Welcome and Farewell Dinners, although it is not necessary.
- For some helpful packing tips and lists, visit:
Passport and Other Documents
Make sure your passport does not expire prior to six months after the return date of your trip. If you need to apply for or renew a passport, allow a minimum of 12-16 weeks prior to departure. For an additional fee your passport may be expedited. Please refer to http://travel.state.gov/passport/get/first/first_831.html for more details. For more information on applying for a passport for the first time, see http://travel.state.gov/passport/get/first/first_832.html For more information on renewing a current or expired passport, refer to http://travel.state.gov/passport/get/renew/renew_833.html
Passports and other documents should be carried with you, secure yet readily accessible at customs. The same goes for money, credit cards, and traveler’s checks. Consider purchasing a small travel pack that may be worn underneath your clothing. Leave a photocopy of your passport ID page with your belongings in a different location from your actual passport, and leave a copy at home. Likewise, make a copy of both sides of your credit cards and store in a secure location from your actual credit cards.
Personal Safety & Security
Conduct your own research on the countries you will visit; consider information about safety, health, legal, environmental, political, cultural, and religious conditions in each country you will visit. For up-to-date travel warnings, see the State Department website at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_1764.html Be aware of local conditions and customs that may present safety risks, and behave in a manner respectful of others’ well-being.
For more information, see the tips for being a guest in a foreign country on the U.S. State Department Website http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/tips/66873.htm
Phoning home from a foreign country can be a complicated process. Calling collect is always an option, but usually quite expensive. Almost all of the U.S. long-distance telephone companies have access codes for each country. It is highly recommended to obtain the access code of your long distance company before going abroad, as it is very difficult to find this out while there. These numbers will connect you directly to an English-speaking operator and will be charged to your calling card. In some cases, the charge can also go on a credit card. Specific information about calling cards can be obtained by calling your long distance carrier. Be sure to compare calling card rates; companies are interested in being competitive and will usually negotiate prices.
Pre-paid calling cards purchased in the U.S. may not work in some countries, so check with the provider if you are interested in using pre-paid services. In many destinations, pre-paid international calling cards may be purchased for a reasonable price. Check with the host from your tour operating company who meets you at the airport for more information.
Most U.S. based cell phones do not yet have international access, although some are available. Check on options for cell phone service in your destination with your cell phone provider before departure.
You can access country calling codes at http://www.countrycallingcodes.com/
Your tour operator will include information on obtaining trip insurance in your confirmation letter. Please note that there is a time frame for securing trip insurance. The University of Virginia will cancel its endorsement of and faculty and staff participation in any program destination for which a Travel Warning is issued by the U.S. Department of State. Vendor Terms of Agreement will specify under what circumstances the vendor will cancel a program and/or under what circumstances participants might receive some reimbursement if they cancel their travel with the vendor themselves. U.Va. strongly recommends that all participants purchase trip cancellation insurance which includes protection in the face of political unrest, natural disasters, and personal emergencies and participants should discuss this insurance directly with the vendor or other travel services with whom they deal. Another source of useful information is the Trip Insurance Store at http://www.tripinsurancestore.com/ or (888) 407-3854.
- Find out how to access your e-mail account away from home.
- For information on time zones at your destination, refer to http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/.
- For actual weather predictions for your destination: http://weather.msn.com/
- Typical weather for a particular season at your destination: http://www.worldclimate.com/.
- In some instances, Cavalier Travels will forward you a sheet in your confirmation packet outlining helpful phrases and words in the native language of your destination country. You may also refer to http://www.smartphrase.com/
- If you have mobility issues or dietary restrictions, please bring this to our attention on your Emergency Contact form, and we will make every effort to accommodate your needs.
Want to learn more? Let's connect and find the trip for you!
Director of Alumni & Parent Travel
Get in touch with me to learn more about a specific trip or trips or to tell me about your travel interests for future travel opportunities.
Email me at email@example.com or call me at
434-243-4984 or toll free at 866-765-2646