Travel Planning & Logistics | Study Abroad | Yale University
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Travel Planning & Logistics

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This page will cover considerations for travel planning and logistics for those students preparing to go abroad. Your specific study abroad program will provide you with more detailed and country-specific information.

TOC: Planning for your Study Abroad Program


A passport is an official document issued by a government that verifies the identity and nationality of the holder. A passport allows you to travel in and out of foreign countries. You should have a valid passport in your possession at least 3 months prior to the start date of your study abroad program.

FAQ: If You Have a Passport

  • Check the expiration date. For entry to many countries, your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the last day you plan to be in the country. If your passport expires before that date, you will need to renew it.
  • U.S. citizens should visit the U.S. Department of State's website for information about renewing a passport. International students should research passport renewal for their country of citizenship and be aware of how renewal may impact their U.S. student visa.
  • Check to see if you have empty pages for a visa stamp, if necessary.
  • Make a copy (or take a photo) of the name page and relevant visa page(s). Keep a copy/photo for yourself and share one with your family in case your passport is stolen or lost. This will help make the replacement process easier.

FAQ: If You Do NOT Have a Passport

Need passport photos? Check out Yale Public Safety Services.

It is a good idea for a family member or designated emergency contact to have a passport of their own. In the event of an emergency, they will be able travel abroad to be with you.


A visa is an official document issued by a foreign government that allows the bearer to legally enter their country. The visa is usually stamped or glued into the bearer’s passport. There are several different types of visas, each of which afford the bearer different rights in the host country. 

FAQ: Visa Requirements

Visa requirements vary by host country and country of citizenship. It is your responsibility to determine if you will need a visa. Contact your study abroad program for guidance. You can use the CIBT visa tool as a resource. If you'll need a visa, begin the application process as soon as you receive the necessary paperwork from your study abroad program. Be aware that you may be required to apply in person and should schedule an appointment with the appropriate embassy as soon as possible. Appointment times fill quickly, and you should not put this off until the last minute. 

You will need to have a valid passport in order to apply for a visa. If you plan to travel to other countries after your program, be sure to check those countries' entry requirements as well (you may need another visa).

Just as visa requirements vary, so do the required visa application materials. It is possible that you may need the following documents from Yale University:

  • Proof of Financial Aid: This is a letter you would request directly from the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid (if studying abroad in the summer, email
  • Verification of Yale Enrollment: You can request an official certificate of enrollment through the Yale Registrar’s website. If you need a specific letter (common for several countries in Asia), please reach out to your Study Abroad adviser.
  • Verification of Coverage for Out of Country Medical Care, Emergency Evacuation, and Repatriation of Remains: You can download a letter of verification from Yale’s International SOS webpage. The letter can be found under “Verification of Coverage” and approved study abroad students should use the “Letter for international travelers on Yale business”. Be sure to edit the letter with the date, your name, passport number, destination(s) and dates of travel.
  • Proof of Housing: If you are attending a Yale Summer Session Program Abroad and need to provide an address for your housing abroad, contact If you will be attending a Non-Yale program, you should contact your study abroad provider for this information.
  • A Letter of Approval from Yale Study Abroad: If you will need a letter from our office stating that you’ve been approved to study abroad and the credits will count towards your Yale degree, contact

FAQ: Visa Information for International Students

If you are an international student at Yale, make sure your U.S. student visa documents are in order before requesting a visa for your study abroad program and be sure to discuss your plans with an adviser in the Office of International Students & Scholars (OISS).

FAQ: CIBT Visa Service for the Yale Community

If you would like to pay to use a third-party service, one option is to use CIBT Visas. As a student, you can log in with the Yale account number (40634) to get the Yale discount. Confirm with CIBT that, based on your immigration status, you are eligible to use a third-party service and do not need to apply for the visa in person. If you use CIBT, we recommend that you use their online (instead of paper) application and use your own shipping label to avoid unnecessary costs.

Proof of Vaccination

FAQ: COVID-19 Vaccine

Because rules can vary in different destinations and can change, we recommend bringing the original hardcopy of your COVID-19 vaccine card when you travel. Consider protecting the card inside a plastic sleeve or case.

In addition, take a photo of both sides of your COVID-19 vaccine card and save it to a device you will be traveling with as a back-up in case you lose the original card.

FAQ: Other Vaccines

Some destinations will require proof of other vaccines before allowing entry to visitors. Yale Travel Health or your primary care physician can advise you about any immunizations or other medical support that you might need before and while you are abroad. To learn more, visit our Physical & Mental Health resource page.

Banking and Finances

FAQ: Understanding the Local Currency

Familiarize yourself with the local currency used in your study abroad destination to make it easier to understand how much you are spending on your various purchases.

  • What is the currency?
  • What are the denominations?
  • What is the current exchange rate with the U.S. dollar? Visit website such as to view exchange rates.

FAQ: Debit Cards and ATMs

In many countries, you can use your debit card at an ATM to withdraw cash in the local currency. Inform your bank that you will be traveling. Otherwise, the bank may notice foreign activity on your account and freeze your funds for security reasons.

Be aware of the following fees which you may be charged each time you withdraw money from an ATM in a foreign country:

  • Your bank’s foreign ATM fee
  • The foreign ATM’s fee
  • Currency conversion fees

We encourage you to contact your bank to learn about their international ATM fees and to determine if they have a partnership with a specific bank overseas that might reduce fees. Be sure to understand your daily withdrawal limit and get a sense of how easy it will be to find an ATM in your host location. 

FAQ: Credit Cards Abroad

In many countries, credit cards can be a convenient way of paying for items. Most credit cards offer the added security of not holding you liable for fraudulent charges.

However, if you do not pay your balance on a monthly basis, you could be charged high interest fees. Also, depending on your credit card, you may be charged certain fees when using it abroad. Contact your credit card company and inquire about these fees. Some of the common fees include:

  • An international use fee
  • Cash advance fee and interest rate (for withdrawing cash through an ATM)

It is recommended to inform your credit card company that you will be traveling as some companies may become alarmed when they notice foreign activity on your account and may freeze your card until they can ensure that it is you who is using your credit card abroad.

In some countries, credit cards are used much less frequently than they are in the U.S. Ask your program what types of businesses are likely to accept credit cards. 

FAQ: Chip and PIN Credit Cards

Countries in Europe use a Chip and PIN system for the credit and debit cards issued in their countries. Instead of using your signature to verify payments, you will be asked to enter a four-digit Personal Identification Number (PIN) known only to you. You may encounter some challenges abroad trying to use a standard US credit card without a chip. Contact your credit card company if your card doesn't have a chip, or if you need to know how to use a PIN with your existing chip.

FAQ: Determining a Budget

Determining the amount of money you will need during your stay abroad can be difficult. However, we have put together some budgeting tips to help you plan for your study abroad experience.

Communication & Mobile Phones

  • Research your mobile phone plan options before going abroad.
  • Ask your current cell phone provider for information about international calling, texting, and data plans. Most U.S. providers such as AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon offer international plans. Make sure you understand how much data you regularly use before buying a data package.
  • For some destinations, it may be more affordable to use a local SIM card or to purchase a phone in-country. If you would like to use a local SIM card on your U.S. mobile phone, check with your carrier to see if your mobile phone can be unlocked.
  • If you will have a limited data plan, try to save data for emergencies and transportation apps such Google Maps. Whenever possible, try to use W-Fi for all other communications.
  • Don't assume that Wi-Fi will be readily available everywhere.
  • Some well-known options to stay in touch include: WhatsApp, FaceTime (Apple), Facebook Messenger, Viber, Zoom, and Skype.

Accessing Yale Library Resources

To use Yale Library e-resources such as Quicksearch, Orbis, Databases A-Z, or other library access points, you need to be identified as a Yale University Library patron. Since many Yale applications are restricted to the Yale campus computers, you'll need to download the Yale VPN Client to access restricted resources from abroad

Multifactor Authentication (MFA)
All Yale students who access Yale resources using Central Authentication System (CAS) from off campus or VPN from anywhere are required to use MFA. MFA requires a user to prove his or her identity after entering a NetID and password by responding to a prompt using a mobile device, landline, tablet, or token. You are encouraged to set up MFA prior to your departure.

Packing Tips

Be sure to pack only what you can comfortably carry on your own! Roads surfaces vary around the world and they may include rough, uneven or cobblestone streets. You may also have to carry luggage up several flights of stairs.

    FAQ: Luggage

    Checked Luggage:

  • Check with your airline to determine baggage fees and maximum luggage allowance. Many airlines allow each passenger to check at least one bag for free on international flights.
  • While most flights from the U.S. allow bags that can each weigh up to 50 lbs, luggage restrictions in other countries are much tighter. For example, often luggage in Europe cannot weigh in total more than 20 kg (about 44 lbs). Charges for too many bags or bags that are too heavy may apply and are normally very expensive. Check with your airline if you have any doubts or questions.
  • If you plan to travel outside of your host country, consider bringing a smaller rolling bag to avoid having to buy other luggage while abroad. 
  • Think about the size and weight of your suitcase.  Are you able to carry it by yourself?  Remember that you will buy things there, so be sure to leave some spare room!  
  • Tie a piece of brightly colored string or add a quickly recognizable ribbon or tag on your suitcase to easily identify it on the baggage carousel. All black suitcases look the same on the luggage carousel.

    Carry-on and/or Personal Item (smaller suitcase, duffel bag, etc.):

  • Have a small carry-on bag packed with essentials in case your checked luggage is lost or delayed.  Be sure to keep your passport, visa, and wallet with you at all times. Also, pack your prescription medications and a change of clothes. 
  • Most airlines share dimensions on their website to make sure that the carry-on you bring will fit in the compartment over your airline seat.
  • If your flight is full and you have a larger carry-on like a suitcase or duffel, you may be required to check it at the gate. 

    FAQ: What to Bring

Documents and IDs

Below is a list of documents and IDs to carry with you either in your carry-on or personal item. Check with your study abroad program to determine if there are any additional documents you will need to carry. Copy all of your important documents and store the copies separately from the originals. Leave an additional copy with someone in the US and keep an electronic copy in a secure location.

  • Passport
  • Visa (usually glued inside your passport), if applicable
  • Program acceptance letter
  • International health insurance ID card
  • International SOS card

Voltage & Plug Adaptors

Electrical plugs differ in size and shape, as does voltage. Be sure the plug on appliances you wish to use abroad matches the pin configuration for the country or region in which you will be traveling.  If you are planning to bring electrical equipment, make sure that it will be permitted by the airline and that it will be compatible with the voltage in your host country, or buy the appropriate adaptors or transformers to link with local electrical power.  Major appliances, such as laptops and cell phone chargers, will normally have built in voltage adaptors in your U.S. charger, meaning you only need to purchase a plug adaptor (always double check this though).  Smaller electrical appliances, such as hairdryers and alarm clocks, will often need a voltage adaptor and it is much easier to just buy these appliances in your host country.

Packing Lists

  • Use a packing checklist so you ensure you bring all the necessities for your experience abroad. Ask your study abroad program for packing recommendations.
  • Keep in mind that you will likely purchase additional items and souvenirs while abroad. Leave extra space in your luggage, bring an extra bag, or be prepared to purchase an extra bag abroad.
  • Remember, many basic items can be purchased almost anywhere in the world. For some items, such as toiletries, it may make sense to bring a small amount and purchase more locally as needed.