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Chile VW 2

Preparations for Departure

You'll want to pay close attention to the pre-departure instructions that your program provider will give you.  Read everything and share with your parents.  Below are general guidelines for what you'll need to travel internationally.  You will be given instructions for specific documents or procedures that are country-specific.


You should plan to take several documents — and keep them in a safe place separate from your passport:
  • Photocopy of the photo/information page of your passport
  • Photocopy of any visas you may have for your program
  • Photocopy of your airline ticket(s) or printout of your e-ticket.
  • Insurance policies
  • Also leave copies of these documents at home with your family
Getting a U.S. Passport

For complete details on how to apply for a passport, what is needed and how much it costs, visit the U.S. Department of State website.

Where: There are many acceptance facilities in Washington State. To search for passport issuing offices check for the nearest Passport Acceptance FacilityThe closest acceptance facility to SPU is the downtown Seattle USPS located at 301 Union Street (between 3rd and 4th avenues.)

When: It takes about six weeks for regular processing and two to three weeks if you request expedited services. Applicants who need a passport in less than two weeks, or need one to obtain a visa in less than four weeks, can schedule an appointment at the Seattle Passport Agency.

Do you need a Visa?

Some countries require foreign travelers to obtain a visitor or student visa before they arrive. Your program will provide you with information and documentation for any required visa. If you are coordinating a visa on your own, contact the consulate of the country you plan to visit for specific information about visas.

Other Items

It is a good idea to carry several passport-size photographs of yourself, in case you need these for special identification while overseas. When having the photos taken, remember that the more pictures you have taken, the lower the price will be per set.

Power of Attorney
If you are receiving scholarships, loans, or grants that require your signature while you're studying abroad, consider leaving a Limited Power of Attorney with the Financial Aid Office. Call 206-281-2061 for more information. If you plan to turn over your power of attorney to your parents or someone else for the duration of your study abroad experience, fill out the form and have it notarized.

Money Matters
Traveling to a foreign country requires extra consideration on how you will use and access funds. Read through our Money Matters  document for a general overview on accessing money while overseas. 

Absentee Ballots
If you choose to vote during up-coming elections, follow the procedures of the state in which you are registered. Youth Vote Overseas is a helpful resource for determining overseas voting requirements.

“Pack so little that you won’t believe how light your suitcase is!”
—Former Study Abroad Student

Travel Light!
The amount of luggage that you carry, especially if you plan to travel before or after your program, can make a tremendous difference in the enjoyment of your travels. Follow this rule of thumb:
  • Pack everything you think you will need, then reduce it by half
  • Take your luggage for a walk – carry it up and down some stairs
  • Reduce it by half again
  • For valuable advice on  packing light and right visit the website of Seattle travel writer, Rick Steves
What you Can Live Without
Something we frequently hear from returned students is that they took too much stuff. Said one student , “In most cases, you will not be leaving the comforts of the modern world; other countries have hair dryers, computers, clothes, shampoo, etc., and you can buy those items overseas. Resist the temptation to over-pack, and instead think about what you can live without during your overseas stay.

You will be responsible for carrying your luggage through subways, hoisting it into trains, and possibly even having to walk a few blocks with it. Luggage carts with wheels can be life savers, but probably won’t fare well on uneven ground. Rememeber: If you can’t lift it by yourself now, you won’t be able to hoist it once you reach your destination!

Climate and Topography
Research the climate and topography of the area to which you will travel and study abroad. You may change what you want to take with you.

Baggage Insurance
All participants should have their baggage insured. Simple insurance plans are available online and at travel agencies. Including packed cameras, clothing and incidentals, your baggage is worth at least $300–$500.

Plan to be covered from your date of departure until the date you arrive home. Check with your airline to find out what coverage, if any, is included in the price of your ticket.


Information Sharing

Save your parents or guardians from anxiety by telling them everything about your program. This information is deeply ingrained in your own brain, but have you told anyone else?  Go over any and all information your program sponsor sends you, even if it seems trivial or non-essential.
  • Write down dates, places, contact phone numbers, time differences, addresses, itineraries, town and university names. Make two copies: one for you to bring and one to remain home with your emergency contact.
  • Assume your family doesn’t know anything about your program. This is probably the first time they are sending their child overseas for an extended period of time.
  • Keeping your loved ones informed will help calm their potential anxieties or worries.

International Student Identify Card
Some programs offer student an International Student Identity Card (ISIC) or you can purchase on on your own. Your  card will provide discounts on airfares, hotels, transportation, shopping, eating out, and attractions. Features include a 24-hour help-line for medical, financial, or legal emergencies abroad, basic accident and sickness insurance for travel outside the U.S., including hospital benefits, dismemberment, emergency medical evacuation, and coverage for repatriation of remains.

While the card’s benefits should not be used as the primary insurance coverage, the benefits included are an excellent "extra," and at a very low price. Some airlines are now requiring proof of student status before booking flights — the ISIC is acceptable proof. Applications are available online at STA Travel.