Pre-Travel Orientation for Students Traveling Abroad

Pre-Travel Orientation Session for Students Traveling Abroad

The GHI provides a pre-travel orientation session for students traveling abroad, including (but not limited to) Framework in Global Health Scholars, and AMS Summer Assistantship recipients. All are strongly encouraged to attend this one-day training session.

The orientation covers the following topics:

  • global health basics
  • personal health and safety
  • vaccinations
  • cultural issues
  • practical advice for living overseas
  • responsible conduct in research

Please see below for selected pre-travel training materials:

 International Travel FAQ’s

How do I get a passport?

Your passport is one of the most important documents you will have while abroad. Store your passport in a safe place. Make copies. Leave one at home and bring several with you during your travels. Give a copy to your program director in case your passport is lost or stolen. Consider making sure a family member has a valid passport as well. In case of emergency, they will be able to travel to you.

Applying for a passport can take up to three months, so apply as soon as possible. Additionally, know your passport expiration date as some countries require up to date passports anywhere from three to six months after leaving the country. You can apply for a passport at the post office. Information on passports and passport applications can be found on the U.S. State Department website at:

The documents you will need to obtain a passport include:

  • Passport application
  • Proof of citizenship (i.e., birth certificate with a raise seal and filing date; no photocopies)
  • Lawful form of identification (i.e., valid driver’s license or current government-issued ID)
  • Passport photo
  • Passport fee, execution fee, fee for expedited service (when required); the US State Department website has current fees

Non-US citizens should have a valid passport during your travels. Confirm your travel follows current US immigration policies and. The international student office is a good resource.

What is a visa? Do I need one? 

Essentially, a travel visa is a document that shows you’re allowed to enter a specific country, for a specific length of time, to do a specific thing such as tour or study or work. Travel visa requirements depend on your citizenship. Start by informing yourself on what the entry restrictions are for the country you are visiting. With regards to American tourists, some countries require visas, some do not, and some base the need for a visa on your length of stay.

What’s my first move?

When hunting for visa applications online, you’ll want to start at the embassy or consulate website for the nation you’re visiting. Typically, you’ll fill out visa application forms online, print and mail them in, or hand deliver them to the nation’s local consulate. After processing your documents, the consulate will mail you a visa that attaches into your passport. On average, the process takes anywhere from two weeks to two months.

What will it cost? How can I expedite this process?

You'll usually have to send a money order or check along with your visa application. If you are pressed for time, there are agencies that will fill out paperwork and secure a visa for you. Brown has a contract with CIBT Visas, or you can also find these services at,, and more.

How do I start to prepare for my trip?

If you are an undergraduate, you are required to register your trip with Sojourn Abroad at If you are a graduate or medical school student, you are strongly encouraged to register your trip. The Sojourn Abroad Guide provides useful information about travel requirements, health and safety abroad, cultural adjustment, and the logistics of living in another country. Brown also requires International Health Insurance.

What International Health Insurance do I need?

There are two types of mandatory coverage: International SOS and GeoBlue Study Abroad Insurance. The University has contracted with International SOS to provide Brown travelers with 24 hour worldwide medical and travel assistance, including emergency evacuation. GeoBlue offers a full range of individual and group specialty health insurance programs, intended for short term educational or research related abroad experiences. For more information, please visit the following websites:

What vaccines or medications do I need when traveling?

Depending on where you are going, consult for country-specific information on traveler’s health. Bring necessary prescription medicines to last the entire stay. Additionally, bring a doctor’s note or the original prescription to avoid any issues at customs. Pack non-prescription medicines you think you might need and may not be readily available in your host country.

What should I pack? Do I need anything other than clothes?

Research the country and its culture to inform your clothing choices. When packing, try to keep it light and appropriate for the length of stay.

Packing list should include a first aid kit as well as additional medications that are specific to international travel and pre-existing conditions. Visit this site for guidelines on travel health kits:

-- 1 jeans, 1-2 shorts or skirts, 4-5 shirts, 2 dresses, 1 athletic outfit, 1-2 work outfit,

-- 1 sandal or flip flop, 1 athletic shoe, 1 closed toed shoe, 1 semi-professional shoe

How else can I prepare for my trip?

Before traveling, inform your bank that you will be out of the country to prevent your debit or credit card from deactivation. Also consider exchanging money to the desired currency, ordering travelers checks, and the additional fees associated with transactions in foreign countries.

Any last minute tips?

Photocopy all important documents and email digital copies to yourself.

See the Brown University Office of International Programs for the “Take It With You" Guide at:

Additional Helpful Resources

U.S. State Department Travel Site:

Helpful in-country contacts during travel:

Information about what is and is not allowed back in the US after travel: