The time has finally come! You have a nice, shiny big group of future participants who have decided to go on one of your travel programs. As they start a flurry of preparations for their biggest adventure yet, an invitation is given. Why not step in—like a true hero—and give them the ULTIMATE list of resources they’ll need. This is your time to shine, not to mention offer stellar, comprehensive, and helpful services to your new batch of babes.
We want to make this step of your support as easy as possible, so we’ve put together this helpful list of awesome resources for travel program participants—any (American) travel program participants! For future interns, ESL teachers, volunteers, students abroad, here’s GoAbroad’s short list of helpful resources for anyone travel-bound.
Preparing to Travel
Choosing a program is only the beginning. Afterwards, it’s important that you let your travel program participants know of some helpful organizations/websites at their disposal.
The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service that allows U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to document their international travel with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
The benefits of enrolling in this program include:
- Receiving important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in the destination country
- Helping the U.S. Embassy contact your program participant in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.
- Help family and friends likewise get in touch with your participant in an emergency
Enrolling for STEP will allow your participants to be aware of any important situations and can give their family a peace of mind as well.
If your participant is a student who is going abroad, it is recommended that they sign up for the ISIC card. The ISIC card allows students the world over to prove their official student status and make the most of thousands of targeted student benefits and discounts in over 130 countries. By proving the legitimacy of your participants student status, they will be eligible for over 150,000 discounts and benefits. The ISIC is endorsed by organisations such as UNESCO, the European Council on Culture and the Andean Community of Nations, and is a great resource for your participant!
3. Travel Advisories
As a first step in planning any trip abroad, provide your participant with the correct resource to check any travel advisories for their destination. A trusted resourced would be to check in with the U.S Department of State’s Travel Advisory list.
Conditions can change very quickly in a country at any time. They will be able stay updated with Travel Advisories and Alerts for their country by signing up at step.state.gov.
Though not required, we generally encourage participants to invest in travel insurance. There are various levels of coverage and costs. Travel insurance generally covers catastrophes, evacuations, lost luggage, changed flights, medical reimbursements, etc., but each plan varies and should be carefully considered prior to purchasing.
If your organization does not have an insurance plan yet, your participants can still find some reputable options on our Travel Insurance page. Otherwise, recommend your own plan and help them get insured.
Truly, there are no good reasons not to pursue meaningful travel, but unfortunately—financial restraints might be a huge one for your participant. With academic and higher education program costs increasing every year, providing participants with financial aid resources can definitely help ease the load. Below are just a few of the resources that further discuss all of the financial resources available.
5. Scholarship Directory
There are so many scholarships to fund programs abroad and it can be very overwhelming for your participant. That’s why having your participant use GoAbroad’s Scholarship Directory can help them zero-in on scholarships abroad that fit their adventure.
More specific links include:
- How to Foot the Bill of Your TEFL Certification Cost
- Looking for Study Abroad Scholarships? The COMPLETE Guide
- How to Cover Your Gap Year Cost
- Paying to Teach Abroad
- How to Afford Interning Abroad
- Quit Trying to Volunteer Abroad for Free
6. Student Loans for Study Abroad
If some of your participants aren’t eligible for scholarships, be sure to refer them to GoAbroad’s Guide to Study Abroad Loans. Applying for a loan could be a complicated, long, and even an intimidating process; however, using this guide and conducting a lot of research can help your participant get the financial resource they need.
7. Travel Credit Card
A credit card can either save or cost your participant quite a bit of money while traveling. For starters, about 90 percent of credit cards charge foreign transaction fees, with the average being 2.02 percent of amounts spent; that makes a no-foreign-transaction-fee credit card a must-pack for your participant.
Ideally, a credit card should also subsidize a good portion of travel expenses through rewards. These rewards can include a “signing up bonus” and extra points on anything purchased that is travel related. The right credit card can help your participant save on travel expenses via regular, purchase-based rewards.
Make sure your participant can get their credit into shape so they can carefully choose a card, and redeem their earnings.
Be sure to also remind them to notify the issuer about their travel so that spending privileges aren’t mistakenly suspended due to suspicions of fraud.
Below are some resources to help your participant get started:
- Best Study Abroad Credit Cards for 2018
- Best card options when sending your child abroad (for parents)
- Using Your Credit Card Abroad
Participants will definitely want to find ways to communicate with family and friends while they are abroad. Naturally, your list of resources for travel program participants should cover reliable communication options. The following resources will help your participant stay connected:
8. Free Messaging Applications
Smartphone applications like Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Tango etc will allow participants to connect with their loved ones for free! These applications usually serve and an online phone connected that can be easily downloaded to both phone and computer. They can be used whenever connected to WIFI.
9. WIFI Spots
To use free messaging applications, your participants will need a good WIFI connection. While connections continue to increase worldwide, there may still be a few areas where the connection is spotty. Encourage your participants to use pocket WIFI hotspot devices so they can always stay connected.
Be sure to let your participant know that they can always just take their smartphone abroad. If they have the phone unlocked, they can simply buy a SIM card and cheap phone plan in their new country. Or they can sign up for plans with T-Mobile & Sprint, which have data covered in 100+ countries. Just remind them to be careful when using their phone in public!
More related resources:
- The Benefits of Studying Abroad WITHOUT Your Smart Phone
- The 4 Best Phones for Teens Going Abroad
- 11 Tips to Find the Best Study Abroad Phone + Plans
Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
At the end of the day, traveling on a program abroad can be a mentally exhausting journey. Chances are that they may get homesick when they’re abroad or experience culture shock. Prepare them for the possibility of tough times by providing them with self-care resources they can use before, during, and after their program abroad. We’d be remiss if our list of resources for travel program participants didn’t include something for their overall well-being!
11. Mental Health Resources
The dominant narrative in travel portrays a very go-getter, happy-go-lucky, high-spirited, wonderful, magical experience. However, that may not always be the case for your participant. Participants can still travel abroad with a mental disorder, but they can also thrive while doing so.
There are plenty of great articles and successful articles to share with your participant in regards to mental health. Below are just a few!
- Free Travel, Mental Health, & Self-Care Ebook
- NAFSA’s Mental Health and Study Abroad
- List of International Suicide Prevention Hotlines
And here are more articles and tips for handling depression while on specific types of programs:
- 7 Tips to Travel as a Teen with Depression
- How to Cope with Depression While Interning Abroad
- Can I Work Abroad if I Have Depression?
- 11 Tips to Handle Depression While Volunteering Abroad
- Studying Abroad with Anxiety
- 7 Tips if You’re Feeling Depressed During a Gap Year
- 6 Tips for When You’re Feeling Depressed While Teaching Abroad
Pass along these valuable resources!
These 11 resources for travel program participants are a great start. Helping your participant with every step of the journey will just make their experience even more incredible. Take this info and pass it along to your globetrotters. Let your organization shine like a hero in their eyes. ✨