Travel Resources

Once the academic side of study abroad is planned, it is time to begin considering the logistics of your physical travel to your study abroad destination. For some students, this might be the first time traveling internationally or perhaps even the first time on a plane. Follow these tips to ensure a smooth, enjoyable journey.

  • Determine your eligibility for and apply for your passport.
  • You will need to submit this form in person at a passport processing center, which could be your local courthouse or post office. Passport application acceptance agents also attend the Study Abroad and Passport Fairs in the fall and spring.
  • Passports must be valid for 6 months following your return from your study abroad experience, so check your expiration date and renew if necessary.
  • A visa is a stamp or sticker in your passport that grants entrance or a period of stay for a particular country.
  • Depending on the host country and length of your study abroad program, you may need to apply for a visa.
  • Programs over 90 days almost always require a visa.
  • To find out if you need a visa and how to apply, visit your host country’s embassy website or ask your faculty director.
  • If you have questions, contact Auburn Abroad.

Preparation and Arrival

  • Visit the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website to find out which items are prohibited onboard the flight, including restrictions on liquids and gels. Also, review travel advice for checked luggage. For example, it is recommended to transport laptops and rechargeable batteries in carry-on bags.
  • Consult your airline’s website for size and weight restrictions on checked and carry-on luggage. Weigh your luggage before leaving home to avoid being charged an extra fee.
  • Dress comfortably, as it will be easier to maneuver the airport and go through security.
  • Have a reusable water bottle handy. It is important to stay hydrated while you travel.
  • Packing your own small snacks can cut down on costs at the airport.
  • Arrive at the airport three hours before the departure time of your international flight. This may seem like a long time, but the lines for check-in, luggage drop, and security can be unpredictably long.
  • When arriving at the airport, make sure to check the signs above the doors to find the entry point of your airline. The appropriate check-in desks will be found just inside.
  • Say goodbye to your family and friends and find the end of the security line.


  • Ensure your water bottle is empty, as you cannot take any containers with liquids through security unless it is three ounces or less.
  • Have your boarding pass and passport in your hand before entering the security checkpoint because they will be checked immediately before your carry-on belongings are scanned.
  • You will usually remove your shoes, belt, and/or jacket to proceed through the security scanners, but follow instructions from TSA agents in your specific line.
  • Place larger bags directly on the conveyer belt. All other personal items should be placed in the bins. Make sure your pockets are empty.
  • Laptops and liquids (in quart-size clear Ziploc bags) must be taken out of carry-on luggage and placed in a bin.


  • Once you are through security, find a departure information screen to determine the gate and time at which you will board.
  • Stay tuned to PA announcements and departure information screens to ensure your boarding gate or time does not change.
  • Flights typically board 50 minutes before departure, so make sure to be waiting at your gate.
  • Never leave your carry-on luggage unattended.
  • Explore the airport, check out the shops, grab a bite to eat, and relax before your flight.
  • Flights typically board by zones, and you can find your boarding zone on your boarding pass. Understand there is no hurry, especially if you have an assigned seat number.
  • An airline attendant will scan your boarding pass and may check your passport before entering the plane, so have them handy.
  • Enjoy your flight!

Immigration and Customs

Procedures will vary by country, but you can expect the following to happen when you land in your foreign destination:

  • Shortly before landing, you will be asked to complete a customs declaration form, which asks questions about items being brought into the foreign country:
    • What is your purpose of travel?
    • At what address will you be residing in-country?
    • Are you bringing any fruits, vegetables, seeds, food, meats, animal products, diseases, soil, or plants into the country?
    • Are you carrying over X amount of dollars in cash into the country?
  • Be honest on this form, as any items not declared that should have been may be confiscated, or you may be required to pay a fine for not being truthful.
  • After leaving the plane, you will be led to the immigration lines to wait to speak to an immigration officer.
  • Once called, present him or her with your passport, customs declaration form, and/or visa. He or she may ask you basic questions pertaining to your travel to the host country as well as ask to see an acceptance letter from your study abroad program or host university.
  • He or she will stamp your passport, and you will proceed toward customs.
  • If you checked a bag, you will collect it before waiting in line to see a customs agent. He or she will ensure you have been truthful on your declarations form, and your luggage may be scanned.
  • Check with the customs and immigration department of your host country to know what is able to pass through customs before leaving.
  • After passing through customs, you have officially arrived in your host country!

If you will be abroad during a political election, including presidential, state, and local races, you will still be able to cast your vote. Follow the instructions below:

  • Go to Overseas Vote Foundation or Vote From Abroad.
  • On the Absentee Ballot Request, select "U.S. Citizen Residing Outside of the U.S. Temporarily and I Intend to Return."
  • You will need your overseas address to complete the request. If you do not know it yet, you can ask your study abroad program and/or international office if you can put their address.
  • Make sure to apply by September at the latest in order to receive the ballot in time.
  • Further details and instructions may vary depending on home state. State-specific instructions will be provided after applying for an absentee ballot.
  • For more information, visit U.S. Department of State – Absentee Voting
World Clock Graphic

Money Graphic
Last Updated: June 11, 2017