Helpful Hints for Travelers
Before you start packing, it is best to be informed about various aspects of study abroad, especially if this is your first time traveling. Doing your homework before you leave is the best way to take full advantage of your experience, and to ensure that you have a safe trip.
If you have not already obtained a passport from the Post Office nearest your place of residence, you should do so immediately. You must present a completed application, 2 passport photos, and payment for the total fees of $135. Applications are available at the Post Office or online. The Spartanburg Post Office is located at 250 S. Church St., (864) 585-0301 (Passports/Claims).
If your passport will be valid for less than six months after your return date, you should have it renewed. Passports can be renewed by mail or at the Post Office.
Please remember to sign your passport. Do not alter it in any way! Carry with you at all times. Separate from your passport, please carry a photocopy of your photo page, showing your signature, your photo, and your passport number. Create an emergency "lost passport kit" to keep separate from your actual passport that includes 2 U.S. produced passport photos, a certified copy of your birth certificate (which you can shrink to wallet size), and a copy of the photo page of your passport. It is also a good idea to leave copies of your passport at home with your parents/guardians while traveling.
For complete information concerning passports, applications, fees, or to download an application, click here.
For entry information concerning passports, visas, and immunizations for your host country, click here.
Most foreign countries require that U.S. students studying abroad for more than ninety days obtain a student visa before departure from the U.S. You should apply for your student visa at the foreign Consulate with jurisdiction over your place of residence. All students are responsible for obtaining the required travel documents, e.g., passport, visa, etc. While your study abroad organization will provide you with the appropriate documentation to obtain the visa, you are responsible for requesting the application forms from the appropriate consulate (see below).
Please keep the following in mind when applying for a visa:
1. Your program will let you know if you need a visa (a permit to live and study in a country, which is stamped in your passport). Read carefully any information which you have received from the Study Abroad consortium. You will be provided with a list of consulates and other important information.
2. You must request the visa application forms from the Consulate which has jurisdiction over your home state (read carefully the materials sent by the Study Abroad consortium). Your best bet is to do so in writing. Many consulates will not answer the phone or they will put you on hold for long periods of time. Write to the Consulate, explain to them that you would like application forms for a multiple-entry visa to STUDY in the country in question and tell them the dates of your program. You should write to the Consulate and petition to be permitted to submit your application by mail rather than in person. Also ask them for a list of the documents and fees which they require for you to obtain the visa. Then enclose a large stamped-self addressed envelope for them to be able to mail the application forms to you.
3. When you receive this mailing from the Consulate you can begin the process of applying for the visa. Keep in mind how long it takes to receive the visa (the Study Abroad organization will tell you). Do not apply too early because your visa will expire before you go. Do not apply too late because you will not receive your visa (and passport) back in time for your departure date.
4. Be sure to compile all of the pertinent documents and be aware that you may need to gather some documents or signatures from home. Each visa application requires different documents, so be sure to read all of the information provided by your organization and the consulate carefully.
- If you need anything from the Office of International Programs at Wofford, please let us know in a timely manner.
- Your program will provide you with a document that proves you have been accepted by the foreign university.
- You may need a letter from your physician stating that you are in good health, so you may need to make an appointment to visit your doctor or Health Services.
- You may need to provide proof of insurance or other important documents such as financial statements that your parents can supply.
- There is typically a fee that must be paid by money order which can be obtained from the post office or many grocery/convenience. Generally personal checks are not accepted.
- Make copies of all documents before you send them to the consulate.
5. When you have completed all the documents required by the Consulate, mail everything with your passport and a pre-paid, stamped, self-addressed envelope. Remember that your passport is a very important document that you should be able to track at all times. Use an express mail service that can be tracked, but be sure to keep copies of everything you send the Consulate (including the photo page of your passport). Explain to the carrier that you must also include a pre-paid, self-addressed express envelope with the application and documents so that the consulate can return your passport safely to you. (Therefore you are paying for two express services) Be sure to keep and identify both the tracking numbers so you can track the application and then your passport with your visa.
Transportation to and from a foreign country is at the students' expense. Students are free to take the transportation arranged independently or by their own travel agent. Shop around, compare prices, and confirm your program dates with the program before you book your flight. In addition, be aware that some commuting between your housing and your classes will be inevitable. Think of it as a cultural experience!
Students should check with the airline on which they are flying for specific size and weight limitations on baggage. All baggage, including those pieces you plan to carry on board, should be carefully labeled. Luggage on wheels or a little cart are a good idea, although most metro stations do not have elevators and you will have to carry your luggage up and down stairs. Be sure to keep your hand-luggage with you at all times and pack emergency supplies and a change of clothes just in case your checked luggage gets lost.
What to Bring
- comfortable, waterproof walking shoes
- a nice outfit
- clothes that do not need ironing
- 1-2 towels
- money belt
- electric transformer and adapter plugs (see Voltage Valet for further explanation)
- a small gift for your host family (examples: non-perishable foods native to your city or state, books about Wofford or your hometown or any other Wofford paraphernalia)
- 72 hours before flying, confirm your flight information.
- Identify luggage inside and outside with your name, business address and telephone number. Inside, include a copy of your itinerary.
- Check with your individual airline regarding baggage size and weight limitations as well as fees.
- Arrive at the airport 90 minutes before departure for a domestic flight, 120 minutes for an international flight.
- Have your passport accessible for check-in and security. Never pack it in your checked luggage!
- The TSA is explicitly limits passengers to one carry-on and a personal item. Airport Security Agents are searching for any sharp objects, lighters, etc. Check the TSA list for details.
- TSA agents search bags on a regular basis. Do not lock your luggage unless you use TSA-approved locks or plastic fasteners that can be cut and replaced by the airlines.
- Be prepared for additional screening for laptop computers, cell phones and other electronic devices.
- Pack your carry-on item as if the airline might misplace your checked luggage. Pack extra underwear, a shirt, important medication, etc. Pack prescription drugs in original containers with a copy of the prescription.
- If your luggage does get lost, report it immediately and don't leave the city of arrival until you have solved the missing luggage problem. Retrieving it later will be practically impossible otherwise. Do NOT relinquish your airline ticket under any circumstances.
- Toll-free number for the Transportation Security Administration to report anything lost or stolen: 866-289-9673.