All students traveling abroad for any amount of time need a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the planned date of return. It can take up to two months to obtain a passport, so apply early for new passports or renewals. Passport applications are processed in the Wellesley Post Office in the Village and at Wellesley Town Hall. More information about applying for a passport is available at www.travel.state.gov. Passport photos can be obtained at the Post Office or at CVS.
Many countries require visiting students to obtain a visa in addition to a valid passport. Visa requirements vary from country to country and are different depending on the student’s country of origin. To determine whether or not you need a visa, you may either contact your program provider or consult the relevant consulate. A list of consulates with contact information is available at https://www.state.gov/s/cpr/fco/. Some consulates require that you appear in person to submit your visa application, while others allow you to process the visa by mail or online. Allow time for any possibility. Check with the consulate where you will apply about their own application procedures (as this may vary by consulate, or by who is on duty when you call!). If you apply through the mail, keep a copy of all documents sent. It is safest to send and receive all materials via FedEx or another reliable courier service. Also, keep in mind that if you will travel through other countries on the way to your destination, you may need to obtain a visa to pass through that country. Check on this well before departure.
Many programs will require you to make your own travel arrangements. Student travel agencies such as STA Travel (617-576-4623 or www.statravel.com) and AESU (800-638-7640 or www.aesu.com) offer competitive prices as well as flexible ticketing (allowing students to utilize one-way fares, change return dates, and arrive and depart from different cities). You can also consult travel web sites such as www.expedia.com, www.priceline.com, www.kayak.com, www.studentuniverse.com, www.cheapflights.com or www.travelocity.com to compare prices. Most rail or airline passes must be purchased in the US prior to departure. For information on Eurail passes for train travel within continental Europe, call 800- 4EURAIL or see www.raileurope.com or STA Travel.
All students are advised to plan carefully for their arrival in the host country and city. Even if you are studying in a program that offers airport pickup, it is essential that you know what to do when you arrive, where to go and whom to contact in case of problem.
STA Airfare Deposit Program
If you are on financial aid and are concerned about paying upfront for your flight expenses, consider STA's Airfare Deposit Program. The program will allow you to pay a $49 deposit, which will guarantee your flight price and be applied toward the final cost of your airfare. The remaining balance of your flight is not due until 7 days before departure. Terms and conditions apply.
Student ID Card
Students may wish to purchase the International Student Identity Card (ISIC) prior to departure. This card carries supplemental health and travel insurance, is recognized worldwide and can be used to obtain student discounts in many destinations—on everything from travel, museums and theater to haircuts, meals and movies. The ISIC card can be purchased from STA Travel or other authorized agencies (see http://www.isic.org/ for details). The cost of the card is approximately $25.
If you plan to arrive prior to the start of your program or travel during breaks, check with students who have studied in your host country for recommendations, and ask your program provider or host institution for recommendations, as you will be unfamiliar with the area. It is difficult to gauge whether or not an area is safe based on descriptions from guidebooks and on-line reservation services.