Fellowships Advising & Study Abroad

General Information on Study and Travel Abroad

See also the information on Work Abroad.

Lost or Stolen Passports

For lost or stolen passports, please contact the nearest consulate for specific instructions and procedures immediately: List of U.S. Embassies, Consulates, and Diplomatic Missions. Procedures vary from country to country and may involve filing police reports and other paperwork. Always keep a copy of your passport separately and leave another copy at home!

General Travel Information

The Fellowships Advising and Study Abroad Office has an extensive library on study abroad and travel opportunities worldwide with up-to-date books on many countries and destinations.

Caltech and the Caltech Fellowships Advising and Study Abroad Office neither recommends nor endorses any of the following information and commercial providers. Please verify any information provided below prior to travel. We do not guarantee any service, and we have no affiliation with any commercial service listed below.

Travel Links

  • U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs - Subdivision of the Department of State whose mission is "... to protect the lives and interests of American citizens overseas and to strengthen U.S. border security." Site includes passport information, travel warnings, embassy registration information, and more.
  • Travel.About.Com - Individual articles on travel; produced as a subsidiary of the New York Times Company.
  • Trip Advisor - provides recommendations and some booking facilities for lodging (mainly hotels and higher), travel and vacation packages, travel guides and reviews on many attractions and facilities. Provides an online forum for discussion and questions.
  • Lonely Planet - Publisher of wide range of travel books; has online forums and guides to travel destinations.
  • Rick Steves - Wide range of travel information geared more for travelers than students staying in a particular place for a longer period of time.
  • Fodors - Primarily focused on hotels and restaurants; provides some destination guides.
  • Design Sponge - Online guides for a large number of cities that feature restaurants, places to stay, area must-see sights, shopping, and more.
  • Wikitravel.org - Free community created worldwide travel guides. This site is self-moderating, so verify any information gathered from it.
  • Schengen Agreement - Information for U.S. travellers to Schengen agreement nations provided here. This information is relevant only for U.S. citizens. From Wikipedia, "The 1985 Schengen Agreement is an agreement among European states which allows for the abolition of systematic border controls between the participating countries. It also includes provisions on common policy on the temporary entry of persons (including the Schengen Visa), the harmonization of external border controls and cross-border police cooperation."
  • XE.com - World currency converter. Also has historical data for figuring out how much your friends owe you for that meal two months ago.
  • ASIRT.org - Association for Safe International Road Travel. This page has links to explanations of the road signs used worldwide.
  • InsureMyTrip.com - Fast comparison site for traveler's insurance.
  • BiddingForTravel.com - Information on maximizing utility from sites that use bidding processes.
  • Weekend Student Adventures - Weekend Itineraries and Information for European travel
  • Link Directories
  • Backpack Europe
  • In Scotland, a Toast to High Spirits
  • Using credit cards abroad: Advice on Using Credit Cards While Traveling Abroad (New York Times)
  • TravelMath - Information on various logistical questions encountered in planning a trip, including timing, travel distances, airport information, and travel cost calculation.

Printed Publications

  • National Geographic publishes a magazine called "National Geographic Traveler" designed with travellers in mind.
  • Budget Travel - Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel magazine; offering travel guides, travel tips, and advice on trip planning, restaurant recommendations, city guides.
  • Conde Nast Traveler - Travel ideas, competitions, and guides.
  • Verge Magazine - Opportunities to study, work, and volunteer abroad.
  • Many major newspapers provide online travel sections and newsletters that can sometimes be of great use to the student traveler; access to back issue articles may require a small fee.

Online Travel Newsletters and Blogs

  • AndySteves.com - Andy Steves runs a collaborative student resource for the traveling student abroad featuring economical lodging, activites, and the major sights of many destinations.

Travel Articles

Top Tips for Traveling Abroad

From the U.S. Department of State (link) :

  1. Make sure you have a signed, valid passport and visas, if required. Also, before you go, fill in the emergency information page of your passport!
  2. Read the Consular Information Sheets (and Public Announcements or Travel Warnings, if applicable) for the countries you plan to visit.
  3. Familiarize yourself with local laws and customs of the countries to which you are traveling. Remember, the U.S. Constitution does not follow you! While in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws.
  4. Make 2 copies of your passport identification page. This will facilitate replacement if your passport is lost or stolen. Leave one copy at home with friends or relatives. Carry the other with you in a separate place from your passport.
  5. Leave a copy of your itinerary with family or friends at home so that you can be contacted in case of an emergency. Keep your host program informed of your whereabouts.
  6. Do not leave your luggage unattended in public areas. Do not accept packages from strangers.
  7. Prior to your departure, you should register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate through the State Department's travel registration website . Registration will make your presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an emergency.
  8. To avoid being a target of crime, try not to wear conspicuous clothing and expensive jewelry and do not carry excessive amounts of money or unnecessary credit cards.
  9. In order to avoid violating local laws, deal only with authorized agents when you exchange money or purchase art or antiques.
  10. If you get into trouble, contact the nearest U.S. embassy.
  11. Make sure you have insurance that will cover your emergency medical needs (including medical evacuation) while you are overseas.
  12. While abroad, avoid using illicit drugs or drinking excessive amounts of alcoholic beverages, and associating with people who do.
  13. When overseas, avoid demonstrations and other situations that may become unruly or where anti-American sentiments may be expressed.

Preparation and Logistics

U.S. citizens should visit the U.S. Department of State website to obtain the most accurate and up to date information on passports. Non-U.S. citizens should consult their home government for information on passports. If you are travelling with a Caltech-arranged program, direct any questions about paperwork to the Fellowships Advising and Study Abroad Office. If you are travelling independently, verify far in advance that you will have all necessary visas for your travel; your travel agent may or may not assist with those issues.

The U.S. Department of State provides a registry of its embassies, consulates, and diplomatic missions abroad.

Entry to foreign countries may be made more smooth by producing proof of travel plans showing the intent to leave at the end of your stay. Some countries may also require demonstration of financial wherewithal; simply showing current credit cards may suffice in some situations, but in other cases it may be necessary to show a current bank statement demonstrating the availability of funds.

International phone calls can be difficult. See CountryCodes.com for more information on this.

Itinerary Management and Planning

Several companies have products that allow you to automatically (via confirmation message processing or direct booking) and manually store together your booking information. Both paid and free packages exist with varying options. In no particular order, a subset is as follows:

TravelMath is a website that promises to provide information on various logistical questions encountered in planning a trip, including timing, travel distances, airport information, and travel cost calculation.

Financial Tips

Prior to departing the United States, several steps may be taken to prevent financial difficulties abroad.

  • Contact your credit card agencies and banks to inform them of your intent to travel abroad and the planned location and duration of your travels. Fraud departments at these companies actively monitor credit card activity for unusual actions including purchases abroad; even with this notification they may still freeze your card until you communicate directly to state that you are travelling abroad.
  • Ensure that any ATM cards are accessible on the international networks and are not limited to the United States. In many cases this will not be an issue. If you have a very long PIN, verify that the ATM's abroad will be able to accept it.
  • Prepare for arrival in your destination country by exchanging an initial amount of currency prior to departure. This will negate the need to delay activity upon arrival and may help with any transportation or other fees at the destination.
  • Investigate the opportunity to have online banking made available for your accounts to manage funds while abroad. If you access your funds from abroad, take care to access sensitive financial material only from computers that you trust.
  • Do not rely on the ability to open a bank account in foreign countries; this may be extremely difficult or in some cases impossible.
  • ATM availability may vary widely even from town to town; prepare for this prior to travel.
  • Banks vary widely in the fees charged for transactions made in foreign currencies. See Don't Get Fleeced by Fees on Vacation from the Motley Fool (29 May 2007). If you plan to make credit purchases abroad, consider finding a bank or credit union that offers low fees.
  • Credit cards offer more protection for both lost/stolen cards and for disputed transactions than debit cards do. See The Best Cards for Summer Travel (May 30, 2007) from SmartMoney.com
  • Cash Cards are also an option - these are prepaid cards that can act as debit, credit, and ATM cards (details vary).
  • Investigate value-added taxes (VAT) and goods and services taxes (GST) information - you may be able to recuperate the tax upon departure if you follow procedures at purchase time. See Value-Added Tax Refunds from RickSteves.com for an introduction to the process.
  • Using credit cards abroad: Advice on Using Credit Cards While Traveling Abroad (New York Times)

Day to Day Preparations

  • Stationery can be extremely expensive overseas; the formatting of paper sizes also typically differs. Many other countries use the A4 standard instead of the US Letter standard. Bring any pen, paper, and other supplies that you might want to use.
  • Electrical adapters: many laptop and other portable electronic devices work on international electrical systems and require only physical adapters to connect to the plugs. Use of some devices may require a voltage converter. See World Electric Power Guide for an introduction to the concepts and the relevant table of systems. Power strips may not function on the international system because of voltage and frequency differences.
  • If you intend to use a bicycle abroad, consider shipping your own bicycle or bringing your own helmet and locks to prevent spending the money unnecessarily overseas.
  • Clothing availability and sizings may vary internationally. Plan to bring everything that you will need.
  • Making international phone calls can be tricky. See CountryCodes.com for more information on this. Other computer based Voice Over IP (VOIP) solutions are also useful: Skype and Gmail (Hangouts) permit internet based phone calls and are two of many options.

Medical Preparations

  • In many cases it is simplest to bring a sufficient supply of any medications you may need for the duration of your trip. Medications available overseas may differ from those found in the U.S.
  • It may be useful to have a formal statement of medical insurance on insurance company letterhead for travels abroad. Keep all records of any out-of-pocket expenditures for possible reimbursement upon return to the United States. Check with your insurance provider to determine foreign coverage.
  • Overseas and Under the Weather (March 2007, Conde Nast Traveler)- "How to find competent medical care when you're far from home?"
  • Centers for Disease Control Traveler's Health - Information on destinations, outbreaks, travel vaccinations, and links to traveler's medical clinic information.

Student Travel Concerns

If you have any questions or concerns about Visa applications and other formalities about your study abroad experience, please contact the Fellowships Advising and Study Abroad Office.

Student Travel to the United Kingdom

The British Consulate-General, Los Angeles is located at 11766 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1200, Los Angeles, California 90025-6538 and can be contacted at (310) 481-0031. Please visit the UKVisas website for information on the necessity of travel visas and other documentation for travellers to the United Kingdom. U.S. citizen students travelling to the United Kingdom from the U.S. for a period of six months or less do not need a visa at this time. Students visiting the U.K. for more than six months will require a visa. Please visit the website of the Consulate-General to verify all particular entry and visit requirements.

The U.S. Embassy in London is located at 55/56 Upper Brook Street, London, W1A 2LQ and can be contacted at [44] (20) 7499-9000 for both regular inquiries and emergencies.

The U.S. Consulate General in Edinburgh is located at 3 Regent Terrace, Edinburgh EH7 5BW and can be contacted at [44] (0)131 556 8315; however, the American Citizen Services are provided primarily at the London Embassy.

Student Travel to Denmark

The Royal Danish Consulate in Los Angeles is located at 5849 Uplander Way, Culver City, CA 90230, and can be contacted at (310) 645-0540. At the time of writing, visas for Denmark are being handled by the Danish Consulate General in New York and can be contacted by phone at (212) 223 4545. Denmark is part of the Schengen agreement; U.S. citizens do not need a visa for a total visit duration less than 90 days.

The U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen is located at Dag Hammarskjölds Allé 24
2100 København Ø., near Østerport train station. Please see the Embassy's website for contact information; for emergencies call +45 3341 7100 during normal business hours and +45 3341 7400 after hours.

Lodging

Short Term Lodging Options

Hostels, hotels, and home stays are the options in this category, apart from crashing on the couch of a stranger in a foreign country; the latter option is not typically recommended.

  • Backpack Europe - Information on and bookings for hotels, hostels, camping, and other opportunities.
  • Hostel Bookers - No booking fees for hostels.
  • Hostels.com - Prices are similar or less than walking in. Provides reviews by previous guests.
  • Hostel World - Hostel bookings and links to city guides, pubs, clubs, podcasts.
  • Bed and Breakfasts UK - U.K. bed and breakfasts and travel guides.
  • STA Travel
  • AllStays.com - Information on and bookings for hostels and other lodging.

Longer Term Lodging Options

Short term apartment rental for stays of one month or more in duration.

  • Investigate regional physical and online bulletin boards. Craigslist has some international listings. Check any local universities for online postings as well as local newspapers and other community sites.
  • Universities may allow you to rent their excess housing to you for longer durations.
  • The Let's Go travel guides contain some information relevant to longer stays.
  • International Home Exchange Network - Listings and arrangements for exchanging lodging with other individuals. Also has rental listings.

Travel

Air Travel

Domestic and International Travel

Sites are designated with an asterisk (*) if they combine one-way fares on different airlines into a round trip and with a plus sign (+) if they can search a wide range of departure and return dates for those flexible with travel dates. Please note: it is important to discern whether, when using sites that combine flight on different airlines, if you will be protected if one flight is delayed when connecting flights are involved. Such information should be noted on the website of the booking site.

  • AirGorilla - Discount airfare, cars, and hotels.
  • CheapAir.com
  • CheapTickets.com +
  • Expedia *
  • Hotwire
  • Orbitz +
  • Travelocity * +
  • FareCompare
  • Student Universe - Cheap fares for college students and faculty for flights in the US or US/Abroad.
  • SkyScanner - US to Europe or within Europe. Monitors when prices are low on a particular route.
  • Microsoft Farecast - compare, filter, and sort flight information. Predicts flight prices for select US, Europe, and Mexico flights.
  • FlyCheapo - Comprehensive list of budget and discount airlines and routes.
  • STA Travel - All-around travel agent; travel to Europe and has good airfare and airfare/hotel package rates. Sometimes offers flexible student-oriented tickets.
  • Kayak - Flights and Hotels, domestic and international.
  • WhichBudget and AirNinja - Show which airlines fly to and from individual cities.
  • SeatExpert - Detailed airplane seat map information for many airlines.
  • SeatGuru - Particular arrangement and facilities in seats varies by airplane and air carrier; SeatGuru maintains information on many domestic and international carriers.
  • ITA Software - Assists in itinerary planning but does not offer tickets for sale directly. Clearly states complex flight plans and benefits and drawbacks to particular itineraries; allows sorting by many criteria.
  • Tom Parsons' Best Fares - Bestfares.com is a discount travel website that monitors airfares and reports on bargain hotel rates, cheap car rentals, inexpensive last-minute vacations, and travel news.
  • Wikipedia's List of low cost airlines

Travel within Europe

Be aware that some low cost European airlines fly only into less-used airports outside of the city center; in some cases arriving even in different countries than the city for which the airport is named. Transportation costs to the city center should be factored in when flying using budget carriers.

  • easyJet - Low cost European airline.
  • RyanAir - Low cost European airline.
  • Europe By Air - Purchase one way flights in Europe for $99, regardless of the destination. Wide range of connection opportunities. Best serves travellers making large hops across the continent, such as Dubrovnik, Croatia to Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
  • BMI (British Midland Airlines) - While not a discount airline, by booking far enough in advance very good deals are available for flights in the UK and form the UK to/from Europe.

Budget Airlines to or in Asia

The following airlines provide service to Asia or inside of Asia.

Skynet and AirDo do not have a ticket ordering system in English - only one in Japanese.

Rail Travel

United Kingdom

  • National Rail - Official source for U.K. rail information, timetables, and fares
  • BritRail - Rail tickets and passes for extended travel, boats, tours, and some busses.
  • STA Travel - Offers rail travel in the U.K.
  • Transport for London - Official site for the London Tube, Docklands Light Rail (DLR), London buses, and trams. Individuals staying in London for an extended period should check out the Oyster Card. The Oyster card provides a fast, convenient, and less expensive method of using the TFL system.

Europe

Bus Travel

Bus travel is very cheap compared to trains when abroad. It can be cheaper and more convenient (with fewer or no luggage restrictions) than budget airlines. Many such budget buses have a hop-on and hop-off option so you can get off and see things and break your travel as you wish.

Check out the following bus travel options around the world!

United Kingdom


Fellowships Advising & Study Abroad | Mailcode 319-87 | Pasadena, CA 91125