Always review your routine (childhood) vaccination record.
If you are going to Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Antarctica - No special vaccinations are typically needed.
If you have an existing medical condition, see your regular doctor to plan for your time abroad.
If you are going to the Caribbean, Mexico, Central or South America, Africa, Asia - consult with recommendations listed on the CDC.gov website under "Travelers' Health".
If possible, take enough medication to last the entire program duration. Take an original written prescription, preferably written for a generic version of your medication. Prescription medications MUST remain in the original containers with your name on it. If you wear glasses or contacts, take along a spare pair and take your lens prescription with you. If you take a controlled substance, take more than two medications, or take medication by injection, take a letter from your physician that describes your medical condition and the need to carry these items with you. Check with the local embassy to make sure that your medication is legal to carry into the country.
Carry your insurance information with you at all times. Students on ISU programs will have Chubb insurance automatically. Students on Affiliate Programs will have insurance through their program providers. Chubb coverage extends 14 days before and after the program dates.
You MUST take all prescriptions in your carry-on bag. Bring basic health/medical supplies in your checked bags (condoms, feminine supplies, etc.) Consider using compression socks for your flight. Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Be prepared for jet lag.
Continue to take any medications that you are currently on. Be aware of the consequences of combining alcohol and your medication. Research drinking water and the regulations for food preparation in your country. Watch for symptoms of culture shock. Avoid making big decisions until you have a chance to settle in. Get assistance if you are feeling depressed or withdrawn.
Iowa State encourages students to take responsibility for their own safety and well-being by carefully reading the information, advice, and resources provided, including the following websites:
Students should also do the following:
- Blend in
- Use the buddy system
- Use a neck pouch or money belt
- Carry your insurance card
- Know the local equivalent of 911 for your location
- Store an ICE (In Case of Emergency) number on your cell phone so that emergency/medical personnel can contact your family
- Register with the U.S. State Department through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program
- List current emergency contact information in ISUAbroad
Special Safety Note:
The major cause of student injury or death in overseas programs is traffic accidents. According to the U.S. State Department, road travel is the greatest risk to healthy Americans abroad. This does not refer to driving but as a pedestrian. Learn as much as you can about road signs, customs, and driving behaviors in all locations you plan to travel to. Most importantly, be very aware of all traffic around you at all times (including mopeds!).
Getting ready for your adventure abroad involves many moving parts. This section contains information that will be useful in the practical, planning stage of your trip.
Wondering if you need a credit card and if you need a bank account abroad? Tips for managing your funds while abroad: Money matters
Above all else – pack light! How to pack light, while making certain to bring essential items, like medication: Packing
Do you know the best day to buy your plane tickets? What about the best route to take? Find out more here: Travel
Getting used to your new home away from home will take a little time (as will being back home, once you are done.) Find out tips to minimize homesickness and become immersed in your new environment more quickly: Cultural adjustment
Do you have your passport? Passports are a required item for any study/volunteer/intern experience outside of the United States: How to apply for a passport