For Global Travelers

Useful Travel Information

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Topics covered on this page:

Research Your Intended Destination
Using a Cell Phone Abroad
Learn the USF 24/7 International Assistance Number and Email
Airport and Flight Recommendations
Managing Money Abroad
Using Converters and Adaptors
Passports
Visas

Research your intended destination

Whether you have traveled to your intended destination 100 times or never before, it is a best practice to review the local news, cultural customs, geography, and geo-political issues before you depart. You will want to familiarize yourself with your destination, learn how to stay safe while abroad, and know how to protect your health. The U.S. Department of State, U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and GoinGlobal are three resources that you will find extremely useful when planning your trip abroad.

U.S. Department of State | The U.S. Department of State has a wealth of information including such things as passports, country profiles, and current travel alerts & warnings. Within the country profiles there are sections on: embassies and consulates; destination description; entry, exit & visa requirements; safety and security; local laws & special circumstances; health; and travel & transportation.

  • Download the Smart Traveler App from Google Play or the iPhone Store. It will give you quick access to the phone numbers and addresses of the U.S. embassy and consular offices for the country(s) you will visit as well as alerts, warnings, and more.

United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office | This United Kingdom website offers much the same information as does the U.S. Department of State but from the UK's perspective. It also offers interactive resources for travel and living abroad by region and country.

GoinGlobal County and City Guides | Country and city guides are accessible once logged in through USF's unique link and select the "Career Guide" option. Critical information for traveling abroad is located in the "Cultural Advice" portion of each selected country's Career Guide under the "Living There" section.  Each country or city guide contains helpful information for navigating a city or specific region of a country and includes sections on local history, culture, cuisine, key language phrases and pronunciation, local financial customs, expense calculations, and entertaining “Acting Like a Local” advice. Also included are embassy contacts in each country and a list of professional networking organizations.

World Weather Reports | A service of the World Meteorological Service, this site presents official weather information for over 1,700 cities. Forecasts are supplied by the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services of participating countries which make official weather observations in their respective nations. Search by named city or country, or click on a location on the map.

Using a Cell Phone Abroad

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Plan to have a cell phone while overseas, whether you use your own or buy an inexpensive one in-country. Make sure your personal cell phone is activated for international long distance or that you purchase a phone in-country that has international service. Sometimes you can simply call your phone company to activate global coverage. You may need to unlock your phone and buy a sim card. Or, you may just want to wait and purchase a disposable phone when you get into the country.

Click for more international communication tips:

  • Call your cell company to determine costs and chose a rate plan that works for your needs. It’s very important to understand roaming charges.
  • Confirm the service fees of using your data package(s) overseas. If you’re uncertain, consider turning off your data package while abroad and use WiFi instead. Text and email messages can be very expensive if you’re using your data package.
  • If your phone is “unlocked” for international use then you may be able to purchase a local SIM card in your destination country for inexpensive local use and avoid roaming charges completely.
  • If you have an iPhone, unlocking the phone may void the warranty. Please confirm this with your carrier.
  • Even though there are many companies advertising SIM cards for use in Europe for sale here in the U.S., consider buying your local SIM card in your destination country. This will ensure you have access to assistance should you encounter any difficulty.
  • Always test your phone the first day in-country by making an international call and then receiving an international call.

Learn the USF 24/7 International Assistance Number and Email

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The safety of all USF international business travelers is of the upmost importance to USF World. Therefore, USF World has established a 24/7 International Assistance Line at +1 (813) 317-5815 and an Emergency Assistance Email at EAassist@usf.edu. The 24/7 International Assistance Line can be called direct or collect at any time of day or night. It will be answered by the international risk and security officer, or his/her delegate, who will listen to your question or concern and liaise with an available services, when appropriate.

  • Program the USF 24/7 International Assistance Line at +1 (813) 317-5815 into your phone.
  • Program the Emergency Assistance Email into your phone and/or make a hard copy of this information: EAassist@usf.edu. This email is also monitored after hours and on the weekend. But for immediate service, always call the 24/7 phone number.

Airport and Flight Recommendations

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Airports are more crowded and busier than ever. It is useful to gather information about your connecting and destination airports before you leave. Be prepared for flight delays and other unfortunate situations such as missing a flight or lost baggage.

  • Use luggage tags with a flap and secure luggage, if permitted, with a TSA-approved lock and a strong baggage strap. Carry extra TSA-approved locks as some countries may still cut locks to inspect baggage.
  • Always carry-on medications, fragile items, and other necessities that you cannot afford to lose should your luggage not arrive as expected.
  • When it comes to traveling with liquids in your carry-on, remember the 3/1/1 rule for carry-on bags (3.4 ounce bottle or less; 1 quart-size Ziploc bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin).
  • Remember that all medications, whether they be prescription, over the counter, or simply vitamins, should be in their original containers. TSA generally questions anything that resembles medicine that is not labeled properly and without the proper documentation.

Useful online travel links and downloads:

Managing Money Abroad

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Before departure, contact your financial institution(s) to let them know that you will be travelling abroad. Your bank may freeze your account if they are unaware of your travels. Not all bank or credit cards work in every country or at every ATM. Ask your bank if they can identify locations for ATMs that accept your debit cards ahead of time. 

Take time to budget your expenses abroad. The buying power of any country's currency is always updated and should be reviewed. One such guide to help you understand purchasing power is the Big Mac Index. Though a seemingly silly idea, comparing the cost of a Big Mac in different countries can give you a benchmark to plan for your daily expenses. 

To learn more about the local currency and exchange rates of your destination, visit: www.xe.com or www.oanda.com.

Using Converters and Adaptors

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There are currently 15 types of electrical outlet plugs in use today, each of which has been assigned a letter by the U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration (ITA), starting with A and moving through the alphabet. These letters are completely arbitrary; they don’t actually mandate anything. There are also different voltages and frequencies used in different countries. What does all this mean? It means you may need an adapter and /or a converter to be able to charge your phone or use your hair dryer abroad.

Adapters do not change the voltage coming out of a wall. It adapts your U.S. plug to fit into one of the various socket configurations around the world (see below). Grounded adapters have three posts, non-grounded adapters have only two. Obviously, a grounded plug is safer, but you might not be able to plug it in if you are staying at an older hotel or B&B.

Converters change the voltage; they step up or down the voltage. Converters should be used only with “electric” products that are simple heating devices, use little power or have mechanical motors. Examples are cell phone or laptop power supplies, hair dryers, steam irons, shavers, toothbrushes, or small fans. Converters are not designed for “continuous duty” and should only be used for short periods of time (1 to 2 hours). Additionally, most converters can only be used for ungrounded appliances (2 pins on the plug). Converters must be unplugged from the wall when not in use.

Click here for a global map showing the spread of the different plug types used around the world.

Click here for a detailed list of the countries of the world with their respective plug and outlet types, voltage, and frequency.

This information is provided by http://www.worldstandards.eu/electricity/plugs-and-sockets/.

Passports

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Applying for a U.S. passport takes up to 8 weeks if you do not have a current one. Visit the link at travel.state.gov for information on how to apply for a passport. If you already have a passport, it must be valid according to your intended destination. To view passport validity requirements for your destination(s), you need to visit the country information sheet at travel.state.gov and look up the destination country. For example, for any travel to France, U.S. passports must be valid for at least three months beyond your planned date of departure from the Schengen area.

In addition to passport validity, make sure that your passport has enough blank pages, and always bring a copy of the picture page of your passport and a copy of the visa page(s) when traveling. Also, leave a copy at home in a safe place.

For Non-U.S. Citizens, countries have different requirements for passport validity based upon your country of citizenship.  All non-US citizens must determine the passport validity requirements for the country they are going to. Please check with USF International Services if you have any questions.  

Visas

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Not all international locations require a visa to enter the country. And if you are not a U.S. citizen, visa requirements can be very different for you than for a U.S. citizen.

For U.S. citizens to find out if a visa is required for a particular destination, visit travel.state.gov. A visa is an entry/residency permit granted by the authorities of a country. A visa allows you to enter and remain in that country. You will need a passport prior to applying for a visa. Applying for a visa can be a very long and complicated process. It is much more difficult than applying for a passport. Whether or not you need a visa depends on your citizenship and where you are traveling. You can apply for a visa through the particular country's Embassy/Consulate. A visit to an Embassy/Consulate may be required in-person to apply for a visa. To find the appropriate Embassy/Consulate for your destination country, visit http://embassy.goabroad.com/.

All Non-U.S citizens will need to check with Consulates or the Embassy of your international destination to see if a visa is required for you. International students studying on a visa at USF must initiate an E-Form in iStart well before departing the U.S. You can initiate an E-Form in iStart by following this link. If you have questions about this process you may make an appointment on the USF International Services website.