by Jon Sender | Back to Guide
1. Make sure your regular immunizations are up to date, and that get the necessary additional ones required for entering your country. You can call your doctor’s office or a hospital to find out which ones apply. Additionally, schedule checkups with your physician, dentist, optometrist, and any other doctor you usually see at least once a year. Making sure you’re healthy before flying across the globe is imperative. If you wear glasses or contacts, you’ll want to make sure they’re up to date. Just think about how awful it could be to read a professor’s messy handwriting, in a foreign language, in a class you really don’t understand.
2. If you take prescription drugs, order a 6-month supply in advance because where you’re going, your drug might not exist, might be quite expensive, or may even be illegal. Go to the doctor and explain your situation, and then call your insurance company and ask for an “override” that will allow your pharmacist to dispense a vast quantity of your drug. Keep in mind, an override may not always be available, and you may need to be prepared to pay out of pocket.
3. Register with the US Embassy’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which will provide you with government updates should any unusual events unfold in your host country while you’re there.
4. Again, notify all credit and debit card companies of your travel plans ahead of time. I’m reiterating this because of how important it is. My mom once went to Italy, and even though she called ahead twice, the bank still managed to slip up and freeze her card!
5. Give your parent power of attorney (POA) for filing your taxes, especially if you’ll be gone before and on tax day, April 15. This requires signing a simple form before you leave, and then another simple counter-form after you return.
6. Register to vote absentee and send in your ballot early if you’ll be gone before and on election day. You wouldn’t want America to fall to pieces and elect the wrong candidate just because you chose not vote!
7. Back up your computer. If you don’t have an external drive, go out and get one, and then run the backup. You’ll want to bring this with you when you go away, in case anything goes wrong. If you’re taking a Mac with you, outside of Europe you might not find much support for it and will be on your own with any tech problems.
8. Finally, set up a connection to your home university’s VPN. You never know when it will come in handy to call home via Google Voice or stream an American sports network, especially if your team makes it to the playoffs or happens to be vying for a national championship. Oh, and you’ll definitely need that VPN to use Spotify if your host country isn’t supported! Israel, much to my dismay, was not.