Taking Advantage of Student Trips

A little bit of planning can result in a big increase in security and satisfaction when it comes to student travel.

Here are some tips from experts on how to prepare for a student trip:

• Before you go, learn about the laws and customs of the countries you're visiting, especially those concerning drinking age, drugs and curfews. You are not immune to a country's laws just because you're a visitor.

• Tell your trip leaders about any medications you're taking. (Medication should be in the original containers and you should take the actual prescriptions with you when traveling overseas.)

• Play by the numbers. Give your parents the phone and fax numbers of your hotel, the cell phone numbers of the chaperones and a full itinerary of your trip. If anything changes, e-mail your parents immediately with the new info.

• Pack all valuables, medications, travel documents and passport in your carry-on bag. Occasionally, checked luggage gets lost at airports, so you want to have your important items on you.

• Do not carry all your cash at once. Keep your wallet in a zippered pocket, preferably inside your jacket. If you need to exchange money in a foreign country, only use authorized vendors such as banks.

• Don't be flashy. Wear an old, inexpensive watch and leave the bling at home. Don't make yourself a walking target for thieves. Avoid flaunting your digital camera or MP3 player.

• When you check in at your hotel, grab a card from the counter with the hotel's name, address and phone number on it. Keep this card on you at all times.

• Travel with a buddy at all times and never wander off alone from the group.

• If a charter flight is involved, check the operator's registration with the U.S. DOT's Special Authorities Division at (202) 366-1037. You will need your dates of travel, the name of the carrier and the charter operator's name, address and public charter number.

• Make sure your trip is designed and sponsored by a reputable travel firm.

For more information and additional tips for safe student travel, visit www.TravelSense.org.

Always travel with at least one other person and never wander off alone from the group.

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