Traveling With Students

Preparing to Take Students Abroad 

International faculty-led trips provide students with an indelible learning experience often described by participants as transformative.  Leading an international trip is a very generous offering on the part of a faculty member willing to share his or her scholarship with students.  Such trips involve supervisory responsibilities, time-consuming planning, logistics, and site assessment.  Preparation and support are key elements of safe and successful experiences, and relevant expertise is available to assist faculty planing trips abroad.  

Please contact our office for assistance with planning, logistical support, and risk mitigation.  Some important resources, reminders, and tips for faculty and academic managers planning trips abroad with students are found below.

Faculty who are planning international travel as part of a University course should be in touch with the Office of the Dean of the College at the early planning stages of their trip to ensure it is listed in the official course description in Course Offerings and on the class syllabus.

Key Resources 

  • Passport and Visa Considerations - Make it a priority early-on in your planning to learn how to obtain the appropriate documentation for travel, as well as important processing timelines to consider.
  • Faculty and Staff Travel Policies and Resources - Access guidance on allowable expenses, travel arrangements, credit card use, and reimbursements for University-sponsored international travel.
  • Princeton Travel and Expense - Find information about booking University-sponsored travel, as well as resources to help you manage University credit card charges or reimbursement requests.
  • Know Before You Go - Access important information regarding traveling with electronic devices, security regulations and Export Control considerations,  International SOS emergency assistance services, and more.

Pre-Departure Health and Safety Checklist

The Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs and Operations is available to connect you with important information, resources, and support and can guide you through all the steps for planning a safe and successful group trip abroad.

 Register Group Travel in Concur 

  • If you are traveling with a group from Princeton, the group leader or administrator must create a travel request for the group.
  • When the group leader or administrator completes the request, each of the travelers will receive an email informing them that a travel request has been created for them.
  • For guidance,  please see the instructions provided on the page linked above.

 Include University Health Services (UHS) 

  • Forward the list of participants to UHS by submitting a Online Group Trip Request or by contacting Global and Community Health Physician Dr. Irini Daskalaki at irinid@princeton.edu.
  • Students traveling to non-Western European destinations will receive individualized travel health advice from UHS via email.
  • Students can also arrange an in-person Travel Health Consultation with a travel heath provider at UHS to discuss chronic medical conditions, special diets, prescription medications and strategies for meeting their health needs when traveling internationally.
  • Consulting with UHS is essential, especially if traveling to an area where particular immunizations are needed.
  • Travel health consultations are also encouraged for students with health problems or concerns about traveling to any destination.
  • It’s highly recommended to invite UHS to participate in a pre-departure orientation with the students to discuss medical considerations and best practices for staying healthy during travel. 
  • To schedule a UHS presentation, please contact Dr. Irini Daskalaki at irinid@princeton.edu

 Prepare Travel Health Kits

  • Carrying a general medical/first aid kit has been very helpful for trip leaders in the past and is recommended for all groups going abroad. 
  • Travel health kits are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased at most pharmacies. 
  • For UHS recommendations on items to include your kit, please see the UHS Traveler's Health Kit page. Trip leaders can consult with UHS to learn if there are any special needs for students going on your trip or if there are items that would be especially useful to include in your kit.
  • Travel health kits are also available to rent through Outdoor Action.  For more information on renting a travel health kig, please contact Rick Curtis at rcurtis@princeton.edu

 Attend a CPR/Basic First Aid Training

  • It is recommended that at least one group leader should have CPR/basic first aid training as an extra safety-preparedness measure.
  • For information regarding upcoming training opportunities, please see Travel Health Resources.

 Collect Medical Profile Forms

  • Print the forms -2 copies per student - and distribute to all students going on the trip for completion prior to departure.
  • Students should fill the forms out confidentially and place into 2 sealed envelopes with their name and the word “confidential” on the front.
  • The trip leader should bring one set of sealed envelopes with them on the trip, and the second set should remain on-campus at the department. 
  • Keep all envelopes sealed and confidential, to be opened only in case of emergency.
  • Shred upon return.

 Prepare for Mitigating Travel Risks

  • INTERNATIONAL SOS 
    • Princeton contracts with International SOS to provide 24/7 worldwide emergency medical and evacuation services for eligible individuals traveling internationally on University-sponsored travel.  
    • Their services also include access to country-specific security and medical information, safety guidance, risk alerts, and more. 
    • Travelers can consult directly with International SOS for itinerary-specific pre-departure safety guidance anytime there are concerns about travel risk, if necessary. 
  • US DEPARTMENT OF STATE TRAVEL ADVISORIES
    • In January, 2018 the US Department of State (DOS) replaced the Travel Warning system with Travel Advisories, which are available for every country in the world. 
    • Within the DOS Travel Advisory you can access country information pages, recent alerts, annual crime and safety reports, and other important country-specific details such as entry and exit requirements, local laws and customs, health conditions, the address and phone number of the nearest US embassy or consulate, and more. 
  • SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP)
    • Travelers are also encouraged to register with Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), a free DOS service that allows US citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest US Embassy or Consulate. Benefits of enrolling in STEP:
      • Receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans.
      • Help the US Embassy contact you in an emergency -whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.
      • Help family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.
    • Non-US citizens are eligible to enroll in STEP to receive safety alerts, however, they should also register travel with their nearest Embassy or Consulate.

 Include Travel Safety Guidance in a Pre-Departure Orientation

  • The Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs and Operations (VPIAO) is available to present student-friendly pre-departure international travel safety presentations focused on informing and preparing students to mitigate risks while abroad.
  • Presentations can be customized according to your travel itinerary/plans to address country-specific risks, emergency protocols and procedures, as well as best practices for staying safe abroad.  
  • For more information or to schedule a presentation, please contact Erin Wolf, Associate Director, International Travel and Safety.

 Develop a Plan for Handling Emergencies Abroad

  • Establish a communication plan aimed at finding the simplest and fastest way to locate students and reach emergency assistance in the event of an incident or emergency abroad. 
  • Consider how all travelers (trip leaders and students) will be reachable in an emergency and develop an emergency action plan.
  • Collect important contact details ahead of time.
    • Trip leaders should carry these details with them at all times during travel.
    • A copy of these details should also be retained at the department on-campus.
  • Discuss International SOS emergency assistance services, safety/security considerations, and best practices for staying safe while abroad with students prior to departure. 

 Distribute Emergency Contact Cards 

  • Providing 24/7 emergency contact details on a simple wallet-sized card is a great way to ensure students have the critical phone numbers they’ll need in an emergency.
  • Emergency cards should include contact numbers for local partners, emergency response services, recommended hospitals, International SOS, and other details that may be useful in an emergency.
  • Travelers should carry these cards with them at all times during travel (it's also a good idea to take a photo of the card for accessibility by phone or email).
  • It is recommended to hand out emergency cards as the group departs (i.e., on the bus to the airport) instead of during class.  This way students are less likely to leave the card behind.
  • For an emergency card template, please contact Erin Wolf, Associate Director, International Travel and Safety.

 Discuss Communication Expectations

  • Have a conversation with students regarding cellular coverage and internet accessibility during the trip, as well as mobile phone recommendations (e.g., guidance on using local SIM cards, international calling plans, purchasing local phones upon arrival, etc.)
  • Advise students to let their family and friends know how often they plan to communicate with them while abroad (do they plan to maintain a blog post, daily social media updates, go totally off the grid...?)  Setting clear expectations ahead of time can reduce or prevent unnecessary anxiety when students do not communicate as often as they would in the US.
  • Students should also discuss with family and friends how they can be reached in an emergency.

  Develop Guidance and Guidelines for Students

  • Provide students with guidance on what to pack (and generally packing light), how much spending money to bring, cultural norms to consider, etc.  While every leader takes a slightly different approach to preparing students for travel, it's been found that developing a simple handout and reviewing it together with students works well.
  • Discuss expectations regarding student behavior abroad.
  • The Office of International Programs' 2017-18 Handbook for Faculty-led Study Abroad Programs is a resource designed for faculty leading longer-term or credit-bearing programs abroad, however, many group leaders taking short-term trips abroad have found it helpful when preparing for their trips - especially Section VI, which includes Safety and Crisis Management

 Attend a Faculty Leader Training

  • Take advantage of opportunities here at Princeton to familiarize yourself with University policies and protocols, emergency procedures, health and safety considerations, and more.

Trip Leader Responsibilities

  • It is recommended that group trips have an 8 to 1 student/Princeton faculty (or adult) ratio. 
  • It is recommended as a general best practice to have 2 Princeton faculty/staff trip leaders (when possible, 1 female/1 male).  Co-leaders can be additional faculty members, graduate students, and/or Princeton-nominated adults.  For more information, please contact our office
  • Trip leaders are responsible for the health and safety of the group at all times for the duration of the program.  For this reason, trip leaders should not travel independently of the group overnight and should plan to be with the students for the full duration of the program. At all times, the trip leaders must:
    • Carry a mobile phone (or satellite phone, if necessary)
    • Be prepared to communicate with International SOS, Princeton Public Safety, on-site partners, their department on-campus, or others in the event of an emergency.
  • If there are two trip leaders and one must travel independently from the group for a day or overnight, be certain that the remaining trip leader is prepared to take charge of the program and provide for the health and safety of all participants.
  • Ensure that the trip departure and arrival dates comply with ODOC guidelines and do not conflict with or encroach on existing curricular activities during term time or exam periods. It is not permitted for fall or spring break trips to leave early before the end of the term (ex. Thursday or Friday during the day).
  • Be sure to consider whether any special accommodations are necessary for students who may not be able to travel on particular days due to religious observances. Adjustments to accommodate such students could incur additional costs (e.g., adjusting flights/hotels), as well as impact the student's ability to attend program activities.