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Checklist for Researcher Travel Abroad

Checklist for Researcher Travel Abroad

Preparing to travel for an international research project? Use this handy checklist to keep track of the many steps necessary to ensure a successful trip.

6-12 Months Before Leaving

  • Research the country you will be visiting by using the Worldcue Travel Planner.
  • Review vaccinations requirements for the region you will be staying.
  • Complete all compliance approval processes, e.g. Institutional Review Board (IRB), Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), Biosafety, Export Control, etc. Each campus and laboratory has designated Institutional Review Boards to implement the institution's human subjects policies.
  • Research funding sources.
  • Visit the Export Control page and contact your campus Export Control office.
  • Ensure your passport is up-to-date. Passport should be valid for 3 months beyond your date of return.

4-6 Months Before Leaving

  • Confirm your study site logistics and staffing.
  • Purchase air tickets. Work with your purchasing department to ensure you do this correctly, or log into UC Connexxus. Email if you have difficulty with Connexxus.
  • If you choose to book your trip by yourself, register your travel.
  • Obtain the appropriate visa by contacting the respective foreign embassy.
  • Research housing.
  • Join expat social media groups in your locality.
  • Schedule a consultation with your medical provider and campus occupational health office.
  • Contact your medical insurance provider. Determine what services they provide abroad and which medications you will need to pre-order.
  • Check U.S. Department of State Website for travel warnings and alerts and also enroll in U.S Department of State: Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
  • Determine Foreign Daily Per Diem Rates for destination.
  • Follow departmental protocol for absence from campus.

3 Months Before Leaving

  • Talk to your cell phone provider about international rates and research international service options. Think about accessories you will need for your electronic devices.
  • Contact your bank, credit card company, or other financial institutions that you are going overseas. Inform them of where you will be going so they won’t freeze your account. Get your PIN, discuss limits and fees, check ATM locations, and provide them your itinerary.

1 Month Before Leaving

  • Confirm your travel itinerary.
  • Confirm your housing arrangements. Communicate this information to your departmental staff.
  • Research basic living conditions, such as type of food eaten, water supply, and modes of transportation.
  • Compile and scan your travel documents, including passport, visas, travel insurance, state and university ID, emergency contact information, and immunization records. Store copies online, with a staff person, and a family member or friend. If you carry hard copies, carry them with you while traveling and store them in a safe place upon your arrival.
  • Review What to Pack and assemble a Travel Health Kit.
  • Become familiar with local dress standards, religious practices, customs, and codes of conduct.
  • Research the cultural etiquette for your destination at and
  • Purchase gifts for your hosts.
  • Research ATM access in your area, currency exchange information, and whether travelers checks are acceptable.
  • Download apps you may need on your mobile device, such as banking and travel apps.
  • Talk to your phone service to set up international service.

1 Week Before Leaving

  • Confirm travel arrangements. Check the bag limits on each leg of your trip.
  • Carry a small amount of cash. Note that exchange rates at the airport may be less favorable, so convert only what you need immediately. Some customs areas insist that you have local currency before leaving the airport.
  • Keep reserve US cash for your trip home.

Managing Study Groups Abroad

If you are leading a group of students or researchers, consider the following questions before leaving on the trip:

  • Do you have emergency contact and important health information for everyone you are responsible for?
  • Have you clearly outlined in writing what you expect of your students and research assistants?
  • Have you made arrangements with local collaborators and proper authorities so your research goes smoothly?
  • Will you need to collect medical information for the team traveling with you to be used in case of emergency? Review the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 to be sure you are protecting health information for you and any colleagues you are responsible for. Note: If you are collecting medical information for the study group, you must destroy the forms after the trip is over.
Last updated: 9 Dec 2016