This is our broad list of reminders leading up to
the departure for your project.
For more detailed information, click on the links within each section below.
If you have suggestions for other items, please
Three Months Before Leaving
Research the Country.
Check out information at our
For weather information, check out the
Washington Post Weather Database.
For aviation safety in your project country,
go to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
International Aviation Safety
Check disease precautions and required immunizations at the
Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
You may also want to check other resources listed on
Review your policies as well as
any coverage provided by the field organization.
Consider purchasing additional coverage.
Decide if anything needs to be shipped to your project location in advance.
Allow sufficient time for transportation.
Passport, Visas, and Customs.
Will your passport expire while you are abroad?
See our discussion of
Visas, and Customs.
One Month Before Leaving
Determine what gifts you may want to bring.
Become familiar with the
and prevailing exchange rates at your
Decide how much currency you'll need to exchange prior to departing.
For long projects,
you might consider setting up a basic bank account at a bank
of your destination country that has a branch in your home country.
Select travel guide books, maps, and language phrase books.
Consider their size and weight, and what you will really need on the trip.
any doctor, dentist, chiropractor, etc. visits prior to your trip.
Purchase sufficient supplies of
and non-prescription medications.
Retain copies of written prescriptions for as many medications as possible.
and related devices you may need.
International Driver's License.
If you are planning on driving,
an international driver's license will be useful.
Should I Drive?
for safety considerations).
International driver's licenses are typically issued
by an automotive association in your home country.
Automobile Association of America
(the “triple-A”) issues them to US drivers, and the
Canadian Automobile Association
(the CAA) issues them for Canadian drivers.
Replace the batteries and purchase fresh spare batteries for your
If your camera is new or you have not used it in a while,
shoot and develop a test roll of film.
to determine how to access their network from within your destination country.
They may be able to give you a local phone number from within your
destination country which will allow you to dial numbers in your
home country directly.
Also, check what service plans they have.
Many have “global” plans which provide
discounted rates using their network, for a small monthly fee.
Contact your ISP or on-line service and figure out the best way to handle
E-Mail and Internet access.
See The Home Front.
To keep in touch with our friends back home,
we compose a general E-Mail every two weeks or so and do a group mailing.
If you plan on having E-Mail access and will also have access to your
address book, you can assemble a “group” of E-Mail addresses so
you can just E-Mail to the “group.”
Note that some ISPs have limits on the number of recipients in a group
(50 addresses is a common limit).
You may need to create several groups.
say a few words
in the language of your destination country.
Even if they know your native language,
learning to at least say hello in their language is a great ice-breaker.
One Week Before Leaving
Change your car, house, and other insurance policies, if appropriate.
Make arrangements for newspapers,
and your mail, as necessary.
Embassy or Consulate Address.
Note the contact information for your home country's embassy or consulate
in your destination countries.
U.S. State Department Embassy List
links to this information for all
U.S. embassies, consulates, and missions in other countries.
Make up an itinerary with as many dates, names, addresses, and phone numbers
Leave it with some friends or family members,
so that they can contact you in case of emergency.
Make two copies of your important travel documents
(passport, visas, plane tickets, etc.)
as well as credit card numbers and travelers’ check serial numbers.
Carry one copy with you, but separate from the actual documents.
Leave the other copy with a friend or family member.
Immediately Before Leaving
Answering Machine Messages.
Change them, as appropriate.
House water and electrical.
Shut them down, as appropriate.
We unplug many electrical appliances to reduce the possibility
of damage from lightning strikes.