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Planning and Checklists

checklist planning

Visit International Travel Guidelines, Policy, and Recommendations for current Cornell travel information. Visit Cornell's Coronavirus Resources and Updates for campus-wide information.

Basic Planning

The planning necessary and recommended for your upcoming travel depends largely on your destination, experience traveling internationally, and what you are planning to do while abroad. That being said, there are some standard things that everyone should do in preparing for a safe and healthy time abroad.

  • Research your destination. Cornell's International SOS (ISOS) online portal is an excellent source of destination-specific information. You’ll find everything from local customs to health concerns in your destination as well as current travel restrictions and entrance bans.
  • Register your travel and seek ITART approval as necessary. Registry of Cornell-related travel is mandatory for the majority of Cornell travelers and approval to travel to elevated-risk destinations may require six to eight weeks of review. For more information visit the Travel Registry webpage.
  • Ensure your passport/visa is valid. There’s nothing worse than showing up at the airport to find out your passport is about to expire or arriving in a foreign country without the correct visa and being sent home. For more information and access to Cornell's preferred visa vendor visit our Visa and Passport webpage
  • Verify your health insurance provides the coverage you may need while abroad. Accident and sickness, emergency evacuation insurance is provided, by Cornell, for most travelers abroad at no cost to them. However, this insurance does not provide for routine or ongoing care, maternity care, or out-patient mental health counseling. If these are needs for you while abroad, you should speak with your domestic insurance provider to verify coverage abroad or purchase a supplemental plan. 
  • Consider your health needs. This Health Self-Assessment is a great guide for thinking about your health needs in relation to your travel plans and can facilitate a discussion with your physician. You may also wish to consider a visit to Travel Services at Cornell Health and better understand COVID-19 and how it is impacting your destination.
  • Complete the international travel pre-departure orientation. We offer an online orientation aimed at providing resources and knowledge that will help student travelers responsibly manage their health and safety abroad and another that guides Off-campus Activity Leaders through their responsibilities and Cornell's expectations of their role. 
  • Register your travel with the nearest embassy using the STEP program. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program is a free service for U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad. Enrollment allows the nearest embassy to send you information about safety conditions in your destination and contact you in an emergency.  Non-U.S. citizens should contact their embassy to inquire about similar services that may be available.
  • Be mindful of IRB and export control laws. Ensure any applicable research is either exempted from review or approved by Cornell's Institutional Review Board (IRB) before it is initiated and comply with any applicable export control laws, including those pertaining to items and information brought outside the U.S.
  • Call your banks and credit card companies. Let them know you are traveling by putting a “travel notification” on your accounts. If you don’t, they will assume charges are fraudulent and freeze the use of your card.
  • Pack appropriately. Weather patterns, cultural norms, even how often you’ll have access to washing facilities all impact how you pack.  Don’t wait until the last minute to avoid stress and remember, if it’s really important you can likely buy it in your destination.
  • Learn a few words in the local language. This can go a long way in showing people you respect your role as a guest in their country. If you don’t speak the language, try learning may I speak English? and know the difference between excuse me, pardon me, and I’m sorry.
  • Reach out to ITHS. Cornell’s International Travel Health and Safety (ITHS) team is always ready to discuss your travel plans with you and point you towards valuable resources for your particular needs. You can reach us at or if needing to report a non-emergency incident abroad, complete the online international incident report form. In an emergency, contact the local "911" or International SOS at 1-215-942-8478. 

Detailed Checklists and Additional Information

Student Travelers:

Off-campus Activity Leaders (OCAL):

  • If you are leading students on a Cornell-sponsored trip, you can access Cornell’s Checklist for Trip Leaders to help you plan for health, safety, emergencies, team-building and understanding your destination.

Faculty and Staff: