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Planning and Checklists

checklist planning

Visit Pandemic Travel Policy, Guidelines, and Recommendations for current Cornell travel information. Visit Cornell's COVID-19 Response 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.


Paperwork and Documents

  • 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.
  • 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.

Health and Safety

  • Research your destination. Cornell's 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.
  • 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 (OCAL) 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 (STEP) 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.
  • 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.

Country-specific Education and Awareness

  • 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 at 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."

Detailed Checklists and Additional Information

Student Travelers

U.S. Department of State information for students abroad.

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

If you are traveling for research or other purposes Cornell’s Faculty and Staff Pre-Travel Checklist provides the essentials of what you need to consider while planning a trip.