This is an exciting time- you’ve been accepted for your program and now you are ready to arrange your journey that will take you to study off campus! Our office has compiled some suggestions from students as well as our own travel tips to help you get off to a smooth start.
Getting Ready to Book:
- Book as soon as your provider confirms you can book-dates confirmed- to avoid expensive fares and inconvenient flights. We strongly recommend you book at least 21 days before your program start date. But…the sooner the better! Last-minute flights are much more expensive and may have inconvenient layovers (stops on the way).
- Check to see if you need a visa for your host country. If so, this determines when you can arrive/depart. If your flight stops in a third country you may also need a transit visa just to go through the airport. We have more information about visas on our website.
- Be sure to check the medical and vaccination protocols for any country you will visit or transit through on your journey. Specifically, look at testing and/or vaccination requirements to ensure that you will be able to enter without issue.
- You must have a valid passport with an expiration date of at least six months after your program ends before you can book an international flight. Don’t forget to sign your new passport when it arrives!
Booking a flight:
- Read program provider instructions about arrivals (what time of day to arrive, when you can depart). They will usually contain information about when to arrive, which airport if there is more than one in your city, and they may offer a shuttle service to your housing. You may also want to see if other students from your program can fly with you, perhaps meeting up in a big hub city and flying the last leg together, so you can navigate together.
- Plan to book a round-trip flight- this is usually cheaper than two one-way tickets. In the rare case when your program begins in one city and ends in another, you can enter multiple destinations online. You are required to arrive by the designated move-in/orientation date and stay until all examinations and any other program requirements are completed. When flying to Europe or Asia you often “lose” a day to the time difference, so pay close attention to the departure and the arrival times.
- Consider the class of ticket you are purchasing (e.g., Basic Economy, Main Cabin, Economy Plus). These different classes of ticket differ in price, but note that certain classes may charge fees for cancellation/changes, baggage, or seat selection. Look at the details carefully so that you don't purchase a less expensive ticket, but then end up paying more once you pay for all the things not included in your fare. This article provides more information.
- Look closely at the layovers on your flight itinerary. We suggest a minimum of one hour to make a flight connection domestically, and at least two hours if it is an international connection. Please allow more layover time if possible. Sometimes flights may contain a connection between two different airports in the same city (like JFK in New York City and Newark, NJ) which may be very far from each other, and are often expensive to transit between with an Uber or taxi. If you have heavy bags we wouldn’t recommend you choose this! Google Flights is a useful tool for searching flights and tracking prices.
- Be aware that a transit visa might be required when you have a layover in another country. This is especially common for non-U.S. passport holders, but can be true even for U.S. citizens.
- If you have demonstrated financial need: Denison will cover your flight costs up to the travel allowance. You may fly from any location, but your allowance amount will always be based on leaving from and returning to Columbus.
- If you book a flight that exceeds your allowance, you are responsible for paying the difference.
- The allowance you receive includes funds for baggage fees.
- Always read the fine print on any fare to see what is included. Low-cost carriers sometimes charge you for everything from water to seat selection to a carry-on bag and these costs can add up quickly! It may be worth paying for an Economy fare that includes a checked bag and carry-on item, rather than purchasing the Basic Economy fare and paying to add these items later- do the math before you buy, and don’t forget to factor in your return trip. Change and cancellation fees may also vary between fare types.
- There are a number of useful tools for saving money on airfare. Shop around before you make a purchase, and consider nearby departing airports or leaving at a different time of day as an option to reduce costs.
- Denison does not pay for or coordinate any travel other than to/from the study abroad site, or for flights during vacation or break periods. Ask past OCS students and your program staff for tips on saving money for these trips!
After you book your flight:
- As soon as you book your flight, it is critical that you upload your departure and return itinerary information in the Flight Itinerary section of your application in Global Tools. If you do not upload your departure itinerary before you depart the US, other penalties may be applied that may impact your registration and/or housing selection for the next semester.
- Check for any COVID-19 related requirements to enter the country, e.g., proof of vaccination or a negative test result. Be sure to check on requirements for each country you will transit as they often vary.
- If you change your mind about your OCS plans, or wish to move the date of your flight after booking, you are responsible for any penalties, cancellation fees, change fees, or lost fares.
- Put a copy of your itinerary and your travel documents somewhere safe in case you lose anything, separate from the originals.
- It is fine to use electronic boarding passes, however, we strongly recommend that you have your flight itinerary and, if possible, your boarding pass and any other arrival instructions in printed copy on the day you fly. You may not be able to use data on your phone after you board your first flight.
- Anything important (itinerary, medication, money, passport, valuables) should be in your carry-on baggage with you in the bag that you place under the seat in front of you (often called a “personal item”). We also recommend bringing a warm clothing layer for chilly planes and anything you need immediately on arrival.
- Take a picture of your checked bags and, ideally, a photo of the interior contents. This will help you to identify your bag in the case that it goes missing during transit. Be sure to label your bag with your name and contact information both inside as well as on the exterior of your bag. Finally, be sure to mark your bag somehow so that it stands out to you (e.g., a colorful ribbon tied to the handle, a visible sticker on the bag itself).
- You’ll probably need to check in a bag (or two, but try to pack light!). Only pack what you can carry yourself for a few blocks. Be prepared to live without its contents for a few days, and don’t pack anything irreplaceable there just in case. You may wish to put a tracker (like AirTag or Tile) in your bag in case it is lost.
- If you are bringing food, check that it is allowed first. Otherwise leave any snacks from the plane there.
Once you land:
- When you land in a new country you will likely pass through Customs and Border Control. Your passport (and visa if applicable, and any other supporting documents provided by your provider) will be checked. Following this checkpoint, you will likely need to pick up your checked bag before passing through another checkpoint. If you are connecting, you will re-check your bags and may pass through security screening again.
- You may not have access to cellphone data right away. Tell your family you will be in touch with them when you get into your housing so they know you are safe.
- If your program has made arrangements for your pick up, make sure you know who you are looking for in the airport or a designated meeting point. Your program provider will give you this information before you depart. If you are required to get to your location on your own research directions and best modes of transportation before you depart. Keep in mind you may not easily be able to use your phone without reliable wifi, or a pre-arranged international plan for your phone.
- Jet lag is common when traveling long distances across time zones. It helps to get outside during the day (sunlight), to try to minimize napping during daylight hours, and eat during the new mealtimes. It can take a few days of feeling “foggy” before you fully adjust.
- If your checked bag gets lost in travel, report it to the baggage desk before you leave the airport. Be sure to ask about reimbursement policies for anything you need to purchase right away before your bag is found.