Plan, Prepare, Travel

Traveling internationally can be much more complicated than traveling within the United States. It is important to plan ahead to determine what you need to know about your destination, prepare adequately before you leave, and understand what resources will be available while you travel. 


Step 1


2-3 Months

Before Travel


Step 2


2-3 Weeks

Before Travel


Step 3




Step 1 - Plan

Planning for an international trip should begin at least two to three months before departure, and longer for higher risk destinations.

Review Departmental & University Policies

Prior to planning any travel, you should review policies related to travel and travel expenses. You should also talk to your department to see if there are any department-specific policies or procedures that apply to you.

Determine whether your travel is ISU-sponsored travel by referencing the International Travel Registration policy. Refer to the International Travel Registration policy FAQ for additional information.

Research Your Destination

Prior to travel, familiarize yourself with your intended destination to learn about health and safety risks, entry requirements, whether or not specific vaccinations are required, and the culture and laws specific to that destination.

Health & Safety

  • U.S. Department of State Travel Advisories - The U.S. State Department maintains travel advisories on each country, and rates destinations from Level 1 ("Exercise Normal Precautions") to Level 4 ("Do Not Travel"). Review advisories in detail, as risk ratings within a country may vary from region to region.
  • ISU Risk Ratings & Location Intel - ISU contracts with a global risk management vendor to provide travelers a portal to research destinations and find risk ratings. ISU recognizes these risk ratings when determining which destinations are considered higher risk. Travel to "High" or "Severe" risk countries may require additional review for employees and approval for students.   
  • CDC Travelers' Health - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains health advisories for international destinations. These include health risk and recommended vaccinations and medications.
  • Travel Clinic - It is advisable to visit a travel health clinic prior to departure, especially if you need any recommended vaccinations for your destination. Thielen Student Health Center offers travel immunizations and  McFarland Clinic's Travel Clinic provides immunizations and specialized medical services. Any cost after insurance is considered an allowed reimbursable expense.

The Office of Risk Management's international risk manager also offers personalized itinerary reviews and risk assessments. If you are interested, you can request one by email.

Passport & Visa Requirements

Depending on your nationality, destination, and type of travel, you may need a visa from the host country in order to enter the country. U.S. citizens can consult the U.S. State Department Travel Advisories for information on entry/exit requirements. Citizens of other countries should consult their country's government.

International students and employees should consult the International Students and Scholars Office before planning international travel to determine whether travel will affect their visa status in the United States.

You will need a valid passport to travel internationally. US Citizens can find out about obtaining a passport from the U.S. State Department. Costs associated with obtaining a passport for travel related to a valid business purpose are reimbursable. In addition to needing a valid passport, many countries require that your passport should not expire within 6 months of your visit.

Scientific Researchers - Export Control

Export controls are United States laws that regulate the transfer of designated materials and technology to foreign persons both within and outside the United States and to other countries. A license from the federal government is necessary prior to such a transfer unless certain exclusions or exceptions apply. Research materials or data may be subject to these controls. The Office of Research Integrity assists travelers with export control compliance.



As soon as you know your dates of travel, employees must register their travel with the ISU International Travel Registry. This registration helps coordinate resources, including subscription to security alerts and enrollment in International Health & Emergency Insurance.

Undergraduate Students

Students must register their travel through ISUAbroad

Graduate & Professional Students

Graduate and professional students should register with the ISU International Travel Registry for travel that is non-credit-bearing AND funded in whole or in part by ISU. For credit-bearing and self-funded travel, graduate students should register through ISUAbroad.


In addition to registering with ISU, it is recommended that all international travelers register with the U.S. State Department's Safe Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This lets the U.S. government know you're in the country and the consulate can more easily provide assistance.


Step 2 - Prepare

In the weeks before your trip, prepare information and documents you will need while traveling.

Prepare for Emergencies

If you need emergency assistance, contact one of the numbers below. Program these numbers into your phone and/or write them down so you have them ready if you need them.

Local Emergency Numbers

Emergency services in other countries are not always reached by dialing 911 as they are in the United States. In addition, many countries have different emergency numbers for police, fire, and ambulance.

Global Emergency Assistance

When you register your travel with ISU, you will be enrolled in the university's International Travel & Emergency Insurance and will have access to global 24/7 emergency assistance. On Call International provides 24/7 phone and live chat assistance to help you find a place for medical treatment, advise you in security threats, help you evacuate after a natural disaster, and more.

Security, medical or emergency claims assistance:
Phone: +1 603-952-2056 (collect world wide)
1-888-226-9576 (toll free US or Canada)
24/7 live chat

ISU Risk Management Urgent Phone

If you need urgent 24/7 assistance from the university, call the Risk Management Urgent line at +001 (515) 294-7700.

Review Travel Advice Again

Although you researched your destination in Step 1 above, conditions may have changed. It's a good idea to review travel advisories and risk ratings again in the weeks prior to your trip. If things have changed or you have questions about whether you should cancel or reschedule your trip, contact ISU's international risk manager at for advice.


Collect & Copy Important Documents

Prior to departure, make sure you have all the documents you need for your trip. It is wise to also carry photocopies or scans of these documents in case the originals are lost during your travel. Important documents include:

  • Passport
  • Visa
  • Travel Itinerary
  • Insurance Information
  • Invitation Letter from host-country partner (if applicable)
  • US immigration documents (for non-US citizens)

Depending on your trip, there may be additional items.


Digital Preparation

Consider the following actions to prepare your computing devices and/or online presence.

Download Apps

Download any mobile apps you might need while in the country. These may include region-specific rideshare apps, transit guides, maps, and communications apps.


Secure Your Devices (or don't bring them)

Secure your phone, tablet, computer before traveling with encrypted storage and strong pass codes. Install the ISU Virtual Private Network (VPN) application and use it when connecting .

For higher-risk locations, consider taking a loaner device that can be wiped clean after returning. Consult your college's IT department or the IT Solution Center about loaner device options.

Remove Photos & Social Media Footprint

Some countries have strict laws about what political topics can or cannot be discussed or supported. If you have politically controversial content on your devices or on social media, remove the content prior to travel. If you do not, there is a risk you could be detained. If you have questions about what content may be sensitive for your destination, please contact ISU's international risk manager at


Step 3 - Travel

During your travel, stay safe by:

  • Staying aware of your surrounds and belongings.
  • Avoiding traveling on roads at night.
  • Avoiding crowds and demonstrations.
  • Not criticizing your host country.



Shaun Jamieson
International Risk Manager
(515) 294-6916