International Studies & Programs

Travel Arrangements

Flight and Travel Insurance

Flight and travel insurance are not included as part of the program fee. Flight insurance may be purchased at most international airports. Flight insurance covers you only when you are on the airplane and will not remove the need for more inclusive coverage. Should you wish to secure travel insurance for your luggage and other personal effects or cancellation coverage, an insurance agent or travel agent can provide you with information.


Flight Arrangements 

Many students find it desirable to travel with other students participating in their program abroad, especially when going abroad for the first time. For some programs, the Office for Education Abroad works with local travel agencies to obtain competitive airfares for students. However, please keep in mind that Education Abroad does not serve as a travel agency. All arrangements need to be made with an actual travel agency. If you are participating in a program with an optional group flight, you may receive flight information from such an agent. PLEASE NOTE: This information may be sent to you before you are formally accepted into the program. It is for planning purposes only and does not imply your acceptance. 

The travel agent will assist with travel questions and make the arrangements that best meet your personal needs. You may reserve a flight with the travel agency or make independent arrangements if you wish. However, you should wait until you receive official notification of acceptance before making your final booking and payment. To protect yourself against unexpected changes, the Office for Education Abroad highly recommends that you purchase cancellation insurance.

STA Travel is one of the preferred travel agencies for Michigan State University.  STA specializes in discounted airfare, including an airfare deposit program that allows students to lock-in airfare with a small deposit and pay the balance just prior to departure. For more information, visit their webpage or contact David Sanderson at david.sanderson(at)statravel.com.

Other available options:

Travel.Org: The Directory for Travel
Travelocity
Expedia
Orbitz
Hotwire
Cheap Tickets

You are expected to be at the education abroad location the day the program begins and to remain for the duration of the program. If you arrive early, you need to make your own housing arrangements. If you are not on the group flight (if available) as planned, or if you do not check in on the first official day of the program, this will be considered an emergency and the emergency contact listed on your application will be contacted.

As you begin your arrangements, you may consider having a friend or family member accompany or visit you while abroad. Contact your Program Coordinator to discuss possible resources. Although Education Abroad staff can make recommendations, the university cannot provide administrative support (transportation, housing, childcare, etc.) or assume responsibility for non-participants. Accompanying non-participants are not part of the program and therefore cannot attend classes, field trips, or any other activities formally associated with the program. If such individuals become disruptive to the program, it may be grounds for your dismissal.

Once you are accepted, you will be asked to submit your flight itinerary as part of your My Education Abroad portal checklist. You will also be instructed to complete the online orientation.

Be sure to leave your detailed flight itinerary with your family and if you promised to call them upon arrival, don't forget!

Whether you are leaving to go abroad or to return home, you must confirm your flight well in advance of the scheduled departure. Arrive at the airport at least two-and-a-half hours before departure. If you experience difficulty with your flight, you should contact the travel agent and/or airlines. If it is a travel emergency, inform OEA and we will work with the appropriate travel agent to try to resolve your problem.

Be prepared for flight changes and delays by writing down the cell phone numbers of your program leader and other travelers to facilitate communication; having cash in U.S. dollars and the currency of your host country for meals and incidentals; and, most of all, by being flexible.


Travel Permissions for Minors

Students who will be minors at the time of their program's departure should note that airlines and/or immigration officials might require minors traveling without their parent(s) or legal guardian(s) to carry a letter giving them permission to travel abroad. Affected students should inquire about the need for such a letter with the airline issuing their ticket and with the embassy or consular office of their country or countries of destination. OSA strongly recommends that any student under the age of 18 at the time of travel carry a letter of permission (PDF).


Preparing for Interruptions and Delays

Some programs travel as a group, whereas other programs require students to meet at a certain location abroad - in the airport, in the residence, or in the classroom. Either way, prior to a U.S. departure it is important to monitor your email for schedule changes. Such messages will likely come from the program leader for students on group flights or from the airline directly for individually booked flights. If the group incurs delays upon return to the U.S., the program leader will provide students with schedule updates. Students are then expected to share these updates with concerned friends or family members.

For students traveling independently, monitoring flight status and informing OEA of any delays is their responsibility. OEA staff will do their best to inform host country representatives of any student delays.

Please keep in mind that MSU has no authority over airlines with regard to delays or cancelled flights. Students are encouraged to remain calm and follow the instructions provided by airline personnel and to prepare themselves for the stress involved with the uncertainty of travel delays/disruptions.

Related Costs

If students traveling on a group flight arranged by OEA and accompanied by MSU program leader(s) incur a flight delay or cancellation that requires overnight accommodations, accompanying MSU program leader(s) will secure accommodations for the group.

However, the majority of MSU-sponsored programs do not travel on group flights (arranged by the Office for Education Abroad); thus, the costs related to airline delays or cancellations are the responsibility of the student. Specifically, costs related to such airline delays or cancellations that occur prior to an MSU-sponsored program's official start date or after the program has concluded are the responsibility of the student (unless the entire program is traveling as a group). Once the program begins abroad, costs will be covered by the Office for Education Abroad until the conclusion of the program.

With this in mind, OEA recommends that students and leaders purchase travel insurance (this is not health insurance). The types vary but be sure to consider coverage for trip cancellation (check to verify if "acts of God" are covered) and lost/delayed luggage.

In the unlikely circumstance that MSU cancels a program due to extreme weather conditions or a natural disaster, the standard suspension policies apply.

For more information about weather-related travel delays, please consult the following resources:

Airport Security

In addition to X-raying cabin luggage, limiting carry-on liquids to three-ounce containers, and requiring the removal of one's shoes, belt, jackets, sweaters and other accessories in order to pass through security, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requires that all air travel passengers go through a metal detector or a full body scan. Travelers who refuse or set-off the detector or scanner will be subjected to an enhanced pat-down. For more details about these procedures, please consult the TSA website entitled What to Know Before You Go.