Travel is an adventure of the mind, body and spirit. Traveling overseas is an exhilarating experience — it should also be a safe and healthy one. Below are frequently asked questions as well as health, flight booking and safety information.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- What is Hope’s Global Travel Program, anyway?
Hope’s Global Travel Program is an opportunity to travel with a group and focus on continued learning and stretching your horizons while traveling abroad. Hope’s programs are led by faculty with an interest in the travel destination and who work to specifically design a thoughtful travel experience with the assistance of local tour operators.
- Do I have to be a Hope graduate, parent of a Hope student or HASP member to participate in the Global Travel Program?
Our programs are open to any interested participants who appreciate learning for the joy of it while traveling to fascinating places around the world. We first promote to the greater Hope College and HASP community but all are welcome. We take registrations online on a first-come, first-served basis.
- What is the age range of travelers?
Travelers range in age from mature teenagers through late retirement. Shared interest in the themes and destinations of specific programs create common bonds.
- What are the physical demands of Global Travel Programs?
Unless specifically stated, programs are not designed as “high-adventure travel,” but you should be healthy and fit to successfully participate. Transportation between cities is generally by private coach. Other movement is usually on foot or with public transportation. Generally, participants should be capable of walking three to four miles per day, climbing over uneven terrain, using stairs without handrails, and climbing in and out of a variety of transportation vehicles. Activity level varies by program. Travelers should be prepared for some long days of traveling, dealing with highs and lows that can occur when experiencing a different culture or being part of a group for several hours per day. If you have any questions about the physical demands from a specific program, please contact the Global Travel Program coordinator, Pat Van Wylen at 616.395.6856 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- What is typically included in the program fee?
- Seminars and discussions by the program leader and guest lecturers
- All accommodations
- Breakfast daily and several other group meals
- Entrance fees and group tours
- Ground transportation (except airfare transfers)
- Gratuities to group drivers and tour guides
- What is not included in the program fee?
Participants are individually responsible for all expenses not specifically in the program fee. Examples of such expenses include, passport and visa fees, recommended immunizations and vaccinations.
- Is travel insurance included in the program fee?
Hope does not provide travel, trip cancellation or trip interruption coverage; we strongly recommend that you consider purchasing such coverage to protect your travel investment. Hope College has limited medical and travel insurance and a description of it can be downloaded here. Note that some insurance providers will not refund your premium if Hope should need to cancel a program, but will apply it to future travel. You should question providers thoroughly about refunds.
- What happens if I have to cancel my participation after I register?
A payment and refund schedule is posted for each program, clearly outlining the due dates of payments and the amount of any refund. With most programs, after the final payment due date no refunds can be made.
- Are we required to attend all lectures, events and take tests?
- Every program has an educational theme and we emphasize learning for the joy of it. Discussions, group visits to museums, historic sites, art galleries and national parks enhance the exposure and learning of a specific program’s theme. There are no required assignments, attendance or tests. Program leaders provide resource lists and answer questions in advance for those who want to become more familiar with the culture and history of their destination.
- Will I have time to pursue my own interests?
- On every program, we strive to have some free time or unstructured time to allow you to explore your interests, pursue new experiences and savor some of the nuances of different cultures and places. Schedules vary by program, so be sure to look closely at the itinerary posted.
- If I want to arrive a few days earlier or stay a few days later, can you help me do that?
- Absolutely. We will contact the hotel and make a reservation on your behalf in the hopes that you can keep the same room that you have doing your stay.
- Is the entire program fee used for the trip?
- The Global Travel Program is designed to have a small portion of each fee donated for Hope College student study abroad scholarships. One goal of the Global Travel Program is to create opportunities for students with financial needs to be able to experience study abroad as part of their Hope College experience.
Many places you travel will cause no special health concerns. Healthcare systems and facilities in many countries are quite similar to those in the United States. In other regions, however, there are differences and specifically recommended health procedures.
This resource is meant to be used by participants as a general reference only. It is by no means comprehensive; therefore, travelers should consult with a physician or other resources regarding particular health questions.
- Participation Requirements
Please view the “What to Expect” section for your specific program.
Global Travel Programs vary in pace, but in general, they require you, the participant, to be capable, without assistance, of walking a minimum of one mile at a time over uneven terrain, and up to five miles total per day, of climbing stairs that may not have handrails, of climbing in and out of a variety of transportation vehicles, of keeping pace with an active group of travelers on long days of traveling, of dealing with the emotional highs and lows that can occur when experiencing a different culture, and of being capable of traveling with a group for several hours each day. Hope College has published specific requirements for each Global Travel Program. You are responsible for reviewing the requirements for your program and judging the appropriateness of these travel activities to your physical, mental and behavioral capabilities. Any participant who is unable to fulfill the program requirements may have their registration cancelled. Any participant who has demonstrated an inability, in the opinion of the program leader, of keeping up with the group or of safely participating in program activities may be prohibited from participating in certain activities.
When it is possible to do so, Hope College strives to make reasonable efforts to accommodate disabilities and other special needs of program participants if we are notified at the time of registration. If you have a special need regarding your participation in the program or will need an accommodation, you should contact the Global Travel Coordinator as soon as possible. Unfortunately, Hope College may not be able to accommodate all special needs. Facilities, resources, accommodations and protections for disabled and special needs individuals can be sharply limited outside the U.S., and Hope College reserves the right to refuse to make an accommodation when not required to do so by law.
You are expected to behave in a reasonable manner toward other travelers, tour leaders, staff and other persons with whom you come into contact during the program. If you behave, in the opinion of the program leader, in a way likely to disrupt the enjoyment or endanger the safety of other travelers, you will be expelled from the group and will have to make your own arrangements to return home. No refunds for the unused portion of the program will be given.
- Upon Registration
Review Your Health Insurance
Participants are solely responsible for their own insurance coverage while traveling on the Hope College Global Travel program. Many medical providers do not cover you outside the United States. Check with your own provider first. If you are not covered, we strongly recommend purchasing travel insurance.
Identify Your Health Needs
Inform us of health or other special-needs issues once you are accepted into a program. Describe all allergies, disabilities, psychological treatments, dietary requirements and medical needs. Resources and services for people with disabilities vary widely by country and region. If you have a disability or special need, please identify it immediately so that we may research what accommodations, if any, can be made.
Check Health Advisories
Research recommendations for your destination country and check regional health and medical advisories. Check the travel recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and from the World Health Organization.
- Before Departure
Visit Your Health Care Provider
Visit your doctor or a travel clinic physician to find out whether you need to take any special precautions based on your medical history and destination.
Update your health records and prescriptions for medications and corrective lenses or equipment. Carry medications in their original containers. Arrange to bring necessary prescription medication with you. If prescriptions will need to be filled overseas, carry written prescriptions using generic names to facilitate refills, and check with your doctor, pharmacist or other resources to ensure that refills will be available. It may also be helpful to have a letter from your physician that describes the health issue, the prescribed dosage and the generic name of the medicine.
If you take anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medications, physicians often recommend that you stay on them during the program, even if it would otherwise be time for you to taper. Be particularly cautious about dosage changes prior to departure. We encourage you to consult your physician on this matter.
If you are allergic to anything, wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace and carry an identification card to inform health care personnel in the event of an accident or injury.
We strongly recommend carrying a printed warning card listing what you are allergic to, both in English and in the appropriate foreign language, if possible. This can be shown to servers or directly to the chef, both when you are dining as part of the group and dining on your own. In addition, be sure to carry an Epi-Pen with at least two vials of epinephrine. Finally, consider consulting the International Association of Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT) Directory, listing hospitals at your destination with English-speaking staff. Should you need medical attention, pointing a cab driver to the list may get you help more quickly.
First Aid Kit
You may wish to carry a small first aid kit. The kit could be quite simple or more comprehensive, depending on your destination. It could contain such items as bandages, ace bandages, thermometer, adhesive tape, gauze, sterile cleansers, antibacterial ointment and antiseptic cream. Depending on the region, you might include antihistamines, salt tablets, sunscreen or insect repellent.
Over the Counter Medications
Pack an adequate supply of any over-the-counter medications you take regularly, as well as remedies for motion sickness (if you are prone) and diarrhea. Remember that the food abroad will be different from what you’re used to at home.
- En Route
To help ameliorate jet lag, follow these tips on the airplane.
Drink liquids to avoid dehydration
Water and fruit juices are best. During flight, alcohol dehydrates you and affects you more quickly and strongly. It can also cause joints to swell and make it harder to adjust to time changes.
Stretch, stand and walk around as much as possible.
If possible, sleep during the flight. If you can find an empty row, lift the arm rests and stretch out.
Set your watch
Change your watch to the new time when your flight departs. Attempt to eat meals on destination time.
Sleeping on arrival
If you arrive in the morning, stay awake until a usual bedtime (or at least until 8 or 9 p.m.). If you arrive later in the evening, try to go to sleep early. Try to establish a regular sleeping pattern as soon as possible.
- During the Program
Because of cultural and environmental differences, many matters need to be addressed after you arrive.
Finding Medical Assistance
Learn how to find medical assistance, whether routine or emergency, before the need arises. Is there a 911-style emergency number? If so, what services does it access? Who will provide routine medical care and how can you reach that provider? If you need any special resources, find out how to get them. Is there a coordinator on site who can assist you with finding this information?
Culture shock can be a real health issue. Traveling through time zones and for long periods of time, facing different values and habits can leave travelers impatient, bewildered and depressed. You may find yourself alternately exhilarated and exasperated — thrilled at the experiences the new culture offers and frustrated by the culture’s differences from your own. Ups and downs are natural. If you are angry, impatient, homesick or depressed during the first few days, remind yourself that these things will pass once you are sleeping and eating normally. If these feelings are prolonged, please seek help.
Diet and Routine
Food in other countries may be quite different from what you are used to at home. It may be healthier in some instances (more vegetables and fruits) or less healthy in others (more fried foods than you usually eat). If you have special dietary restrictions or needs, you should consult with Hope College before departure. Depending on your destination, you may need to drink only bottled water and avoid ice cubes. At any rate, drink plenty of liquids to stay hydrated. If you have special dietary needs, make arrangements in advance. Despite the change in environment, you can still keep some of your routines from home. Get enough rest, especially the first few days. Be as active as you normally are, but beware of extra activity and strain, as travel itself is taxing.
- Upon Return
If you become ill when you return home, contact your doctor. Sometimes illnesses first appear weeks after initial exposure. Inform medical personnel about the countries you have been in. Many diseases that are indigenous to foreign countries are unfamiliar to doctors trained in the United States.
Following are policies and procedures used by Hope College’s Global Travel Program staff to assess risks and promote the safety of participants and program leaders during Global Travel Programs. We have included common-sense tips to help avoid safety-related problems and to promote a positive Hope College Global Travel Program experience. All travelers are responsible for familiarizing themselves with and following these policies and procedures.
- Policies and Procedures
- Program and assistant program leaders are prepared to handle problems that arise during a Global Travel program. They are directed to get in touch with Hope College’s Risk and Responsibility Management Team immediately should there be concern for the group’s safety.
- Participants are registered with the United States embassy at each destination. United States diplomatic personnel can assist the group if the need arises.
- In case of a crisis, re-arrangements of travel plans could be necessary, and steps would be taken accordingly. Informed on-campus personnel, U.S. State Department personnel and on-site advisers would be included in making decisions. Hope’s Global Travel Program and the Risk and Responsibility Management Team have an Emergency Response Plan in place to assist program leaders and staff at home in handling various situations.
- Safety is everyone’s responsibility. Participants and college staff have roles to
play in minimizing potential dangers. Hope College’s Global Travel Program cannot:
- Guarantee or assure the safety and/or security of participants or eliminate all risks from the Global Travel Program environments
- Monitor or control all the daily personal decisions, choices and activities of participants
- Prevent participants from engaging in illegal, dangerous or unwise activities
- Assure that United States standards of due process apply in overseas legal proceedings or provide or pay for legal representation for participants
- Assume responsibility for the actions or events that are not part of the program, nor for those that are beyond the control of the travel provider and its subcontractors, or for situations that may arise due to the failure of a participant to disclose pertinent information
- Assure that home country cultural values and norms will apply at the destination
- Assure that participants will be free of illness or injury during the program
- Assume responsibility for acts and events beyond the college’s control
- Ensure local adherence to United States rights, political correctness and sensitivity, relationships between the sexes, or relations among racial, cultural and ethnic groups
- Participant Responsibility for Safety
You, the participants, have the biggest impact on your own health and safety through your choices and behavior before and during the Hope program. Participants on Hope College Global Travel Programs must:
- Assume responsibility for all elements necessary for personal preparation for the program.
- Prior to departure, read all materials issued by Hope College that relate to safety, health, legal, environmental, political, cultural and religious conditions at the destination.
- Conduct your own research on the destination(s) with particular emphasis on health and safety concerns, as well as the social, cultural and political situations.
- Consider your personal, emotional, physical and mental health and safety needs when considering participation in a program.
- Make available to Hope College accurate and complete physical and mental health information and any other personal data necessary in planning for a safe and healthy Global Travel Program experience.
- Immediately report any emergencies or concerns to your program leaders.
- Obtain and maintain appropriate insurance policies and abide by any conditions imposed by the carriers.
- Inform family members or others who may need to know about your participation in the Hope College Global Travel Program. Provide them with emergency contact information.
- Understand and comply with the terms of participation, codes of conduct and emergency procedures of the program.
- Learn the culture and laws of the country in which you will travel, to the extent possible. Comply with local codes of conduct and obey host-country laws.
- Be aware of local conditions and customs that may present health or safety risks when making daily choices. Promptly express any health or safety concerns to the program staff or other appropriate individuals before and/or during the program.
- Behave in a manner that is respectful of the rights and well-being of others and encourage others to behave in a similar manner.
- Accept the consequences of your decisions and actions.
- Refrain from using illegal drugs and avoid excessive or irresponsible consumption of alcohol.
- Become familiar with the procedures for obtaining emergency health and legal system services at the destination.
- File your important documents in a secure, password-protected site that you can access while overseas. Important documents include but are not limited to your passport information, airline schedules, emergency contacts, your personal medical information, current prescriptions and credit card numbers.
- Leave your itinerary and contact information with the program leaders if you leave the program for 24 hours or more.
- General Safety
The excitement of travel and the unfamiliar environment can make it easy to become careless or distracted. The following suggestions offer no guarantee of safety and are mostly common sense. Be aware of where you are and what is around you at all times.
- Protect your valuable documents. Wear them under your clothing in a money belt or neck wallet at all times.
- Never leave your baggage unattended. A thief will take advantage of even a few seconds of inattention. This holds true no matter where you are — in a hotel, at the train station, on a train or bus, at a restaurant or resting in a park.
- Think and act confident and self-assured. Do not look like a target. Avoid flashy dress, jewelry, luggage, or conspicuous behavior that draws attention to you.
- Avoid demonstrations, especially in politically volatile countries. Read the local newspaper and learn about potential civil unrest. What appears peaceful can suddenly become dangerous, and you could be caught in the middle.
- Travel with a companion at night and stay in populated, well-trafficked areas. In some countries, it is important to have a male companion in the group. Use common sense if confronted with a dangerous situation. At times, it may be best to attract attention by screaming or running. Yet, if confronted by superior or armed force, it may be best not to fight attackers, but rather to give up valuables. Your personal safety is more important than property.
- Plan where you are going in advance and be aware of your surroundings. If your instincts tell you a situation is uncomfortable, trust them and move along.
- Use banks and authorized money exchanges. Learn currency upon arrival in a country. This will keep you from being a target as you handle money.
- Taking photos of police or military installations is usually prohibited — your camera/phone could be confiscated. A sign depicting a camera with a line through it means “Don’t take pictures.”
- Do not swim at an unfamiliar beach unless you are positive it is safe. Watch the waves and other swimmers. There may be dangerous undertows. Beaches may be contaminated, which only the locals might be aware of. If no one is in the water, think twice.
- Stay healthy by eating well and getting sufficient rest. If you become ill, get the proper care as soon as possible. Don’t be afraid to visit a doctor or hospital because you don’t speak the local language. Someone usually speaks English.
- Residence Safety
- Do not open your door to people you don’t know, and don’t give your room number to persons you don’t know well. Meet visitors in the lobby. Let someone know when you expect to return, especially if you will be out late at night.
- Know your exit options (stairways and exit doors).
- Keep valuables in a safe place — this may be different for each place you stay. When in doubt, carry money and valuables with you under your clothing.
- Close curtains after dark, and lock ground-floor windows.
- Traffic Safety
- Learn the traffic signals and signs when you arrive in a country (or before if possible), even if you are not driving.
- In some countries traffic moves on the left side of the road. Be aware of your natural reaction to look to the left and then right.
- Lock taxi doors if possible, especially at night in cities.
- Airport Safety
- Put your name and address inside and outside each piece of luggage. Bright string or tape around your luggage will make it easier to find and harder for someone else to mistake it as their own. Make sure you receive a claim check for each piece of luggage you check.
- NEVER carry packages or letters for strangers or agree to watch a stranger’s luggage.
- Do not carry on your person or in your hand luggage anything that could be regarded as a weapon. Matches and lighters are forbidden in baggage. If you need them, purchase these items once you arrive at your destination. Metal objects in your suitcase may activate security devices, causing delays in the arrival of your luggage.
- On the plane, check under your seat and in overhead baggage compartments. Report anything suspicious to flight personnel.
- Safety in Cities
- While you may not directly encounter thieves, they will have their eyes on you. We recommend using a money belt or neck safe to hold passports, cash and other valuables.
- Beggars may approach you with children or may offer to carry your bags. Giving money is a personal decision, but use common sense and caution. If you are hassled or uncomfortable in a situation, speak confidently and move away.
- Pickpockets usually do not work alone. Be aware of distractions by strangers; the “lift” often follows.
- If your possessions are lost or stolen, report the loss immediately to the police and other appropriate authorities. Keep a copy of the police report for insurance claims and an explanation of your plight.
- If someone tries to take your purse, backpack or other property by force, let them have it. Your personal safety is far more important than any property.
- A camera/phone is the most often stolen item. Carry it inconspicuously.
Booking Your Flight
Here are some helpful tips when thinking about getting to and from your program.
- DON’T ACT TOO EARLY
You should not purchase non-refundable airfare until we can confirm the program has enough participants to go. The latest go/no-go decision date is generally around four months prior to departure. However, we hope to have programs called “a go” much earlier than that.
- CHECK THE DATES
Global Travel Program dates typically do not include flight time. For example, Danube River Cruise is listed as June 4–15, 2017, meaning you should depart the U.S. on June 3 in order to arrive in Bucharest on June 4, which is the first official day of the program.
- CHECK THE CITIES
Many programs start in one city and end in another. All transportation within the program (between the starting city and ending city) is included in your program fee. A good example of this is the Danube River Cruise. Part of the program fee is getting the group from Bucharest to Budapest. But if you were to book your flights in and out of Bucharest, you would be responsible for getting yourself back to Bucharest after the program ends in Budapest. Instead, of course, most people simply fly into one city and out of the other.
- PLANNING EXTRA DAYS PRE- AND POST-PROGRAM
If you choose to arrive a few days early or to extend your stay a few days after the program, we can help you get a reservation at the group hotel.