International Travel Toolkit: Undergraduate Students

International Travel Toolkit: Undergraduate Students


Congratulations! You are considering travelling abroad for study or work placement. Great decision!

Please take care to read all the sections in this Toolkit carefully. You should be familiar with them before making plans for any travel and during travel.

It is critical that you play an active role in the planning of your mobility, especially with regard to risks and personal safety. This kit aims to provide information to help you enhance your safety and experience, consider risks, and assist you with the requirements that NUI Galway lays out with respect to international activities.

For your international outbound activity the following is required:

  • Research, completion and approval of a Mobility Assessment particular to your mobility, by you and your College.
  • Completion of a Student Declaration outlining understanding your responsibilities around due diligence, good public health practices, insurance, and finances.
  • A valid insurance policy and understanding where exclusions apply to infectious diseases such as Covid-19.
  • Attendance at a minimum of one virtual Pre-departure Briefings
  • Submission of an Emergency Contact Form with details of next-of-kin
  • An Organisational Assessment (completed by employers) – only for Placements

 Please study the information below to assist you working through these requirements in partnership with your College/School.

Eligibility & Application

To undertake a credited international mobility you have to be a registered University of Galway student, in the appropriate year, and be approved by your academic coordinator for one of the places that are available on your course. You should contact your College coordinator for details on applications / expression of interest, timings and to find out what options are available to you. Depending on your course and its requirements, students are typically given opportunities to expected to study or work abroad for either a full academic year or one semester.

College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies  Contact your programme director
College of Business, Law and Public Policy (including Shannon College)
College of Science and Engineering
College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Science

Financial Needs

Under NUI Galway’s exchange programme with international partner universities you are not charged for tuition at the host university. You will need to budget for flights, accommodation, food, insurance and other general expenses. Some countries are more expensive than others, as are some cities, and the level of extra expenditure involved will also depend on whether or not you are currently living at home. If you are, you will find that accommodation will become a major cost. However, if you are already paying rent in Galway, you might find that accommodation costs are cheaper abroad than they are here in Ireland.

A rough estimate of costs for a 9-10 month period abroad in Europe, for example, could be between €7,000 and €9,000 including rent, food, books and other essentials. For the US, a rough estimate for 9-10 months would be €12-14,000 for the same period. However, much will depend on your own particular needs and budgeting skills. You will also need to keep in mind travel costs, including two return flights, as most students who are away for the full academic year return home for the Christmas holiday period.

Assistance with Funding

Students undertaking an Erasmus mobility can apply for an Erasmus mobility grant, which is intended as a contribution towards the cost of the study / work period abroad. Further details on Erasmus funding can be found at

There is a much smaller numbers of grants available for mobility to countries outside of Europe. These awards will be quite competitive and by no means guaranteed. Your College can advise if there are any opportunities for these awards in your year of travel. Please note that it is typical that students travelling to destinations outside of Europe do so without any award.

Students with disabilities or special needs can apply for additional support funding from the Erasmus programme. Some students who are deemed to be financially disadvantaged may qualify for the Social Inclusion Supplementary Support Initiative (SISSI).

When you are aware of the costs involved, you can start planning ahead. Discuss everything with your parents or guardians well in advance. Start saving early to ensure that you have adequate funds to support yourself while you are abroad. If you plan to work part time whilst abroad, you should find out if you are allowed to work in your destination country. All EU citizens are entitled to work in other EU member states but some host universities have a rule about the number of hours that exchange students may work during term-time.

Mobility Assessment

Throughout the process of planning, we aim to recognise your independence and agency in undertaking your time abroad. Students are expected to give due attention to the planning of their mobility especially with regard to risks and personal safety. To facilitate this each student must submit a Mobility Assessment prior to travel. The form has been designed as prompt for students to ensure and record that they have appropriately considered their own needs, their travel arrangements, health (including public health) factors, local and regional conditions and the study and/or work environment they are going to spending time in. Just because you have insurance does not mean that you don’t need to consider and manage your own risk in other ways.

A sample of the Mobility Assessment form can be viewed here – Outbound Mobility Assessment .

Please note that the sample given above is for illustration purposes only, i.e. not completion and submission. A link to complete your own Mobility Assessment will be issued to you directly from your College/Student. If you have not received one, please enquire with them directly.

Please refer to this guide to help you with completing your own Mobility Assessment. Mobility Assessment Guide

Your College/School contact can also help in completing the Assessment and you should consider conferring with friends and family as you are making plans for your trip.

Student Declaration

In addition to the Mobility Assessment every student must carefully read and sign a Study Abroad Declaration. This is an undertaking of your responsibilities around due diligence, good public health practices, insurance, and finances. It includes an acknowledgement by you that you have studied, understand and accept the risks that may be involved in taking part in study or placement abroad, including those uncertainties that are faced during the current global health emergency.

Sample Student Declaration – Study Abroad Declaration

Please note that the sample given above is for illustration purposes only, i.e. not completion and submission. A link to complete your own Student Declaration will be issued in tandem with the Mobility Assessment to you directly from your College/Student. If you have not received one, please enquire with them directly.

Your College/School will provide guidance for estimates of costs for your particular destination country as part of their pre-departure preparation programme.

Schools of Nursing and Health Sciences:

School of Engineering:

Pre-Departure Briefings – samples


Practical Matters and Mobility Assessments


Travel Insurance is a type of insurance that covers a pre-planned trip and will reimburse the policyholder if certain unforeseen circumstances occur.  Students participating in outbound mobility and international placements must have appropriate travel insurance in place. 

There are a number of Insurance providers in Ireland who can provide cover. 

  1. Backpackers Travel Insurance | Long Stay Travel | AIG Ireland
  2. Chubb Insurance Backpackers Travel Insurance Travel Insurance – Get a quote online | Chubb Insurance (
  3. Aviva Backpackers Travel Insurance - Travel Insurance Quotes 20% Off | Holiday Insurance - Aviva Ireland
  4. Allianz Backpackers Travel Insurance - Backpacker Travel Insurance | Allianz Assistance (
  5. Blue Insurance Backpackers Insurance -
  6. Pro-Trip World (Dr-Walter) - 

 There are different levels of cover available, which provide different levels of benefit under the policy and Students are advised to familiarise themselves with the cover types available.  

University of Galway Insurance Cover Requirements & Recommendations:

  • Medical Expenses to include Repatriation – at least €1 Million
  • Personal Liability – at least €500,000
  • Cancellation/Curtailment/Rearrangement – Highly recommended
  • Baggage /Personal Items/ Money/ Passport – Highly recommended

Other important considerations when purchasing insurance:

  • Duration of the Policy cover – you need to ensure that your Travel Insurance covers the entire duration of your time abroad
  • Material Facts – please ensure you disclose all relevant material facts to your Insurers. For example, a pre-existing medical condition.
  • COVID 19 Cover – please ensure you check and review the policy carefully in relation to COVID 19 costs and expenses. Policies differ from one Insurer to another in relation to the coverage offered.
  • Excluded Territories – all policies will include an Excluded Territory List. Please ensure you are familiar with same and discuss any issues/concerns with your Insurer.
  • Exclusions – please read the Policy before purchasing to understand the specific exclusions.
  • Holidays/returning home – if you intend to take a holiday during your trip abroad or return home please check that this is covered by your policy before travelling.
  • Winter Sports – if you intend to participate in any winter sports during your time abroad please ensure this is covered by your Policy.
  • It’s important to check the policy Terms and Conditions at the time of purchase as these can change frequently

Students are reminded that it is your responsibility to ensure that you obtain a policy which satisfies the University requirements and your own needs in advance of departure and to ensure you have adequate cover in place for the duration of your time abroad.

Further information on travel insurance in Ireland is available through the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission. Travel insurance - CCPC

Please note that some partner universities (for example some in the US) require you to buy a particular policy that they source. In these instances it can be more expensive than you might be able to find at home. Some host universities will also require you to provide them with details of your private travel insurance policy.

Make sure that you keep a record of any emergency numbers provided by the insurance company incase you have to make a claim. Having the details readily to hand will alleviate some of the stress if you are in a difficult situation. Should you find yourself in circumstances where you will have to make a claim, you should contact the insurance company immediately, as a delay in doing this could affect your claim.

Cover Under a Family Health Insurance Plan
You may wish to investigate whether travel for your stay abroad under your own or your parents’ private health insurance plan is adequate. You will need to confirm the cover requirements as given above are met completely. You can establish this by reading the policy document and by contacting the health insurance company directly. You may be able to purchase additional cover for travel insurance if this is not included in an existing health insurance policy.

IMPORTANT NOTE for EU Citizens Travelling to EU Countries

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is essential for every EU citizen travelling to another European country; as a student, it entitles you to necessary healthcare in the public system of any EU/EEA member state. The EHIC provides for basic health cover, but what constitutes basic cover may vary from one country to another, and in some cases the patient will be required to make a contribution to the costs of care in the public health system, so it’s advisable to check the website to get precise information on the different countries. You can also apply for the card via that website. One card is needed for each individual or member of a family. The EHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance, however, and it’s quite limited in what it covers. Healthcare in a private setting is not included, nor is the cost of repatriation, or the additional travel and accommodation costs that can accrue in a case of illness or an accident abroad. You will also need to be covered for eventualities like cancelled/delayed flights and lost luggage. This is where private travel insurance comes in.

Emergency Contacts & Next of Kin

It is important that we can contact you and you can contact us while you abroad. Your College/Unit will request and keep a record of:

- Your contact information while abroad
- Emergency contact / next of kin contacts for you

Do not depart without providing these.

If there are updates while you are away - of address or phone numbers for example - then please inform your College/School asap.

You will be given a primary NUI Galway contact prior to departure.

Ongoing communication while you are away will be normally conducted via your NUI Galway email address.

Medical Emergency

If serious injury or illness occurs, immediately seek medical treatment at the closest medical facility and, if relevant, notify your host organisation staff right away – i.e. your host university or employer main contact.

Alert your primary NUI Galway College/School contact.

Notify your personal health care provider and /or insurer of your medical treatment. 

In an emergency, always seek treatment first.

In case of emergencies you can contact this NUI, Galway 24/7 phone number: 086 8252612

Political Unrest/Natural Disaster

Contact the nearest Irish Embassy or consular service (, or the embassy of your country of citizenship.

Alert your NUI Galway College/School primary contact.

In case of emergencies you can contact this NUI, Galway 24/7 phone number: 086 8252612

Finding Accommodation

You are responsible for organising your accommodation abroad. NUI Galway cannot provide this service. However, each host university will have an Accommodation Office with detailed knowledge of the local area and the available options; that office will therefore be well placed to offer appropriate advice and support to incoming international students.

Student Residence

Most universities will have student residences. These tend to book up quickly so apply as early as possible. You will normally need to complete a booking form in advance. NUI Galway students who previously attended your host university may be able to recommend a particular student residence. You may be requested to pay a deposit in advance - pay this on time to avoid disappointment. Your rental contract will most likely oblige you to pay in full for each month, even if you might not be there for all of the final month. Be aware that in many cases, student residences are managed by agencies external to the university, so that the university itself may have little control over the allocation of rooms.

It is worth noting that some student accommodation abroad may not be of a very high standard and may be located a distance from the university. You may find that cooking utensils are not provided and that a number of people could be sharing communal cooking and bathroom areas. If you are not comfortable with this, you may be better advised to seek accommodation in the private sector. Research your options thoroughly and speak to returned students before you make a final decision.

Private Accommodation

If you decide to rent accommodation on the private market, you should only do so after having viewed the premises in person: never pre-book over the internet, especially where a deposit is requested. Accommodation scams are becoming increasingly common, and you stand to lose a substantial amount of money in this way.

You will likely need to arrive at least one week before the term start to commence your search. This may mean booking into a hotel or hostel. Visit the university’s Accommodation Office, as the staff there will be able to  give you advice. Try to find out about different neighbourhoods in terms of their safety and their proximity to the university, and get an idea of the going rates for monthly rent. You are also advised to be careful signing contracts – read the small print. And remember that it is not advisable to accept accommodation if you have any reservations about the security and safety of the property.

Once you have secured your accommodation, make a note of and report anything damaged or missing. If, during your stay, you cause damage to the property, the cost of repairs will be deducted from your deposit. If you encounter issues such as mould or mildew, be sure to notify the landlord/agency/manager so that this is dealt with promptly.

General Advice

Students who live at home while attending university in Galway may find the search for accommodation the most daunting aspect of the stay abroad. However, with careful and early planning most students won’t have any major problems.

Here are some points worth considering:

  • What types of accommodation options are available and what is the cost of each option?
  • What forms are needed to book accommodation, and what is the deadline?
  • What deposit, if any, is required in advance?
  • What facilities (toilet, shower, cooking, etc) are available? Are they shared?
  • Is bed linen, etc. supplied or will you need to bring/buy your own?
  • Is the property furnished?
  • Are utility bills (electricity, gas, etc) included in the rent?
  • From what date will accommodation be available?
  • Will you be bound by a contract, and for how long?
  • What are the opening hours of reception in student residences? (If you are arriving outside of office hours, you may need to make advance arrangements to gain access to your room.)

Essential Documents

In most cases you will need the following items for registration purposes in the host university. Take a few copies as you will probably have to present them on various different occasions.

  • Your passport, and a supply of passport photographs
  • Correspondence stating that your home university has nominated you as a study abroad student. In the case of Erasmus students this issued by the International Office.
  • A confirmation of your acceptance at the host university, if applicable
  • Proof of your private travel insurance
  • Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), if applicable.
  • In some cases (e.g. for France), you may need a copy of your birth certificate. If a translated version is needed your academic department can help you with this.

It’s also advisable to have some copies of your NUI Galway student card and NUI Galway registration statement documents which can help verify your student status. If you have them, you may also bring your International Student Identity Card (ISIC) and driving licence and copies of them, and any other IDs, club memberships, recreational certification or licences you may have.

Staying in touch with NUI Galway

E-mail will be our principal means of official communication with you while you are away, and your address is the one that we will use for bringing you any news, e.g. messages from your College/School, advice and reminders, grant information (if applicable), etc.

Please ensure that you check your college e-mail account regularly and that you monitor your spam/junk e-mail folder too, as important messages can end up there.

Keep an eye on the International Office website for major updates. Your College/School may provide you with other weblinks or Facebook groups to keep you connected.

For Erasmus students, keep an eye on

General Advice For Studying / Working Abroad

  • Plan ahead, talk things through with your academic coordinator and ask them to put you in touch with former students and with students from partner universities/organisations who are currently studying here at NUI Galway. Former students can sometimes give the best practical advice.
  • Do research about your destination and it will pay off. Look at as many sources of information as possible and get a picture of what your experience will look like. Consider it through the lenses of culture, learning, social interactions, leisure, safety, and unique opportunities at your destination.
  • Consult the website of your host university organisation abroad, to get an idea of the courses on offer as well as general information on the institution and the town or city.
  • Students are normally advised to book flights well in advance to ensure the cheapest rates, checking the academic calendar of the host university organisation to ensure that they will arrive in time for the beginning of term.
  • If an orientation programme or language course is offered, it is strongly recommended that you attend these, and make your travel arrangements accordingly.
  • If your host university/organisation offers a Buddy Programme, do consider taking advantage of it.
  • Find out about other students that may be going to the same destination as you. Try to travel in pairs or in a group, as this will make it cheaper for taxis and also safer in terms of luggage supervision.
  • Be vigilant at rail and bus stations and keep a close eye on your luggage.
  • Keep valuables out of sight and keep cash and credit cards in zipped pockets or in a secure money belt worn inside your clothes.
  • Find out if any areas of your host city are considered unsafe and avoid them if possible.
  • Have a list of important telephone contact numbers and the number of your credit/bank card as well as the bank’s emergency number, and keep these details about your person or in a safe place, in case you are unfortunate enough to lose your wallet or mobile phone.
  • Be aware that in many countries, local transport tickets purchased from a machine must be punched to validate them – if you are caught travelling without a valid ticket, you may have to pay a substantial fine.
  • If you have pre-booked accommodation in a university residence, check its opening hours for key collection (reception might be closed in the evenings or at weekends).
  • Make sure that when you arrive in your host country you have sufficient funds for your initial expenses. Note that, in relation to accommodation, you may have to pay a deposit plus a month’s rent in advance.
  • If, at the time of moving into your accommodation, you notice anything broken or damaged in the room/apartment, make sure the owner or caretaker is aware of it, or you could find yourself liable for repairs when you are leaving.
  • If opening a bank account abroad you may need to produce the following documents: a translated birth certificate, your passport, proof that you are a student, evidence of your address in the host country.
  • If you need to contact your host university/organisation immediately on arrival, remember to check their office opening hours. Staff are not likely to be available at the weekends. It is a good idea to go to offices early in the morning as, in many universities, offices may be closed to the public in the afternoons. (Note: it’s a good idea to check the host university’s international office website, in order to find out if and when staff may be available to meet you in person.)
  • Each university will have an International Office or in some cases an Erasmus Office. When you arrive at your host university, find out where this is located and what its opening hours are. It should be your first point of contact for any non-academic problems you might encounter. If you need to contact home urgently, the staff of this office should be able to assist you in doing so.
  • Notify the host university/ organisation if you have any illness, disability, or learning difficulty that should be brought to the attention of staff.
  • Ensure that you know the name, office address and telephone number of the departmental/academic coordinator in the host university/organisation. You may need to consult this person for assistance.
  • You may find that administrative procedures are extremely bureaucratic in some countries. Remember that it’s the same for all other students and that you shouldn’t get too bothered by it all. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand something.
  • Please follow the general advice given to you by your NUI Galway discipline or academic coordinator regarding the destination that you are going to.
  • If you have concerns about any academic/placement issue, be sure to contact your NUI Galway academic coordinator as early as possible.
  • If problems other than academic ones arise, please inform the NUI Galway International Office – we’re here to help, if possible, but we cannot help you if we are not made aware of any difficulties!
  • Try to find out as much as you can in advance about the culture and customs of the host country. Even then, you may well experience culture shock or homesickness initially. This is a common reaction to a new environment but if you allow yourself a couple of weeks to make the transition, and if you are open-minded in your approach, you will most likely find that you will settle in quite quickly.
  • The time abroad will go by more quickly than you imagine, so make the most of it. Take advantage of any events or activities that are organised for visiting students, try to integrate as best you can with native students, and, if you are a language student, resist the temptation to socialise with other native English speakers. Make use of any opportunities to travel at weekends or during holiday periods, and see as much as you can of the host country. An International Student Identity Card (ISIC) can be useful for obtaining reductions on travel, entertainment, sightseeing, etc.
  • Remember that you are bound by the regulations and the code of conduct of both the host university and of NUI Galway. You are ambassadors for your country and your University and it is expected that you show respect for the host country, its people and its customs. For instance, there is no doubt that socialising and making friends are important aspects of the study abroad experience, but in many countries you will find that alcohol plays a less prominent role in these activities than it does in Ireland. Bear in mind that you are in an unfamiliar environment, and that excessive alcohol or drug consumption may lead to unpleasant incidents and even jeopardise your personal safety.
  • Please be mindful of your neighbours and/or housemates and respect their need for peace and quiet at night.
  • Keep your accommodation clean and tidy and respect the property and its furnishings, or you may be fined or have your deposit withheld at the end of your stay.
  • While you are abroad please remember to stay in regular contact with your family. When you travel abroad, your loved ones will be anxious to know that you have arrived safely and are settling in well. A quick phone call, text or message will put their minds at ease.
  • If any significant incidents occur in your host country or city, make sure that your family know that you are safe. Follow any instructions given by the authorities, and if you have concerns, get in touch with staff at your host university’s international office, who will be able to give you appropriate advice.
  • Your personal safety is vitally important. Take care not to put yourself in any situations where you might be at risk. Especially when socialising or travelling, make sure that some friend always knows of your whereabouts, and take care never to be out alone at night.

Pre-departure Checklist

  • Check your passport is valid for 6 months after you return and determine if you need a visa.
  • Complete and return all required documentation to your host university/organisation.
  • Learn about your destination (see section below for resources).
  • Research, complete and submit the Mobility Assessment. Use it as a prompt to help you consider and plan your experience abroad. Update it if circumstances change before you depart.
  • Review, understand and submit the Student Declaration.
  • Attend a minimum of one NUI Galway pre-departure preparation sessions.
  • Confirm arrangements for any medical needs, including prescription supply and immunisations, PCR testing or quarantines.
  • Understand your health insurance coverage and bring and the emergency number of your provider.
  • Know your financial needs (check your budget and that your banking will work in your destination).
  • Share a copy of your itinerary with family or a friend.
  • Research how you will get from the airport to your accommodation.
  • Bring copies / photographs of important documents (including spare passport pics).
  • Look into mobile phones and communicating (do you need a local sim?).
  • Consider security on your laptop, smartphone (e.g. create secure wireless connections, remove unnecessary confidential data).
  • Consider personal property insurance and what belongings are covered.
  • Be aware that NUI Galway standards of conduct apply while you are abroad.

For Erasmus Students please also note:

  • Complete and submit your Outgoing Erasmus Grant Application Form.
  • Take the language assessment if applicable, and register for the OLS language course.
  • Complete and sign the Grant Agreement and return them promptly before you go on Erasmus.
  • Bring your European Health Insurance Card.
  • Join the NUI Galway Erasmus Facebook group for your year.
  • Return a copy of your Learning Agreement to your academic coordinator.
  • Return the Grant Acknowledgement Form for each grant instalment that you receive to the Erasmus Office.

Learning About Your Destination

General, Wellbeing, Health and Security
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Information and travel advice per country
World Health Organisation Health advice
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control Health information
European Union 
Travel Security Site per country with risk ratings
Irish Embassy & Consulate contacts
Practice being aware of your surroundings (aka ‘situational awareness’)

Practical Information
Currency conversion and exchange rates:  XE
Electrical information, including whether converters or adaptors may be needed:  Voltage Valet
Time zones, holidays, and weather:  The Time Now
International dialling codes:

Country Guides
Fodor’s Travel
Rough Guides
Moon Travel Guides

Resources for Students Traveling with a Disability

We encourage you to thoroughly research your chosen university/organisation and make contact with the Disability Support Service (or equivalent) there to discuss what supports you can avail of while abroad.  Please be aware that supports you have received in NUI Galway may differ from those provided at your host so it is important to make contact with them as soon as possible to clarify this.

There is an Erasmus+ Grant which provides additional funding to students with a disability who wish to travel abroad - please see below for more information.

We are happy to meet with you to discuss any concerns you may have regarding going abroad – please email us on to arrange a meeting. Contact for guidance on additional funding for students with a disability going on the Erasmus Programme.

Other links:
NUI Galway Disability Support Service
Erasmus Student Network – which links students on Erasmus programmes
AHEAD – information for students with disabilities considering travelling abroad to study

Resources for LGBTQ Travellers

It is important to be aware of the laws pertaining to same-sex relationships in your host country as well as the popular attitudes toward the LGBTQ community. You should try to talk with other students who have travelled to the same destination you will be visiting.

You may also want to consult the following websites:
Outright Action International 
International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association
International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association Travel Services Finder

Resources for Women Travellers

These websites contain country-specific guidance for women traveling abroad:
Journey Woman
Transitions Abroad