International Students Give Travel Advice

Travel Advice from International Students Studying Abroad

A group of international students shares their travel advice from adventures around the US.  Every year a group of foreign students comes to Grossmont College to learn English. They enroll in the American Collegiate English (ACE) program to study here in San Diego.  If you’re interested in learning more about learning English in beautiful San Diego, check them out on facebook, or here’s a link to learn more about their program; maybe enroll and come for a visit

Over spring break many of them took some time to travel around the US and have some adventures using their new found English skills. Upon their return they had a writing assignment from their teacher; “what advice do you have for other exchange students?”  What follows are some of the travel lessons learned while on Spring Break this year. Some of them are basic, some of them are funny, others expensive, but all of them valuable. Here is what they would like to share with other inexperienced travelers:

“Don’t forget your wallet when you leave!”

I always forget my wallet because I am used to going everywhere with my family, and they always pay everything for me. One day I walked very far from my host family’s house to the bus stop. When I saw the bus coming, I opened my bag to get my money, but I didn’t have my wallet! I had to walk all the way back to get it and I missed my first class.

  • Chonnikarn from Thailand

“Don’t forget to bring a charger and an extra battery for your cell phone and tablet!”

I forgot mine while traveling in the countryside where there were not many hotels or shops. When I realized I needed them, I could only find one shop that sold such items and they were double the normal price.

  • Chikako from China

Medicne bottle with japanese text








“Bring some medicine from home!”

If you need medicine, you may not recognize the names of the medicines in a foreign country, or they may affect you differently because they are not the same as you are used to. When I went to Guam, I went whale watching and I was worried about seasickness. I bought some medicine for motion sickness, but it was too strong and made me so sleepy I didn’t even see a dolphin before I fell asleep!

  • Chikako from China

“Bring a good backpack to keep all your important things with you.”

When I traveled in Chengdu, someone stole my phone and all my cash. I had to borrow a stranger’s phone to call my mom so she could send me money to buy a new phone. After that, I always keep all my important things in a backpack with me wherever I go.

  • Yang from China

Dog at lake

“Don’t be afraid to travel with your dog!”

I took my dog on a trip to Big Bear Lake in California. It was the first time I traveled with my dog. Before I went there I searched for a place to rent that lets you bring a dog. It was easy on the phone and my dog and I enjoyed the lake. It is an interesting experience to travel with your dog!

  • Yang from China

“Do not forget cash!”

I met my friend for lunch, but I couldn’t divide the bill with her because I didn’t have cash.

  • Asami from Japan

“Make a good schedule before you go.”

I was traveling with a friend and she didn’t make any plans in advance. For example, we went to see a museum and found out when we arrived that it was closed on that day. I regretted missing it. From now on I make sure to research where I am going first!

  • Asami from Japan

“Take your hotel key everywhere you go.”

Card key hotel room door

When I went to Los Angeles, I didn’t know that the door of the hotel room could lock automatically, so I got locked out of my own room. I asked for a copy of the key, but the receptionist couldn’t give me one because the room was not reserved in my name. My friend who was traveling with me had made the reservation, so I had to wait until I found him later that night to get back into my room.

  • Merve from Democratic Republic of Congo

“Book your hotel and plane ticket in advance.“

I tried to get a plane ticket and a hotel room the day before I left and was surprised that it cost twice as much as usual!

  • Merve from the Democratic Republic of Congo

fancy hotel room

Vietnamese passport

“Don’t leave your passport behind!” 

I traveled to Los Angeles during Spring Break and I forgot to take my passport. I didn’t need it at my friend’s house where I was staying, but then I couldn’t buy any drinks or go to any clubs because I didn’t have an I.D.! Also, if you stay in a hotel you must have a passport.

  • Van Phan from Vietnam

“Bring headphones!”

I traveled to Thailand last year and stayed in a hotel that had very thin walls. Also, there were many noisy passengers on my plane, which really annoys me. So I am always prepared with a pair of headphones to plug into my phone.

  • Van Phan from Vietnam

“Always bring your own toiletries.”

frog with toothbrush and paste

Bring your toothbrush and toothpaste, shampoo, body wash, and towels. Even if your hotel is a luxury hotel! I was used to Asian hotels that have everything for their guests. But some hotels in America don’t provide everything. My parents and I were shocked that the 4-star hotel we stayed at in Las Vegas didn’t have toothbrushes, toothpaste, or a hair dryer like other hotels.

  • Khanh Pham from Vietnam

“Keep an extra empty personal bag in your luggage.”

At the airport my luggage was overweight. They told me I had to pay an additional $50 or remove 6 lbs of stuff from my luggage.  I took out a jacket that I could wear, but it wasn’t enough. I didn’t know what I could take out and carry with only two hands! Luckily, I found a plastic bag and I could remove 2 pairs of shoes and it was enough. I didn’t have to pay more.

  • Khanh Pham from Vietnam

long airport lines

“Check your check-in time.”    

When I flew to Toronto, Canada, I did not check the check-in time of my flight. I arrived at the airport 55 minutes before departure, but I could not check in because the airline has a rule that passengers should check in one hour before departure. As a result, I missed the plane, and I had to pay an extra $200 dollars for another flight.
—Junho from South Korea

Thank you to all of you for your valuable advice! It is much appreciated and I hope you have had a wonderful time here learning English at Grossmont with Ms. Leah Cooper. I hope you come back!

While none of our intrepid explorers got sick or injured on their trip, many of them came with international health insurance plans that would have worked to pay medical bills here in the USA. Getting health insurance for your J1 Visa or for a vacation or a stay at a high school or University in the United States or when going abroad is always a good idea.  To check out all the exchange student plans available check out the link here.

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