Psst! Studying Abroad Might Help You Land a Job
It turns out that studying abroad offers more than just international hookups and easy, legal access to booze before the age of 21. According to a recent survey by the online hostel-booking platform Hostelworld, which provides students and budget travelers alike with cheap accommodations and the opportunity to rub elbows with people from all over the world, those who spend time across the pond in university may have an advantage in the hiring process. Before you dust off your passport and start planning your escape, here's what you need to know.
SWING THE VOTE IN YOUR FAVOR
To be sure, studying abroad requires a measure of privilege, but for those who can afford it, the experience may help them stand out in a crowded job market. Like any travelers who spend an extensive amount of time overseas, students who immerse themselves in a new place return with a bevy of marketable skills, from a strong sense of cultural literacy and the ability to adjust to uncomfortable situations to increased people skills and a working knowledge of the global economy. More than a thousand U.S. hiring professionals participated in Hostelworld’s online survey, and 25 percent of them said that studying abroad makes students better at adapting to their environments and gives them a solid foundation for understanding global businesses. Almost a third of respondents actively look for applicants who have studied abroad, with 23.3 percent reporting that if it came down to two equally qualified candidates, they’d choose the one who had lived or traveled internationally.
ADD VALUE TO YOUR CANDIDACY
Not that college kids need much of an excuse to spend a semester or two off-campus, but there are monetary incentives to consider as well. Study-abroad students may find themselves on the upper end of the pay scale: 41 percent of the employers surveyed would consider making a better offer to someone who has studied abroad, and 16 percent say they’d definitely command a higher salary.
PICK THE BEST DESTINATION FOR YOUR GOALS(Stephane Debove/Dreamstime)
It’s not all fun in the sun, though. Undergrads looking for a leg up on the competition would do well to consider which port of call will serve them best in the coming years, and—spoiler alert!—the sandy beaches of the Caribbean probably won't do the trick. Given China’s ever-growing economic power and the proliferation of Americans doing business there, Hong Kong and the mainland are popular with hiring personnel, as are Paris, London, and Mexico City.
Take Control of Weather-Related Flight Delays and Cancellations
Nobody wants their vacation delayed before it even starts. But bad weather can sometimes keep planes grounded. Worse, some airlines—and sometimes even hotels and rental-car companies—will invoke bad weather, or "Acts of God" as an excuse for cancellations that may actually be due to mechanical problems or other mishaps. Why would an airline blame the weather for a delay or cancellation? Airlines are not legally obligated to provide travelers with lodging or meals if a delay or cancellation is due to weather. But you are not powerless in these situations. Here, The Air Traveler's Take-Control Cheat Sheet: RESEARCH WEATHER AND CONTINGENCY PLANS In the days before you fly, check a reliable source such as The Weather Channel for weather forecasts for your departing airport, any connecting stops, and your destination. Also, as a precaution, keep a list of hotels at each of those airports (an app such as Hotel Tonight can put this info at your fingertips). Oh, and stock up on chocolate bars for your carry-on bag (more on that later). STAY INFORMED Check on your flight before you leave the house or on your way to the airport. For most people, the nastiest thing about a flight delay or cancellation is that punch-in-the-gut moment when you're standing in front of an airport monitor learning that your vacation is not going to start on time. Use TripAdvisor's GateGuru app to check weather conditions and flight schedules before you get to the airport. (And make sure you've got chocolate in your carry-on!) YOU'LL GET BETTER SERVICE IF YOU'RE NICE If your flight is cancelled or delayed, immediately call the airline's reservations number or visit a gate agent. Whoever you speak with, treat them like your new Travel BFF—sure, you're stressed, but a friendly, calm approach (and a complimentary chocolate bar!) may go a long way. Be the customer who isn't throwing a tantrum! Ask to be booked on the next available flight. If you are worried about missing a connecting flight, tell them—airlines can sometimes offer special services to connecting passengers. If no flights are available, politely ask for a hotel and meal voucher—no, they are not obligated to give them to you, but just might anyway because you were as sweet as the chocolate you offered them. BE A LITTLE NOSY Some travelers like to ask—politely—whether the delay is purely due to weather or perhaps a "combination of weather and other factors." If your airline rep admits that some other factor, such as mechanical problems, is at play, repeat your polite request for hotel and meal vouchers. (But please don't invoke the legendary "Rule 240," which some travelers believe obligates airlines to book them on the next available flight, or a flight on a competing airline. A holdover from the days when airlines where more heavily regulated, Rule 240 won't mean much to most airline personnel these days.) If you are fairly certain that weather was unfairly cited as the cause of a flight delay or cancellation, you can hire a forensic meteorologist to match your flight data with weather conditions and make the case that you are owed compensation for hotel and meals. ASK FOR A "DISTRESSED TRAVELER" RATE If, despite your best efforts, you are stuck checking into a hotel while you wait for a hurricane, blizzard, or volcanic ash to blow over, ask the hotel if they offer a "distressed traveler" rate. The Hotel Tonight app specializes in last-minute bookings and can really help in these emergency situations. BE INSURANCE-SAVVY We get asked all the time if travel insurance can protect you from weather-related cancellations. We recommend that you carefully review conventional travel insurance policies due to their high prices and relatively low reimbursement rates. But if you are booking a package tour or cruise, you can often purchase an affordable policy that allows you to cancel for any reason at any time. And if you're traveling anywhere remotely off the grid, appropriate insurance for medical evacuation should be on your list.PACK YOUR CARRY-ON FOR AN EMERGENCY We recommend always packing a carry-on with “emergency” items, but it is especially important when weather threatens your travel plans. Keep a change of clothes, a jacket, and all medication you might need in your carry-on. A sleeping mask and ear plugs are also valuable items to carry with you - they don’t take up much weight, but they are solid gold to have if you need to catch some zzz’s at the airport.
Travel 101: Read This Before You Buy Trip Insurance
Do you need travel insurance? When a natural disaster strikes—such as the hurricanes, floods, mud slides, and wildfires that have hit the U.S. in recent years—travel arrangements get disrupted across the country. Airports shut down. Highways close. Sadly, now is a good time to get up to speed on travel insurance. When you’re traveling, it’s important to have the proper protection in case something goes wrong, like a flight cancellation, lost luggage, or medical emergency. Yet only 21% of Americans purchase travel insurance, according to a study from The Points Guy. Why? “When people are planning a trip, they don’t plan for the unexpected,” says John Cook, founder of QuoteWright.com, a travel insurance comparison site. “They don’t think about the risks that are associated with travel.” Christopher Elliott, a consumer advocate and co-founder of the advocacy group Travelers United, agrees: “People don’t think twice about buying car insurance or homeowner’s insurance, but a lot of people just overlook travel insurance,” he says. Another reason people don’t purchase travel insurance is because “it can be a complicated topic, which can make the product less accessible for a lot of people,” says Stan Sandberg, co-founder of TravelInsurance.com, a U.S. travel insurance provider Granted, travel insurance isn’t right for everyone. Whether you should purchase it will ultimately depend on the type of trip you’re planning, what type of coverage you need, and how much you’re willing to spend. Here’s what you need to know before you purchase travel insurance. There are two types of travel insurance You have “named peril” policies and “cancel for any reason” policies. A named peril policy only offers coverage for certain events, or “perils,” such as a cancelled flight, lost luggage, or death in the family prior to the trip. Each policy spells out exactly what’s covered and what’s not (these are called “exclusions”), says Cook. The second type of travel insurance is a “cancel for any reason” policy, which is exactly like it sounds—the insurance company will pay you a percentage of any nonrefundable travel expenses regardless of why you cancel your trip. Naturally, this extra coverage costs more; Cook says it can add up to another 50% of the cost of the insurance policy. But be aware you won’t get reimbursed for the full costs of your trip. “Generally, you get $0.75 on the dollar,” Cook says, “but there’s a blackout period of two days before your departure during which you can’t cancel for any reason.” Therefore, you still need to be diligent and find out what your “cancel for any reason” insurance plan would cover. Planning an international trip? Buy medical coverage Most health insurance policies, including Medicare, don’t offer medical coverage when you’re traveling outside the U.S., which is why Elliott strongly recommends buying medical coverage. Typically, covered medical expenses are costs incurred for necessary services and supplies, such as a doctor’s visit, prescription drugs, or hospital stay, but coverage will depend on the type of policy you buy. One thing you want to make sure you get is coverage for an emergency medical evacuation, since it can cost you “well over $100,000 if you don’t have coverage,” Cook says. “It’s especially important if you’re going on a rock-climbing trip or something adventurous,” he adds. You may already be covered Some credit cards offer trip cancellation, medical, and/or baggage insurance if you pay for the trip with the card. For example, if your travel is interrupted or canceled due to injury, sickness, severe weather or other conditions, you can be reimbursed for prepaid travel expenses such as flights and hotel rooms for up to $10,000 per trip with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. However, some credit cards only offer “very basic coverage,” says Cook, so be careful when evaluating what coverage your credit card company provides. Typically, there’s a limit for expenses incurred from flight cancellation If your flight gets cancelled, your travel insurance company will normally provide for lodging arrangements, meals, and transportation to and from the airport so that you're not stuck in an airport waiting for your next flight. (That’s assuming the airline doesn’t pay for these costs.) But policies have coverage limits. “With most policies, you get up to $150 a day per person,” Cook says. (Read: you better review your policy before you check into the Four Seasons!) Keep your receipts Let’s say your luggage gets lost or stolen. If you purchased baggage coverage, you’ll most likely have to pay for essential items (e.g., clothes, toiletries) out of pocket and then submit a claim to the insurance company when you get home. However, you’ll need to submit receipts to get reimbursed. “If it’s under $100, you [typically] just email the receipts and the company will transfer the money to your debit card or cut you a check,” Elliott says. “It’s a fast process.” If it’s a large claim though, you may have to submit the paperwork by mail and it could take several days for the insurance company to process the claim. The moral: before you leave for your trip, make sure you have enough cash with you (or on your debit card) to pay for essential items. Why travel insurance costs vary Cook says travel insurance prices are based on three factors: your age, the cost of your trip (generally in $500 increments), and the length of your trip if you’re traveling for more than 30 days. Hence, the same travel insurance policy (assuming it has medical coverage) could cost a 70-year-old person more than it would a millennial, since older people have more health risks. In general, however, travel insurance costs 5% to 7% of the price of the vacation, says the Insurance Information Institute, so a $5,000 trip would cost roughly $250 to $350 to insure. Travel a lot? Consider buying an annual policy If you’re a frequent business traveler or take more than two vacations a year, it may be worth purchasing an annual travel insurance plan, Elliott says. Most annual plans offer a year's worth of protection for medical, property, and trip costs. You can use a website like QuoteWright.com, TravelInsurance.com, or SquareMouth.com to compare policies. Of course, you always want to read the fine print—and don’t simply sign up for the cheapest policy. As Sandberg says, “travelers need to find the right plan, at the right price for them.”
Traveling With a Disability: What You Need to Know
Consumer Affairs recently reported that the Government Accountability Office, an independent federal watchdog agency, found that in the air travel industry, disability-related complaints doubled from 2005 to 2015, topping out at more 30,000 complaints for the most recent year that data was available. The situation for disabled travelers is never simple, but with growing public awareness and activists working for change, the future might hold and easier trip for everyone. Shrinking aircrafts, growing problems In airlines’ efforts to pack more passengers into each flight, one thing that’s been sacrificed is bathroom space. In the newer model planes that are flown by Delta, United, and American, bathrooms in coach are a meager 24 inches wide. While it’s a struggle for tall or obese people, the task of squeezing into such a compact space can be even more difficult for someone with a physical disability. But according to the aircraft manufacturer, the smaller restroom accommodates six more passenger seats. And that’s to say nothing of shrinking seats and less aisle space in newer-model jets. Disabled passengers’ complaints on the rise Maneuvering an aircraft is only one challenge that physically disabled travelers face. In addition to structural and design limitations, there are plenty of other issues that can be a hassle, if not a nightmare, for people with limited mobility. Earlier in November, Consumer Affairs reported that “customers with disabilities say that they are regularly mistreated during air travel, with one of the more common problems being airline staff that lose or break their personal wheelchairs—leaving passengers who can’t walk completely stranded and without a medical device worth thousands of dollars.” This is especially problematic because unlike lost or mishandled luggage, there are no reporting requirements under federal law for wheelchair damage. But being prepared can lead to a speedier solution should the worst case scenario come to fruition. The Department of Transportation recommends taking a photograph of your wheelchair or assistance device ahead of travel to capture its condition and providing written instructions detailing the disassembly, assembly, and stowage of your device. The federal government’s protections According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s website, a disability is defined as a “physical or mental impairment that impacts a major life activity—such as walking, hearing, or breathing.” This applies to temporary disabilities, like a broken leg, as well as permanent ones. The DOT is responsible for enforcing the Air Carrier Access Act, the federal law that makes it illegal for airlines to discriminate against passengers because of their disability. Airlines are required to provide disabled passengers with various means of assistance, like wheelchairs or other guided help to board, deplane, or connect to another flight. They must also offer seating-accommodation assistance that meets passengers’ individual needs and help with loading and stowing assistive devices. Further protections could be coming down the line. In 2016, the Obama administration said that by 2018, all US airlines would be required “to report on how often they mishandle wheelchairs so air travelers with disabilities can easily compare carriers and make informed travel decisions.” After initial agreement from the airline industry, companies requested the new rules be put on hold under the new administration. Advice from disabled travelers When it comes to planning a trip, accessibility concerns are first and foremost, from hotels and tourist attractions to public transportation and taxis. In interviews recently published by Healthline, a health and wellness website, disabled influencers offered their recommendations for dealing with travel’s many challenges. Vilissa Thompson, a disability rights consultant, writer and activist who founded Ramp Your Voice (rampyourvoice.com), an organization focused on empowerment, notes that when planning a trip, she double-checks her flight reservation days before she flies to make sure her wheelchair use is noted, and she makes it a priority to figure out public transit and airport transfers ahead of time. Cory Lee Woodard, a prolific blogger (curbfreewithcorylee.com), notes that taking direct flights reduces the risk of his wheelchair being damaged. Australia-based blogger Stacey Christie (lovemoxieblog.com) says the best way for disabled passengers to negotiate travel challenges is via personal advice from the many disabled travel blogs on the web. Her own site is a great place to start.
You've seen them at the airport and at the train station; you may know them personally, or you might even be one of them yourself—those people who practically float through the terminal, not a hair out of place or a bead of sweat in sight. The secret to such serenity? Having the right tools for the job, and our picks will do the trick. 1. A Trusty Sidekick (Courtesy Away) Still trying to make it to your gate while lugging a bulky bag and pulling an unwieldy rollaboard? Streamline your approach with Away's trim, handsomely designed tote. Equally appropriate as an under-seat personal item and a weekend-trip carry-all, it has a pocket for everything—laptop, tablet, phone, notebooks, pens, even a wet umbrella—but the external sleeve that slides over your suitcase handle and lets you wheel the two together is the real game-changer. When used on its own, the handles are sturdy and amply padded, and there’s a removable crossbody strap for hands-free shlepping. We like it in the sturdy, water-resistant nylon, but if you’re really looking to splurge, the limited-edition leather versions receive rave reviews too.The Everywhere Bag, from $195; awaytravel.com. 2. An Optical Illusion (Courtesy Spanx) When you’re on the go, leggings are one of the most comfortable things you can put on your body; the downside, of course, is that they rarely look as good as they feel. This faux-leather pair from Spanx will give your travel-day outfit a stylish upgrade: They’re effortless and form-fitting, as leggings should be, but the matte finish makes them look like the real-leather deal, with a gentle sheen instead of the bright, cheap-looking glare of other synthetic fabrics. And not for nothing, the brand best known for its shapewear has a way with spandex. Here, the natural waistband contours and supports for a smooth silhouette, so you’ll seem pulled together, even on the laziest day.Faux leather leggings, from $98; spanx.com. 3. A Versatile Cover-up (Courtesy prAna)Pair your swank new leggings with another travel-day essential: a light, slouchy, easy on-and-off layer that’ll let you breeze through security and keep you cozy in transit. With its loose fit, deep, angled pockets, and stretchy, wrinkle-resistant modal fabric, prAna’s soft, dolman-sleeve cardigan does just that. Stash one in your daypack in case the air-conditioning kicks in or the weather shifts, and you'll be well prepared for frigid temps.Foundation Wrap, $69; prana.com. 4. A Magic Hat (Courtesy Goorin Bros.) Tossing and turning on that overnight flight is bad enough; you shouldn’t have to deal with a wild ‘do on top of a lack of sleep. This trilby-style fedora from Goorin Bros. lets you roll off the plane without giving your hair a second thought: It folds to take up minimal space in your bag and pops back into shape remarkably well, its paper-straw construction and moisture-wicking sweatband combine to keep you from overheating, and its striped-grosgrain ribbon adds a chic touch. And while the straw might lend it a warm-weather vibe, the neutral color palette means it’ll pair with pretty much anything, so it won’t be one of those things you pack and never wear.Keep It Real hat, $50; goorin.com. 5. A Makeup Must-Have (Courtesy Sephora) If you have an extensive skincare regimen or makeup routine, this Sephora Collection organizer is the solution to your packing needs. With elastic loops for your brushes, two removable, vinyl-lined storage cubes for your products, and a flat zippered pouch (also removable), for your toiletries, it’ll hold everything you need for your journey, and you won’t find yourself rummaging around in a bottomless Dopp kit once you hit the hotel bathroom, either. Pro tip: If you’re flying, use the pouch for your liquids and carry it separately, popping it back into the case after you’ve cleared the scanners.Pack It All Organizer, $45; sephora.com. 6. A Clean Sweep (Courtesy RECESS)Feeling less than fresh in flight? This travel kit from Recess comes with an assortment of individually packaged, biodegradable wipes that’ll let you leave your toiletry case in the overhead bin. Try the witch hazel–based face wipes, laced with soothing green-tea extract and revitalizing green-apple extract, to knock out bacteria; the anti-inflammatory aloe wipes to moisturize and heal; and the tea-tree-oil deodorant wipes to knock out nasty odors. They’re all non-comedogenic, so they won’t clog pores, and they’re free of sulfates, parabens, artificial fragrances, and a whole slew of other bad-news ingredients, so you’ll feel safe using them—and won’t offend your fellow passengers in the process.Kit 301: Travel Kit, $26; myrecess.co. 7. A Reliable Rinse (Courtesy the Laundress)Dressing in head-to-toe black is one way of disguising unsightly spills and stains, but to avoid such embarrassments entirely, pack a provisional laundry kit in case of sartorial emergencies. This set from the Laundress includes two-ounce bottles of wrinkle-releasing solution, fabric freshener, and a static-zapping spray, as well as stain packets that work wonders on tannin-heavy substances like coffee and red wine, and a semi-miraculous bar of soap that can be used to pretreat and hand-wash anything that needs it. Why pay to send your delicates out when you can take care of them yourself?On the Spot kit, $31; thelaundress.com.8. A Real Eye-Opener (Courtesy Thrive)Sure, you could use Thrive’s cushy, oversized eye mask en route to your destination, though it’s a bit heavier and bulkier than the ones we normally recommend. But we’ve found that it’s most effective as a recovery tool once you’ve touched down, thanks to its massaging gel beads and hot/cold capabilities. Throw it in your hotel-room microwave and heat it up to treat symptoms of travel stress like headaches, sinus pain, and even soreness from tight shoulders or clenched jaws, or stick it in the freezer for cool relief for puffy, bloodshot eyes. Regardless, it's a soothing, non-prescription restorative for what ails you.Hot/cold eye mask with gel beads, $13; amazon.com. 9. A Tiny Treasury (Courtesy UncommonGoods.com)Don’t fancy sporting the same neckwear each day you’re away? Pack a variety of ties and keep them wrinkle-free with this tidy cylindrical case from UncommonGoods. The vegan-leather caddy holds three at a time, and it’s a mere four-by-three-by-three inches in size, so you won’t sacrifice space in your bag to do so. Grab one for yourself, and gift one to your favorite fashion plate.The Necktie Travel Roll, $24; uncommongoods.com.