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Checklist for Group Travel Abroad

This checklist is designed to guide faculty and staff who are leading or organizing group trips abroad. Group travel is defined as faculty or staff traveling on the same itinerary with three or more students. These are the five areas of responsibly for each international trip:

  1. The International Travel Registry
  2. Traveler Compliance
  3. International Health Insurance
  4. Risk Assessment / Mitigation
  5. Trip Leader Training

After reviewing this checklist, contact the appropriate Office of Global Safety and Security (OGSS) staff member to engage in collaborative planning:

  • For group trips of Undergraduate students (or mixed student status): contact Andrea Mendoza
  • For group trips of Graduate or Professional students: contact Beth Osterlund

The International Travel Registry

  • Northwestern requires all university-sponsored student travel – graduate and undergraduate – to be registered with the university. With this information, Northwestern can provide timely information and support in case of an emergency abroad. Trip leaders / organizers should start by reviewing the instructions for Enrolling a Group Trip. Group travel should be registered at least six weeks prior to departure. 

Traveler Compliance

  • Trip leaders or trip organizers are responsible for monitoring the completion of their travelers’ trip requirements within the ITR. Some schools, such as Medill and Kellogg, have “trip organizers” that plan and manage group trips.
  • Northwestern’s goal is to strive for 100% compliance regarding signature documents such as the Student Agreement and the High-Risk Release (if applicable). While these requirements are not time-consuming for students, trip leaders or organizers should set a firm deadline, monitor progress, and issue reminders. Instructions for monitoring compliance and composing reminders are provided below.

Monitoring Group Trip Compliance as a Trip Leader
Monitoring Group Trip Compliance as a Trip Organizer

International Health Insurance

  • All non-Kellogg students must be enrolled in Northwestern's GeoBlue for Students for the duration of the trip. The cost is less than $14 per week. To enroll students, the trip leader or organizer can follow instructions for Enrolling Group Trips in GeoBlue.  In this scenario, the department or administrative unit pays for the insurance. This process does not apply to Kellogg, who is piloting a blanket plan that automatically covers all its travelers.
  • Benefits-eligible Northwestern employees are covered for the duration of the trip under the GeoBlue Employee business traveler policy. Read about the plan eligibility, limitations and complete the one-time registration to access information on doctors, clinics and hospitals in the trip destination.

Risk Assessment / Mitigation

  • Read the applicable U.S. Department of State (DOS) Travel Advisories and consider the potential risks associated with your trip as well as reasonable mitigation strategies.
  • For higher risk locations or activities, we may wish to seek travel security advice from our intelligence assistance provider, Crisis24, during the planning stages. Contact the applicable OGSS staff member listed above.
  • If the trip involves undergraduates, and the destination is on the restricted travel list, the trip leader must apply for Travel Permission.
  • Develop a pre-departure orientation or handout to advise students on foreseeable risks and how to get help in an emergency while abroad.
  • Have at least one trip leader register the trip with the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive local safety updates from the nearest embassy or consulate.
  • Confirm your safe arrival with your departmental contact and encourage participants to check-in with their families.

Trip Leader(s) Training

  • Regardless of the destination or duration of a university-sponsored trip abroad, faculty and staff trip leaders are required to participate in a one-hour emergency preparedness and response Trip Leader Training, remotely or in person. See OGSS Events for specific dates and times. Returning trip leaders are expected to participate in training at least every two years.