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Leading group travel

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If you are planning to lead a group on a trip overseas, there are several things you must consider:

Obtain approvals for your travel from your school and department. Many departments require a detailed written request (goals, itinerary, logistics, etc.) 6 months prior to travel. Contact your department for more information. If you are leading a group that includes any Emory College students, you should also contact the Office of International and Summer Programs (OISP).

  1. Review Emory’s legal primer, travel and expense policy, and business and research guidelines.
  2. Confirm that you and all members of your group traveling have up-to-date passports. Secure visas as needed. Recommend that family members have current passports in case they are needed in an emergency.
  3. Review immunization needs well in advance, allowing enough time for certain vaccines to take effect. Please visit Emory’s TravelWell Clinic to speak with a travel health professional regarding your itinerary. Make sure all group members obtain health insurance that can be used overseas.
  4. Book your travel using Emory’s Travel Authority. Make sure to use a reputable travel company to arrange for in-country transportation and choose the safest accommodations. If you are renting a car, review driver’s license and insurance requirements.
  5. Consult ISOS for in-country information, required immunizations, and travel warnings and safety tips. 
  6. Conduct at least one orientation for your participants prior to your trip to review the following:
  • Logistics: what to bring, required documentation, immunizations, in-country information, etc.
  • Walk through ISOS and its services. Illustrate how best to use ISOS prior to, during, and after your trip.
  • Provide a thorough written checklist of expectations and goals for the trip. Ensure that all participants have reviewed this checklist.
  • Obtain emergency contact information from your group members and determine whether participation releases are needed. Contact the Office of General Counsel for more information.
  • Communicate to participants the total cost associated with the trip and identify means to provide assistance for anyone who cannot meet these costs.
  • Recommend that group members have cell phones that work internationally.
  1. Create a profile for yourself in ISOS and ensure each group member creates an ISOS profile as well. Each profile should include flight/itinerary information at a minimum. It is recommended that travelers also upload key travel information to their ISOS profiles, such as passport and visa copies, important medical information (e.g., blood type, allergies, copies of prescriptions), and emergency contacts.
  2. Develop an emergency plan. ISOS can assist you with specific details, e.g. appropriate hospitals to use.
  3. Collect signed liability waivers. A liability waiver must be signed by any student embarking on Emory-sponsored travel abroad. If your program does not already have a program-specific waiver that has been reviewed and approved by Emory’s Office of the General Counsel (OGC), the form found at the link above can be used. Any changes made to this form, beyond filling in trip-specific information in the blanks provided, must be submitted to Chris Rapalje in the Office of Global Strategy and Initiatives, who will obtain OGC review. This form is updated periodically, so please check back whenever planning a new trip. Completed waivers should be provided to an appropriate administrative official at the student’s school.
  4. Keep electronic and physical copies of key documents. Keep one set of copies on site and one set back at Emory. Advise travelers to bring hard copies of passports, visas, and any other important documentation (e.g., prescriptions). 
  5. Conduct an in-country orientation once you have arrived at your destination to review the following:
  • Review the logistics, goals, and expectations covered prior to the trip.
  • Communicate all contingency plans to the group. Ensure that all travelers know what to do in case of emergency.
  • If anyone is traveling on their own during the trip, make sure to obtain their itinerary.
  1. Have the following with you at all times: ISOS membership card, the nearest U.S. embassy contact information, your department emergency contact number, and a charged cell phone that works abroad.


Chris Rapalje
Director, Programs and Services
Office of Global Strategy and Initiatives

Sarah Harlan
Assistant Director, Global Services
Office of Global Strategy and Initiatives