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Printable Study Abroad Packing List

Packing for a semester or year abroad can be challenging. Especially when you have that gut feeling that you must be forgetting something! That’s why we’ve put together a handy printable checklist of the items you will need for your journey. This list includes many items that are obvious, but also some things you might not think of. When it comes to packing, especially for a tour with Up with People where you travel to a new city every week, less is more. We recommend taking only one checked bag and a backpack or duffel bag for daily use.

The following is a suggested pre-departure study abroad packing checklist. Up with People study abroad students will also receive a printable pdf with some additional items to pack from their Up with People counselor.

To Download And Print The Following Study Abroad Packing List Click Here.



  • Originals & one photocopy of the following important documents (and leave a second photocopy at home)
  • Your Passport (must be valid for at least six months after the completion of the program), photocopy the photo page and all critical document information
  • Your tourist visa(s), if applicable
  • Your credit or debit card(s) – front and back
  • Your health insurance card or certificate – front and back
  • Your driver’s license or other primary photo identification


  • Prescription glasses/contacts
  • Medications and prescriptions you take regularly
  • Alarm clock (battery operated or solar; not a plug-in clock)
  • A watch or time-telling device
  • Plug adaptor(s) for electrical items (check for international voltage and electrical outlet information)
  • Toiletries – toothpaste/brush, shampoo, soap, deodorant, sanitary items
  • Water Bottle
  • Host family thank you cards (if you are staying in host families like participants in Up with People)
  • Personal items to share about you & your home with host families


  • Camera, camera battery and charger
  • Technology: cell phone, laptop, tablet and/or e-reader


  • Underwear (two weeks’ worth)
  • Socks (two weeks’ worth plus a pair or two of wool socks)
  • Undershirts
  • Thermal underwear
  • Long sleeve shirts
  • Short sleeve shirts
  • Sweatshirt/ hoodie (2-3)
  • Sweaters
  • Jeans/ Khakis (2-3 pair)
  • Shorts
  • A belt or two
  • Tunic shirts or dresses (for girls)
  • A set or two of workout clothes
  • Pajamas
  • Swimsuit (for those going to warmer climates)
  • Coat/Jacket (We recommend at least 2 – one for cold weather, and one that is water resistant)
  • At least one nice outfit for formal occasions
  • Flip flops/ sandals of some sort
  • Sneakers/ dress shoes/ boots/ rain boots
  • Cold weather gear (i.e. gloves/ mittens, hat, scarf)

For more information about Up with People’s multi-country study abroad program visit


Short-Term Study Abroad

A fast-growing segment in the study-abroad market is the short term (one- to two-week) study abroad option, often falling just after Spring term at many colleges and universities. According to the 2017 Open Doors® Report on Study Abroad short-term study abroad participation has grown over the past 5 years. The reasons for this increase include mounting education costs and more demanding academic requirements leaving many students feeling like a short program is all they can squeeze in. A new and unique offering in this segment is the two-week program offered by Arizona State University, in partnership with one of the original gap-year programs, Up with People.

This experience offers full cultural immersion in two European destinations, and includes a unique blend of performing arts, international travel, and community service. Students opting for this program live with local host families and experience the world with over 100 international cast mates, while also getting a taste of what it’s like to perform in front of thousands of Up with People fans in a professionally produced musical show.

The first cohort in this program occurred May 6-21, 2018, in Næstved, Denmark and Bruges, Belgium. According to Aliyah, an ASU program participant: “As a music education major it’s been really helpful for me to see the different aspects of organizational leadership in Up with People. There are so many things in this program that are applicable to anyone at ASU, such as living in a host family, doing community service, being part of the show and seeing that kind of production. It can really help you in different aspects of your career.”

According to Eric Lentz, UWP’s Senior Vice President, “We already have world-renowned semester- and year-long gap year programs; this new initiative is an opportunity to welcome students to the magic of the Up with People international tour for a few weeks. We hope to partner with the study abroad departments at other colleges and universities to offer short-term program options for their students, and, in doing so, expose more young people to the Up with People touring program.”

In addition to this unique two-week option, you can discover more about ASU’s study abroad programs here:

More information on Up with People’s semester-long touring program, and other short-term options, can be found here:

In addition to short-term study abroad programs young people are increasingly participating in short-term non-credit travel. In fact, Open Doors® reported that 23,125 U.S. students participated in non-credit work, internships, and volunteering abroad in 2016 alone. Up with People offers more ways for people to travel short-term including the eXperience and IMPACT Programs addressing the needs of those who are not seeking academic credit. The week-long IMPACT Program combines volunteer work and regional learning opportunities, all alongside the internationally diverse Up with People cast (100 college-aged students from over fifteen different countries).  All elements in the IMPACT program are developed by Up with People with the collaboration of local partners and communities.

Along with the volunteer work participants take guided tours to some of the area’s top historical and cultural destinations and are special guests at Up with People backstage tours and public performances.

This unique international travel program gives participants a chance to experience exciting destinations with a new twist. Expose yourself to culture, service, travel, and even the performing arts.

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” ― Terry Pratchett


10 Easy Travel Hacks To Make You A Better Traveler

While travel is one of our favorite things we recognize that sometimes trips could go just a little more smoothly. These simple travel hacks can save you time, money, and at times your sense of sanity. So before heading out on your next great adventure be sure to use a few of these pro travel hacks!

Use a Sunglasses Case For Power Cords

The more helpful electronic devices we pack the more of a pain tangled power cords can be. There is a very simple solution! Pack an extra sunglasses case to store those power cords. This offers a lightweight and efficient way to keep your power cords from somehow getting buried and tied together at the bottom of your carry-on.

Browse Flights and Hotels In “Incognito Mode” or “Private Browsing” To Save Money

If you’re like most people when you set out to buy a flight or book a hotel you browse prices, then check a couple other sites, and then possibly go back to the booking sites multiple times. This can cost you big time because those sites plant cookies on your computer and then based on the places you are searching for flights or a room, start to incrementally raise the prices on the very thing you want to book. All while the rest of the world is seeing a cheaper price for the same room or flight! Chances are that if you have already searched a flight once and don’t book, the next time you search that flight you will be shown a more expensive price. Simply browsing in private mode will allow you to save money.

Stop Folding Your Clothes

It’s time to stop the madness. If you are having trouble packing and fitting all of your clothes in that stuffed-to-the-brim suitcase it’s because you are a folder. Rolling your clothes is a much better option and has been proven to more efficiently fill the space in your luggage. Try rolling your clothes next time you pack.

Email A Photo Of Your Passport To Yourself And Family Member

We tell our new program participants that despite your best efforts, you may lose your passport. No one wants the hassle of getting a replacement especially without the proper documentation or proof that can speed up the process of getting a new one. When headed overseas be sure to take a photo of your passport and email that photo to yourself and a family member. You’ll thank yourself later in case it goes missing.

Bring An Empty Water Bottle

Everyone knows that the prices for food and water at airports is higher than almost everywhere else. So why keep paying big money for bottles of water? On a typical international trip you could save a lot of money by simply packing an empty water bottle to fill at airports for free. This also has the added benefit of helping the environment.

Use Shower Caps On Your Shoes

Most people walk a lot while exploring a city and this means the bottom of your shoes have slopped through some very dirty things. Then without a thought most of us place those dirty shoes right back into our luggage. Yuck! Luckily there is a simple solution. Simply wrap the bottom of your shoes in a shower cap to keep the germs on the bottom of your shoes and not all over your clothes. Many hotels provide shower caps for free.

Fight Jet Lag With Exercise

There are many ways to fight jet lag (see post – Tested Traveler Tips On Avoiding Jet Lag) but one of the best is exercise. It is one of the only scientifically proven ways to get over that sluggish feeling that comes from international travel. Hit the hotel gym or go for a jog and you will feel better in no time.

Hide Money In An Empty Lip Balm Tube

If someone wants to lift a little cash from your purse or bag where is the last place they would look? Your lip balm tube! This takes a wider lip balm tube of course but this hack offers a failsafe way to keep your money hidden from a would-be thief.

Pack A Dryer Sheet

We all pack dirty clothes when headed home or between stops on a multi-country trip. Those clothes can get pretty stinky which then make clean clothes smell too. Putting a new dryer sheet in your luggage can keep everything smelling like fresh air!

Download A Google Map Of Your Destination

You won’t always have access to Wi-Fi while traveling so make sure to download a digital version of your destination before you leave. When you download a Google Map to your device it allows you to access that map without Wi-Fi. This can also save you big on international roaming charges.


Tips For Raising A Global Child

It’s easy to get lost in the weeds of information out there about good parenting. At the end of the day we simply want what’s best for our kids. As our children prepare for college, and enter the workforce it’s easy to overlook soft skills that are critical to cross-cultural competence and communication. Developing a global mindset is extremely important in today’s interconnected and globalized economies. But how do we raise a global child? How do we prepare our kids to be ready for the real world we live in? In the spirit of Mother’s Day we asked the parents of Up with People alumni for their own tips on how to raise a well prepared global child.

Kerri Agusto is a Psychology Professor at Becker College. One of the core values of Becker College is the promotion of Global Citizenship. Kerri also happens to be the proud mother of Up with People participant Nate who is traveling the world with Up with People.

Kerri’s Tips On Raising A Global Child:

It is well-known that the 21st Century worker is expected to be a “global citizen”.  However, the definition of “global citizen” is often so varied that it leaves parents at a loss.  On one side is the very narrow definition that focuses on being multilingual. While this is a wonderful goal, in the US, where most schools teach in English and most children have the option of only a few years of French or Spanish education, fluency in more than one language is hard to come by without home immersion. On the other end of the spectrum is the ideal of relocating children to new cultures/countries for extended periods of time.  The idea is that they can become “global citizens” by moving out of their comfort zones to be immersed in different cultures to acquire an appreciation for new ways of viewing and living in the world. But, this ideal is only available to the few very wealthy individuals who can get paid while living in different places around the world.

So how do the rest of us help our children prepare to thrive and lead in a global society? Kerri explains…

Perhaps the easiest way is by providing children with opportunities to serve others.  Numerous churches, schools, and nonprofits around the country provide service opportunities for people in need.  Often these people are in low-income situations, are homeless, are disabled, or are members of other marginalized groups.  Another way to increase global perspectives in youth is to expose them to foods from different cultures, and to various religions, experienced through services at different places of worship.  Young children can be encouraged to read fables from around the world, to listen to music from different parts of the world, and read nonfiction accounts of children and teens from around the world.  As children get older, they can be encouraged to study courses such as “Understanding Diversity” or “Religions of the World.”

But truthfully, no course or short-term experience can substitute for immersion in the sights, smells, sounds and tastes of a different country/culture.  So if finances allow, children should be encouraged to embrace any and all opportunities for travel. Unfortunately, most of the time these experiences are for a week or 10 days on a cruise ship or perhaps with a tour group.  Traveling to a new country on vacation is better than nothing, but when you travel as a tourist, you see the country through rose colored glasses. When possible, children should have opportunities to see the world through the eyes of its local inhabitants.  Traveling with a service organization is one of the safest and surest ways to do this, as service groups typically avoid the pricey hotels and tourist markets and take advantage of lower cost opportunities with locals [host families] who are willing to share their homes or show-off their localities with the pride that comes from living and working in a place you call “home.”  Another opportunity comes from the chance to “study abroad” when in College. These semester long experiences can be challenging, but also rewarding (and often lower in cost than studying domestically!).

Personally, I have a child who was adopted from Cambodia.  Before adopting him we took a class on international adoption and the take-home message was to allow our child to embrace his culture of origin even if we raised him as an American.  As Nate grew, we brought him to Dragon Boat festivals in Lowell, MA, exposed him to wonderful Cambodian restaurants, and read him many fables from Cambodia and Thailand and Laos. He did not have much interest in any of this — or so we thought.  But as he grew into his teens, he began collecting Cambodian flags and art. He was interested in news about his birthplace. And at 16 he expressed a desire to go back and see where he was born. We found a service learning group with a 3 week adventure to Cambodia and we gave this trip to Nate as a graduation gift after high school.  When he returned he glowed with pride. He had experienced building a lavatory for a school in Cambodia, playing with the children in the school and seeing the great wonder of Ankor Wat and other temples. He shopped for foods in local markets and cooked traditional foods with the locals. His pride in the land of his birth was exponentially greater when he returned — as was his appreciation for the luxuries provided in his Massachusetts home.

Up with People is a natural extension of this experience for Nate.  Nate’s vocational goals are undecided. He is not one who enjoys school, and though he did well in the College classes he took  (including Religions of the World!) while waiting to begin UWP, he was not enjoying it or finding a passion. Nate wants to serve others.  He is not materialistic at all and wants for little. Money does not motivate him. What motivates him is helping others and being recognized and appreciated as a “good person.”  UWP gives him this opportunity.  And hopefully he will find a way to turn this experience into some direction for his future.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of helping our children become global children is to see them blossom and thrive.

Kerry says, “I am watching my caterpillar crawl out of his cocoon…. And what I’m seeing is an absolutely amazing butterfly getting ready to take on the world.  That’s what travel has done for my child. That’s how UWP has impacted his life.  Where he flies after this is anyone’s guess.  But I have no doubt he will land in many places and he will always bring with him a sense of curiosity and compassion.”

Jill Wright had three kids travel with Up With People. When asked about raising a global child Jill had this to say…

“Our son, Cameron, traveled for a full year. He probably had the most impactful experience, as he was struggling with life at the time, and after seeing Kara’s experience, we thought UWP could be great for Cameron. It was! He could not sing or dance to save his life, but toured as their drummer and loved it!

Cameron blossomed from a rather lost soul who had been fearful of travel to a global citizen, landing both education and stage internships, and returning home to reboot his college education with a fiery passion. His confidence soared, and he even led round table discussions with community leaders! Along with that, he now has some great friends in many different countries. I believe their experiences have shaped them to be more deeply invested towards others, and I am rather proud of them all!”

Happy Mother’s Day and a special thank you to Kerri and Jill for sharing their stories!


Why Travel Is Good For You

Many of us spend our days between trips planning and daydreaming about the next great adventure. We look at pictures of interesting places online and wonder what great fun awaits us in faraway lands. But did you know that like vitamins, travel can actually be good for us? Up with People participants (who at the time of this writing are in the middle of an amazing week in Canún, Mexico) know this to be true. Anybody who has traveled outside his or her comfort zone can attest to the excitement that comes from being in a new environment. As research has shown, travel is not only fun; it also offers the following benefits to our overall health and wellbeing.

Travel Science

Have you heard of the “wanderlust gene” called DRD4-7R? The 7R variation of this DRD4 gene is found in about 20% of humans and is associated with an abnormally increased level of restlessness and curiosity. Many psychologists and scientists have suggested that this gene could lead people to take bigger risks, which includes a nearly unquenchable thirst for travel.

An evolutionary biologist at Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute says that the “…DRD4 gene and the consequent extra dopamine may have helped provoke prehistoric man to leave home and explore other territories in hopes of finding food, mates, and shelter … that biological background might have morphed into modern day wanderlust.”

A Kaplan University biologist, Dawn Maslar, goes further: “The wanderlust gene is so powerful. It appears that the DRD4 gene is more predominant in the traveling type person.”

We can’t help it! Travel is in our DNA!

It turns out travel also fights dementia. This is because travel promotes brain health by building resilience in your brain cells. This is supposed to delay degenerative disease. People who travel also live longer. Nice!

Travel Psychology

According to numerous studies travel can lead to significant personality changes. People become more empathetic, generous, report higher levels of emotional stability, and tend to return from their journeys entirely different than when they first set out.

Travel has also been proven to enhance creativity, sparking synapses in the brain and affecting our neural pathways. Because of this, a 2012 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that the more you immerse yourself in foreign cultures, the more creative and professionally successful you will be.

Travel Business

Giant empires have been started because some man or woman decided that they needed to get away from it all for a while. Large companies like Toms, Warby Parker, Kayak and Noosa Yogurt were all formed because their founders hit the road to discover their next big idea. Or simply hit the road for the thrill of it and a fortunate side effect was a multi-million dollar company.

Without travel we wouldn’t have Instagram. The lightbulb moment for founder Kevin Systrom came on a beach in Mexico while on vacation with his wife, Nicole. She explained that she probably wouldn’t post pics on any app because her photos don’t look as good as skilled photographers. And boom, the idea hit them. They decided to add filters to an earlier version of the app and Instagram as we know it was born. All because the couple decided to stay at a bed and breakfast in a foreign country to clear out the old cobwebs in the creative centers of the brain. The very first picture posted to Instagram is of a stray dog and a taco stand in Mexico posted by Kevin on that very trip.

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The ride sharing service Lyft can thank its success to many things, not least of which is travel. Founder Logan Green decided to take a trip to Africa, visiting Namibia, Cape Town, Botswana and Zimbabwe. On the trip he started noticing shared-ride vans called kombis.

Compared to his home in L.A. where traffic is at best a nightmare, Zimbabwe had quiet streets. Most people rode bikes, walked or took a kombi. People there simply don’t own private vehicles in the incredible numbers seen in the United States. Shared rides were the norm and because of this Green saw an opportunity. He returned to California to start Zimride, which he named after his experience in Africa. Zimride eventually became what we know now as Lyft.

Travel doesn’t always have to be inspirational. It can tick you off sometimes. And this anger can also be good for your creativity. The billionaire Richard Branson was so incredibly ticked off by a canceled flight that he arranged a chartered flight for himself and the rest of his fellow stranded passengers. This irritating inconvenience sparked what would become Virgin Airlines. It’s no wonder Branson famously said, “I got my education out in the world. In my opinion, real life learning is the only way forward.”

Better plan your next trip. It’s practically doctor prescribed. Learn more about traveling in Up with People’s global education program today.

Study Abroad Internships: Up with People’s Unique Opportunities

In today’s competitive job landscape, an internship or assistantship may offer you the opportunity to stand out from the crowd. From professional networking to time management and teamwork, internships allow you the time to explore your passions and gain valuable skills before making an important career decision. While touring with Up with People, our cast members have the opportunity to not only learn about other cultures through singing and volunteerism, but also prepare for their professional careers through interning. Our internship and assistantship programs can help advance your resume and start/expand on your work experience.

We host three rounds of internships and assistantships during one tour. Each session is five weeks long. Whether it’s an internship or assistantship, students learn about different positions on staff, shadow staff in certain departments of interest, and help us with the tour experience. The difference between the two programs is the kind of work being done.


If a cast member is particularly interested in helping with specific tasks such as lighting for shows, sharing news with local media and online followers, or greeting guests at performances, an assistantship is the way to go. Assistantships offer opportunity for skill building through task-based work. They are the responsibilities that help the program run smoothly, like through working on the costume crew or as a spotlight operator or volunteer site crew leader. Assistantships allow you to try out a variety of different activities. 

Most cast members even complete multiple assistantships if they choose. With 35+ positions each round (that’s over 100 positions during the tour!), there are many ways to customize your Up with People experience through choosing assistantships. Assistants are selected by staff from a list of interested cast members. 


Cast members interested in a career-specific internship submit a short written application, explaining why they want to do the internship and provide examples of skills they have that will benefit a specific role. If select, they will work one-on-one with a staff member to set goals for the internship, work to achieve those goals with the help of staff, and review their performance at the end of the program.

We offer 10-12 internships per round, with about 30-40 opportunities in the tour. Interns shadow a staff member working in their area of interest, learn the ins and outs of the position, and help complete tasks along the tour. Cast members who complete an internship can also do an assistantship if they choose, but it is rare for an individual to complete two internships given the high interest and the limited number of positions.


We love when cast members tour with us for an entire year! In addition to the chance to complete another internship or assistantship during their second semester abroad, we also focus on innovation with our second semester cast members. We want them to help us enhance our organization and programming.

So, during the first five weeks, when new cast members are going through orientation, members in their second semester help set goals and work on leadership development with staff. They work with a staff coordinator to set a guide for second-semester learning and look for additional service opportunities.

Whether it’s learning a specific job through an in-depth internship, helping the crew hands-on through a task-oriented assistantship, or working with staff to better our organization, we encourage you to take your study abroad experience to the next level. You won’t regret it.

The Global Classroom: 4 Ways Study Abroad Enhances Your Education

Remember when you used to go on “Field Trips” when you were a kid? You’d load the bus and you and your classmates would let loose at the local nature center or science museum. Truth is, it didn’t matter where you went as long as you got to get out of the classroom. Best of all, you’d usually learn some pretty cool stuff. That’s what the Global Classroom is all about, except on a way bigger scale. And exploring the world is a pretty good substitution for the Science Museum. This is one of the reasons why so many students – both high school graduates and college goers – take a semester to study abroad. It totally enhances your education.

Looking for more proof? Here are four ways that your extended “field trip” abroad will make your educational experience richer:


Yep, you’re a citizen of your home country and guess what? You’re also a citizen of our world, which makes you a Global Citizen. And with this fantastic new title, comes some fantastic responsibilities. When you travel abroad you will see things you’ve not yet personally experienced or only seen in books or movies. You will find yourself immersed in cultures and surrounded by people that may have completely different perspectives and needs than your own.

As you learn about the different issues facing these new societies, how will you react? We all want to make an impact with our lives and you may find yourself staring at a situation that will give you that opportunity. If you do, dive right in! This is experiential learning at its finest. No classroom or textbook will give you an education like that!


One of, if not, the coolest aspects of traveling abroad is having the chance to learn about other cultures. There’s nothing quite like visiting another country, meeting the people, eating their food, seeing how they live, and engaging in their cultural practices.

According to Tonio Gonzalez, a 4-semester Cast Manager with Up with People, it’s always exciting to see new cast members visit countries for the first time. “At first they may not know what to make of some of the regional rituals and are unsure how to respond. And then by the time we leave a country, the same person has totally embraced everything about that country.” In many cases, you’ll find you may leave a country more aware of the nuances of both the local culture and your own. 

In today’s connected world, learning to explore and appreciate other cultures is an education that will set you apart!


Remember the old saying, “expect the unexpected”? Well, it applies here because when you travel abroad, you never know when the next lesson is lurking around the corner. What if you try to shake hands with somebody you shouldn’t touch, wear clothes that don’t cover enough skin, or mispronounce a word to make it mean something embarrassingly different than what you intended? These lessons can be surprising and maybe even a little awkward. Think of it as picking up some “street smarts”, which is a good, practical and necessary form of education.

At Up with People, we have a series of questions we ask ourselves when trying to make sense of an unexpected situation on the fly:

  • What? What just happened?
  • Gut? What does my intuition or gut tell me about it?
  • So what? How do I make sense of this experience?
  • Now what? What can I learn from it?

When you follow this sequence of questions it gives your brain a second to settle down and collect itself and helps turn the uncomfortable situation into a learning experience.

If you want an example, check this out. Up with People alum Ericka Donovan says being able to adapt on the fly helped get her ready for a career in the U.S. Air National Guard. “The experiences of constant culture shock, stepping outside my comfort level, and pushing myself to make a difference has made my experience in the military so far that much more successful,” she explains. “In my situation, Up with People helped set the stage for my career.”


You know how there are “immersion” schools for foreign languages today? Well, traveling abroad and spending extended periods of time in another country is like going to an immersion school, only better.

Not all countries will speak your native language and if you need food, water, or a place to go to the bathroom, you learn how to communicate in the local language in a hurry! No matter how many countries you visit, it’s a good idea to learn some basic phrases in the local language before you go. It’s a sign of respect and will open the door to building some great new friendships.

If you’re traveling to a single destination for a long time, why not consider taking a language course in advance? Your next meal could depend on it! Chances are, you’ll leave that country with a better understanding of the local language than you’d ever get in a traditional classroom — even at an immersion school!

No matter where you travel, the Global Classroom is a fun and exciting place to expand your education. You’ll eat new foods, meet new people, and experience new cultures — and that’s just in your first few days. Imagine how much more you’ll add as you travel from country to country! So, pack up your bags, pull out your passport, and get ready for the “field trip” of a lifetime. 

Study Abroad Fundraising Ideas: How to Travel Without Breaking the Bank

So, you’ve landed an exciting opportunity to study abroad, but you’re not sure how to pay for it. Don’t panic. A life-changing opportunity to explore and discover the world is probably worth a little extra fundraising effort, don’t you think?

The keys are starting early and staying organized, so here are some of the best ways to raise funds for your adventure of a lifetime without breaking the bank. Most of the time, the hardest part is simply getting started!


Before you begin raising money, figure out how much you have and how much more you need.

Try making a spreadsheet that shows all of your expected expenses, and be as detailed as possible. Some of the things to include: program fees, airfare, lodging, utilities, food, luggage, phone/communication, local travel, souvenirs/gifts, etc. 

Break down how much you want to raise each week. Mark down important dates for achieving those goals, and give yourself a little reward when you hit them (like Up with People alum Sophia from Germany, who bought an ice cream cone every time she raised $500). 

Set realistic goals, particularly when it comes to savings from a job. Saving 75% from each paycheck isn’t realistic, but saving 25% is more reasonable. Most importantly — start early. Once you’ve made that plan…stick to it!


Would you ever donate to someone without knowing what it was for? Probably not. The more information you share with others about your trip and your passion behind it, the more likely people are to donate to your cause.


When you reach out to donors, be sure to mix it up. You don’t want to keep asking the same people for money. Think through the different possibilities, like relatives, high school friends, colleagues, social media connections, etc.

Make both a rational and emotional pitch. Make the donors feel like they’ll be part of something special, because this is an adventure of a lifetime, and they can help make it happen! Let them know how you’ll keep in touch with them while you’re in the program, so they’ll get a chance to see the value of their contribution.

Remember that the worst thing a potential donor can say is “no.” Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there — if you don’t ask, you won’t get! 


Having a graduation party? Let your guests know that money given as gifts will be used to help you study abroad. Knowing it’s going to such a good cause might even encourage larger donations!

Want a bigger event with a bigger upside? 

  • Host a benefit concert, with a cover charge, raffle, and auction items. It’s a natural if you’re a performer (or any of your friends are).
  • Organize a golf tournament, with entry fees and some pay-to-pay competitions (with prizes for lowest score, longest putt, closest to the hole).
  • Plan a pub crawl, with a fun theme like zombies or pirates. Sell a button to participate, or host an “after-party” with a cover charge. 

Pro Tip: Bigger events take more time and effort to plan, advertise and execute — but also have a bigger payoff. Don’t be afraid to ask friends to help. Sometimes an extra set of hands can be a really valuable donation.


One person’s trash really is another person’s treasure. Sell your unwanted items on eBayCraigslist, or Facebook’s Marketplace. You can also sell items using apps such as letgo and OfferUp, which can be downloaded on any smartphone.

Pro Tip: Trade-in services like Gazelle and NextWorth pay cash for old electronics, while retailers like Appleand Best Buy offer store credit. Ask family, friends, and neighbors if you can recycle their electronics as an easy way to make some extra money.


Do you have a few hundred Facebook friends or Twitter followers? Post your travel plans and fundraising goals on social media with instructions on how to donate. Creating a GoFundMe account can make it easier to donate. Remember to use all of your social networks to promote your other fundraising events too!

Pro Tip: Countdowns and meeting goals are great excuses for social media updates. Whenever you’re “two months away” or “raised another $500,” use the opportunity to post a progress report and remind people how to contribute. 


Score an interview with the press. It’s not as hard as you might think. Editors of small local newspapers are always looking for local stories to fill their pages, and yours might interest them. A good writer can certainly turn your efforts into a story that might entice people to support your cause.


A great way to fund your trip is to get a seasonal or part-time job and use some of the money for your adventure. NextDoor can be an easy place to land smaller jobs around the neighborhood like mowing lawns, raking leaves, pulling weeds or babysitting.

Grants and Scholarships

Study abroad programs are educational, so you may be able to fund your trip with grants or scholarships. Start your search on general scholarship sites like FastWebFinAid, and IEFA (International Education Financial Aid), and look for organizations that list experiential learning, global leadership, study abroad, or cultural immersion in their criteria.


Some of the best fundraising ideas happen when you think outside of the box. Change your voicemail to announce your study abroad plans or “advertise” in your church bulletin.

Break down how much a single day of your trip will cost and then sell daily sponsorships like Up with People alum Ellen from Minnesota. “I sent a postcard from the road to each day’s sponsor to show them what they paid for,” Ellen says. “My friends and family really enjoyed getting updates from abroad and loved owning part of my trip.”

Pro Tip: Have some fun and become a walking vending machine. Buy snacks in bulk at Costco or Sam’s Club and sell them in school. Sound crazy? Up with People alum, Jackie from Colorado sold snacks out of a backpack throughout her senior year in high school and raised more than $10,000!

No matter what you do, remember that fundraising and saving don’t have to be a drag — especially when you’re shooting for such an exciting goal. Have fun and enjoy the process as you build a community of support for your upcoming adventure!

What Makes Up with People Different from Other Gap Year Programs?

Every day is full during an Up with People tour — full of travel, volunteer activities, and cultural experiences. It is an opportunity unlike any other. Twice per year, each fall and spring, young adults age 17-29 from a variety of backgrounds have the opportunity to travel the globe with our organization, bring positive change to the world and encourage others to do the same.

But what makes Up with People unique? Let’s explore and breakdown how service, culture, and performance are just a glimpse of what makes Up with People different from other gap year programs.

Cast members fully immerse themselves in the culture of the people they are visiting throughout their tour. “You build your cultural competency,” says Ellen Enebo, curriculum manager, and former cast member. “It’s an important life skill to have.” The longer a cast is in one country, the more diverse and deeper their understanding is of the various cultures within that area. For example, the cast tours Mexico for several weeks, typically staying with a different family each week. “The experience is unmatched,” she says.

Learn More About the Recent Cast’s Time in Mexico →
Not only are our cast members exposed to the cultures of places they visit along the tour — typically, at least three countries in two regions of the world — but they are also exposed to different cultures within the group. Any given year there are approximately 20 countries represented within our cast. As they travel and live together, they learn more about one another and the culture they come from. Over the 19-week tour, cast members form a tight bond with each other. “It’s the richest and most long-lasting kind of friendship,” Ellen says.

To enhance the gap year experience, Up with People’s cast members stay with host families at each destination on the tour. While at their host family’s house, members experience discussions in the native language and indulge in authentic food. When possible, our staff can even pair a cast member interested in a certain professional career with someone who works in that industry.

Up with People also has a unique way of pairing cast members to their host families. It’s called the Host Code. Each host family is given a name, word, or phrase that correlates to the overall theme of the visit. A theme can be based on what the city or state is famous for, or something fun that is chosen at random. Host families can then get creative with their assignment, making artistic signs or dressing in costume. When the cast arrives, they are given the same name, word, or phrase, which helps them find their host family. “It’s a fun icebreaker to meet your family,” Ellen says.

A gap year program that incorporates performing arts the way we do is rare. “It’s not just the performing arts element, it’s the art with the message,” says Ellen. “Music reaches people in a way that words by themselves don’t.”

We don’t require previous music experience but rest assured, every member of our cast will be on stage performing if they travel with us. Cast members will also have the opportunity to potentially work in other areas of the production, like lighting and staging. “It’s built in a way that you get to be successful on stage,” Ellen says. Individuals who have experience and excel at learning the music and choreography can earn a solo or be part of the front dance line.

We also cater our show to the country we’re in. At each stop along the tour, we perform a song or medley specific to that country. “It shows we care and are interested in the places we visit,” she says. The main language of the show also changes depending on the country we’re in. For example, in Germany, we will have a German-speaking cast member emcee the show.

At Up with People, we offer an opportunity unlike any other with the hope that each member who tours with us becomes an advocate for positive change.

Culture Shock: 9 Tips for Immersing Yourself in a New Culture

If you had a chance to travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? Mexico… Germany…the United States… South Africa? Traveling anywhere is fun, but for many of us, the farther away the better. Unfamiliar locations mean exciting experiences, and a chance to push our boundaries.

Why do you think people love overseas gap year and study abroad programs? They have so many ways to help you experience new things: new countries, new cultures, new foods, new…well, just about everything. You will most likely have a few awkward moments and uncomfortable experiences along the way, because that’s a part of immersing yourself in a new culture. In fact, if you don’t experience a little bit of culture shock, you might be getting far enough out of your comfort zone.

Fortunately, Up with People knows a lot about culture shock. We’ve been sending casts out on worldwide tours for over 50 years, so we’ve put together some helpful tips for how to handle those awkward moments and turn your “shock” into an unforgettable learning experience.                                                       

WHAT IS CULTURE SHOCK?                       

The dictionary defines culture shock as, “a sense of confusion and uncertainty sometimes with feelings of anxiety that may affect people exposed to an alien culture or environment without adequate preparation.” Culture shock happens when you travel to a place that is foreign to you, and you experience uncomfortable feelings, when the culture, social norms, way of life or set of attitudes are different than those of your own. Culture shock is a completely normal piece of world travel.

People experience and deal with culture shock differently — just like how everyone looks through life through their own lens. Some may experience slight culture shock, while others might feel like they are entering another universe. But don’t let that discourage or scare you, you will adjust to the new culture with time. Letting yourself experience culture shock as it unfolds, and learning from it, will help you in your future trips.                                                                       


  1. Learn as much as you can about your host country. Before you pack your bags and jet set, know the foundation for your experience. Look up the language, the norms, the culture and the people, then you will see what you’re getting yourself into.
  1. Practice getting outside of your comfort zone before you ever leave home. Try new foods, visit the related areas of your town, and start to explore the culture any way you can.
  1. Set learning goals. For example, pledge to try something new – like a local food – each week. If that means eating something more exotic than you’re used to at home, remember that you’re here to push your limits. 
  2. Make new friends from the area — which should be a priority, anyway. They can be your “ambassadors,” helping you become more familiar with the subtleties of the culture, like the right way and wrong way to greet people. They can also recommend places to go — or even take you to the area’s hot spots, restaurants, and hidden gems.
  3. Be a tourist! Don’t be afraid to go to that cheesy attraction or eat your sixth crepe of the day in France. You shouldn’t be ashamed of the locals knowing you’re a non-native.
  4. Find someone from your own culture (or a similar one) and become friends! It’s much easier to go through a new experience with someone else who understands what you’re going through. That’s one of the benefits of traveling in a group program like Up with People!
  1. Keep a journal and write down your thoughts and feelings. What do you like or not like? Why are you feeling the way you are feeling? Remember to talk to your fellow travelers about how you’re feeling, because they might be experiencing the same thing!                                                                    
  1. Do something familiar to get over any “speed bumps.” Bring something that reminds you of home, whether it’s eating your favorite treat, listening to your favorite music or asking for packages from home. It’s healthy to stay in touch with your roots.
  1. Most importantly, remember to have fun! You are in a foreign country with endless opportunities. Make the most of it. YOLO — you only live once!

Exploring new cuisine, ziplining over a rainforest, learning a foreign language, and hiking up a mountain are only a few of the hundreds of opportunities for adventure while abroad. The experience, while challenging at times, is something that one can only go through first-hand.

While culture shock may be unfamiliar to you at first, it will become a thing of the past — one of the many memories on your trip of a lifetime.