Welcome to the DIRECT Cape Town Accepted Student Information page! Navigate the tabs below for everything you need to know before your epic adventure!
To navigate back to your portal for payments, forms and due dates, click the My Account button above.
Stay on track for your summer adventure with the pre-departure checklist. Print it out, share with your parents and cross off items as you complete them. Please note some items may only apply to specific locations, and this is noted where applicable.
Are flights included in the program fee?
International airfare is not included in your program fee. You have several options when booking flights:
- Purchase a group flight ticket from LeadAbroad
- Book your own ticket that is on the same itinerary as the official group flight (this is a great option if you prefer to use points and/or miles to book airfare)
- Book your own flights on any itinerary that is most convenient for you (be sure to note your arrival/departure dates and times as this may affect your airport transfer)
All flight details can be found in the flights section below!
Can I still fly with the group if I am not going on the add-on?
Yes, but you must book your airfare independently and not through LeadAbroad. As a reminder, the official LeadAbroad booking departs Cape Town after the Garden Route add-on. Search the airline’s website for a roundtrip ticket that matches our itinerary going to Cape Town. On the return, be sure to select May 31st as your departure since that is the day DIRECT Cape Town officially ends before the Garden Route.
Can I buy a one-way group flight ticket from LeadAbroad?
Unfortunately, we can only issue roundtrip tickets with the confirmed group itinerary. If you have other travel plans, we recommend booking the same flight as the group on your own. All itineraries can be found in the flights section below. Use this information for booking flights on your own.
I purchased a group flight ticket from LeadAbroad. Do I need to book any other flights?
Your LeadAbroad group flight ticket includes a roundtrip itinerary between Washington, DC, and Cape Town. All students are responsible for their own booking between their hometown and DC, this year’s group flight departure city. We strongly recommend landing into the group flight airport at least four hours before your international flight departs. Additionally, we recommend booking your hometown itinerary on the same airline as the group flight. When you check-in for your very first flight, this will allow the airline representative to combine your ticket with the one LeadAbroad purchased for you. Your bags will be tagged with CPT, so you won’t have to pick them up again in DC before the group flight departs.
If you live within driving distance of Dulles Airport in DC and plan to drive to the airport before catching the group flight, be sure to note this on your flight form in the portal. We strongly recommend you arrive to the airport at least four hours before departure.
When will I get my group flight confirmation? Can I upgrade my ticket or request a different seat?
All students who register for the group flight through LeadAbroad will receive an email confirmation with ticket details approximately 30 days before departure. Once details are sent, you can alter your seat assignment by looking up your ticket number on the carrier website. LeadAbroad cannot accommodate seat/class requests during the initial group booking.
Will LeadAbroad staff be on my flight?
Since our staff will already be in Cape Town preparing for your arrival, we will not have any staff at the departure airport or on flights to South Africa. However, a student will be taking attendance at the gate and helping students connect with each other before the flight. Should you have questions or problems with your flight, we strongly recommend you speak with an airline representative at the airport as they will be able to assist. Our on-call, U.S. based staff is available for any itinerary changes that will impact your arrival.
Can I cancel my group flight ticket after purchasing from LeadAbroad?
Group flight tickets are non-refundable.
I am not arriving on the group flight. Will someone meet me at the airport in Cape Town?
Yes! As long as you are arriving on the official start date (May 20, 2019), LeadAbroad staff will greet you at the airport. Depending on your arrival time, you may be responsible for your own transportation cost to the hotel. We will arrange this transfer for you, and you will pay the driver directly. If this applies to you, we will be in touch before departure to confirm your arrival plans!
What happens if I miss my flight or it is canceled/delayed?
- Step 1: Do not stress. These things happen! 🙂
- Step 2: Work with an airline rep at the airport to be rebooked.
- Step 3: As soon as you have a new itinerary, complete the new flight plan form linked in your pre-departure newsletter. We will be in touch to confirm any details.
Where can I find a packing list?
Click here to jump down to the packing section of this page for all the details!
What kind of weather should I pack for?
It will be early winter while we are in Cape Town. You can expect temperatures to be similar to October/November in the southern U.S. (50’s and 60’s).
Do I have to bring my laptop?
No, you do not need to bring a laptop for this program. In fact, we encourage you not to bring one. If you do bring one, please be sure to bring a lock to secure it in your baggage when not in use.
Should I pack sheets/linens/towels/hangers?
Nope! Your room will have all of the above.
Health & Safety
Is travel insurance included? What about health insurance?
LeadAbroad does not offer a travel insurance plan. All students will be covered under LeadAbroad’s health insurance for the duration of the program. Details can be found in the Health & Insurance section of “Pre-Departure Info.”
Do I need shots before visiting South Africa?
Review CDC guidelines for travelers to South Africa here: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/south-africa
No specific shots are required; however, LeadAbroad recommends visiting your family doctor before departure to ensure you are up to date on routine vaccines including Hepatitis A and MMR.
Can I bring my prescription medication into South Africa?
If you pack prescription medication, be sure it is in the original prescription bottle. We also recommend researching the medication to better understand any restrictions in South Africa. Your doctor will be a great resource in finding this information.
Pharmacies in South Africa will not accept foreign prescriptions. If you anticipate needing a prescription refill while abroad, speak with your doctor about getting enough medication for the duration of your trip. Alternatively, our staff can assist with a local doctor’s visit to receive a local prescription.
Budgeting & Finances
Are meals included?
Your program fee includes a welcome dinner and a final dinner. If you participate in the Garden Route add-on, breakfast and dinner will be provided. All other meals are your responsibility.
How much spending money should I budget for the trip?
Click here for a budgeting worksheet. You should have a realistic conversation with your parents in the application process to discuss spending habits and budgeting while you are abroad. While spending can vary widely, LeadAbroad recommends $40/day as a baseline budget for meals and incidentals.
Should I bring U.S. cash? Debit cards? Credit cards?
LeadAbroad strongly recommends you bring two ways to access money: a debit card for ATM withdrawals and a credit card as a backup. We do not recommend exchanging U.S. dollars for local currency as it is very difficult to find a place to exchange and the exchange rate is typically better when you withdraw from an ATM. You should plan on getting cash out an ATM once you arrive in Cape Town.
Do I need a visa to enter South Africa?
U.S. citizens are not required to obtain a visa to visit South Africa if you stay for 90 days or less. When entering South Africa, you will be considered a tourist and not a student since you are not enrolling in a foreign university.
If you are NOT a U.S. citizen, be sure to research entry requirements based on the country that issued your passport. You may be required to obtain a visa.
For more information on visa and passport requirements, review the passports section below!
Should I rent a Nokia cell phone or get an international plan for my regular phone?
We strongly recommend all students opt into the Nokia rental option. These phones will be pre-loaded with all other rental phone numbers, including staff and emergency service numbers.
We’ve found that American cell service can be spotty in and around Cape Town plus international data plans can be very expensive. Check with your carrier for specifics.
When will I know my roommate assignment? Can I request a roommate change?
We can change roommates up to 30 days before departure. Roommate requests are entered on the general form linked on this page. If you’ve already completed this form and would to change your request, please email info@LeadAbroad.com.
Final roommates will be released 30 days before departure. No changes can be made after this time.
What is the best way for friends/family to contact me while abroad?
Check out the Communication Abroad section under the “Pre-Departure Info” tab for details on renting a local cell phone. WiFi is also accessible in our hotel.
If there is an emergency in the U.S. and your family needs to contact LeadAbroad, please have them call our emergency response line at 404.720.5657 and dial extension 710.
Can I receive packages/mail while abroad?
General letters and mail can be received at the hotel while you’re abroad; however, we strongly discourage the mailing of valuable packages (cameras, cell phones, medication, etc) to students while abroad. You will have to pay taxes on the item in order for it to clear customs, and it often takes many days for the process to be completed which delays delivery. Depending on what is being sent, the taxes may be very high (sometimes more than the value of the item itself).
There are lots of ways to connect with our team and fellow students to start your #LeadAbroadLife adventure:
- Join our online groups (for students only) to meet other travelers and your program leaders! We will also post important reminders and announcements in the groups:
- Follow us on Instagram and search the 5,000+ #LeadAbroadLife and @LeadAbroad tags
- Like us on Facebook and watch out for your program’s photo album this summer
- Send us an email at info@LeadAbroad.com
Get Ready to Take Off
To make a payment, log in to your customer portal.
The DIRECT Cape Town program fee is $2,900. The optional garden route add on price will be announced in December!
Please refer to your customer portal for your custom due dates based on when you were accepted to the program. Further information on all payment policies can be found on our policy page.
Credit cards (Visa, MasterCard and Discover) are accepted for payment online; however, we do not accept American Express. Please remember that a 4% processing fee will be added to all online payments. Payment by e-check is also accepted. E-check payments do not have a processing fee. Paper checks will not be accepted.
The LeadAbroad team will support you every step of the way when planning your flights! Please review the sections below as well as the flights FAQ section above for information on the official group flight and tips for booking flights independently.
Important dates for DIRECT Cape Town:
- Sunday, May 19: All students should depart the U.S. for Cape Town (CPT)
- Monday, May 20: All students should arrive into Cape Town
- Friday, May 31: All students either depart for Garden Route add-on or fly out of CPT for the U.S.
- Sunday, June 2: Garden Route add-on ends and students depart CPT for U.S. All students will arrive at the airport at 6:00pm. Flights should depart no earlier than 9:00pm.
The optional* LeadAbroad group flight itinerary is as follows:
Depart: May 19, 2019 (Arrives in Cape Town on May 20)
- Depart IAD at 5:40pm on KLM #652 / Arrive in AMS at 7:15am (May 20)
- Depart AMS at 10:00am on KLM #597 / Arrive in CPT at 9:20pm
Return: June 2, 2019 (departs after the Garden Route add-on)
- Depart CPT at 11:20pm on KLM #598 / Arrive in AMS at 10:45am (June 3)
- Depart AMS at 1:25pm on KLM #651 / Arrive in IAD at 3:40pm
*Note this flight is not included in program fees. For more details on booking this itinerary through LeadAbroad, click “Register for LeadAbroad’s official group flight” below!
Register for LeadAbroad's official group flight
Group flight cost: $1,400*
Early reservation deadline: December 31, 2018**
*To submit payment, navigate to the payments section of your LeadAbroad portal
**Please note: seats are limited and first come, first serve
Only students participating in the Garden Route adventure add-on should register for the group flight. The return itinerary departs after the tour ends. Students not going on the add-on should depart Cape Town on May 31 and review the next section about booking flights independently.
To reserve your seat on the LeadAbroad group booking:
- Submit payment in your LeadAbroad portal
- Book a roundtrip ticket between IAD airport in Washington, DC, and your hometown.
- We strongly recommend you book this ticket with Delta. This will allow you check-in for your first flight at your hometown airport and check your bags all the way to Cape Town. If you do not book with Delta, you must pick up your bags in DC, check in with KLM and re-check your bags to Cape Town.
- Recommended arrival time into IAD before the group flight: 1:40pm on May 19
- Recommended departure time leaving IAD after the group flight: 6:40pm on June 3
- If you live nearby or will already be in Washington, DC, on departure day and plan to drive to the airport, we strongly recommend arriving no later than 2:40pm. Three hours before departure will give you plenty of time to check-in, go through security and get settled at the gate.
- When you have submitted your group flight payment in your portal AND booked your tickets into IAD and back home, fill out the flight form in your portal.
Important group flight notes:
- Group flight tickets are non-refundable.
- The group flight itinerary cannot be altered in any way. All passengers must fly on the designated dates and between the designated cities.
- Individual tickets will be emailed to students about one month before departure.
- LeadAbroad cannot book one-way group flight tickets.
- LeadAbroad staff will not be on this flight as they will already be in Cape Town preparing for your arrival! We will nominate a student flight leader to take attendance at the departure gate.
- We cannot accommodate seat requests before ticketing. Once you receive your ticket, usually you can log in to the airline’s website to pick a seat. You can also change your seat when checking in with the airline agent.
Book your own itinerary
We strongly recommend flying on the same itinerary as the group if you choose to book independently. Please review the section above for the official group flight departing Dulles airport in Washington, DC (IAD).
If you book your own flights and plan to attend the Garden Route adventure add-on, please note the following:
- Recommended arrival time into Cape Town: May 20th, no later than 9:20pm
- Recommended departure time leaving Cape Town: June 2nd, 9:00pm-11:00pm
If you book your own flights and DO NOT plan to attend the Garden Route adventure add-on, please note the following:
- Recommended arrival time into Cape Town: May 20th, no later than 9:20pm
- Recommended departure time leaving Cape Town: May 31st, 9:00-11:00pm (note: hotel checkout is at 11am; however, students can store their bags at the hotel before later flights)
Airport greeting and group shuttle time
Students arriving before May 20th are responsible for securing and paying for their own airport transportation and accommodation until the official program start date. Students arriving after May 20th are responsible for their own transportation to the accommodations.
- Greeting students at the airport: All students arriving on May 20th will be greeted at the airport.
- Group shuttle: Estimated shuttle departure time is one hour after the group flight lands, or 10:20pm on May 20th
- If you arrive on the official group flight or before 9:20pm, we will include you in the group transfer.
- If you are scheduled to arrive after the group lands, you are responsible for your transportation cost. LeadAbroad will assist you in arranging this transportation.
- Departure after the program:
- If you are not staying for the add-on and depart Cape Town on May 31st, LeadAbroad will provide a shuttle to the airport.
- Garden Route participants: you will be transported to the airport and arrive by 6:00pm on June 2nd. Your flight should depart Cape Town at 9:00pm or later. If you book an earlier flight, you will not make it to the airport in time.
In order to arrive in country rested and ready to go, consider the following tips to make your flight experience as enjoyable as possible:
- Print ALL of your flight itineraries for the trip and have them easily accessible.
- Do not start your trip stressed. GET TO THE AIRPORT EARLY. For most international flights, we recommend that you arrive at the airport at least three hours prior to departure.
- Weigh your bags before you leave home. Check baggage size and weight restrictions for ALL AIRLINES you might be flying during the program. Smaller budget airlines abroad usually have stricter baggage policies than the larger U.S.-based carriers.
- Pack the following items in your carry-on. If your checked baggage takes an adventure of its own, having these items with you will create less stress and allow for a more comfortable plane ride:
- Two days worth of clothes
- Laptop, cell phone, chargers, other electronics
- Water bottle/Nalgene
- Blindfold and ear plugs if you are sensitive to light/sound when trying to sleep on planes
- Program director’s phone number
- Dorm address
- Be comfortable on the plane. Dress in layers so that you can easily adapt to the temperature.
- Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluid while in the air. It is easy to become dehydrated when flying.
- Know where your passport is at all times. When checking in at the airport, you will have to get your passport in and out of your bag several times; at each stop, be sure to take a moment for a passport check.
- Reset your watch. As soon as you board the plane, reset your watch to the local time and try to get on a sleeping pattern that is consistent with your destination. Most students traveling will be on an overnight flight and you will be very grateful if you sleep. Also, remember that if you have to take medications at a certain time during the day or at the same time everyday you might need to adapt this prior to departure.
- Make special meal requests if necessary. If you have any special requests, be sure to contact the airline at least 72 hours prior to departure.
- Make sure you have a pen for any immigration forms. Flight attendants usually distribute arrival forms shortly after take-off. On these forms, note that you are a tourist, not a student.
As a DIRECT Cape Town student, you can choose to stay for another three days and two nights if you would like to experience the Garden Route.
- Price: $950
- To register for the adventure add-on, submit payment through your customer portal.
- Spots are first come, first serve
- Add-on trips are non-refundable. Please review refund policies here.
Included in the price:
Cage diving with white sharks
Safari game drive
Qualified tour guides
Bungee jump: R950
To apply for a U.S. passport, click here. If you are not a U.S. citizen, be sure to thoroughly research passport and visa requirements for citizens of your home country.
If you already have a U.S. passport, check to confirm the following:
- the expiration date is 2020 or beyond
- the passport has at least two consecutive blank pages
- Your name is spelled correctly
If your passport does not have all requirements above, you must renew your passport before traveling abroad.
All students are required to submit passport information via the passport form in the LeadAbroad portal 60 days before departure. Please do not submit a passport that is expired or in the process of being renewed. When your new passport arrives, you can then submit your form.
All participants are REQUIRED to review the following orientation videos:
- Acceptance Orientation video
- Please submit the acceptance orientation form in your portal within 30 days of your LeadAbroad acceptance
- For a slides-only version, click here!
- Pre-Departure Orientation (Part 1): General Orientation for All Programs – Available in December 2018
- due 60 days before departure
- Pre-Departure Orientation (Part 2): Program-Specific Orientation – Available in February 2019
- due 30 days before departure
All orientation videos are also linked in your LeadAbroad portal under the “Preparing to Go Abroad” section. The associated forms must be submitted after you complete each orientation.
To ensure we have the tools to support you before and during the program, we have several short forms that must be completed between 30 and 60 days before departure. Please access your portal for all required forms and due dates.
The most important thing to remember when packing for Cape Town is that we will be there in fall and moving into winter. The weather in Cape Town in May and June is very similar to that of weather in the southern U.S. October and November. You have some clear beautiful days and then some cold and rainy ones.
Most apartments have washing machines. If your apartment does not, you can use one of your neighbors or you can send your laundry off which is about $12-$15 for per load.
Students are required to order a DIRECT notebook and complete one short, fun assignment prior to departure.
To order your journal, please click here. (Link will be available in March 2019)
We recommend placing your order as soon as possible to allow yourself time for shipping and to complete the assignment. It is required that all students bring the program workbook abroad this summer for use on the program.
Students have two options for ordering the program workbook:
- Order online and pay with Paypal
- Order over the phone with a credit card
It is important that you select the correct item (do NOT buy Blue Book) and indicate your shipping address. If you need expedited shipping (2-3 business days or less), call BelJean bookstore directly rather than placing your order online. Students who prefer picking their program workbook at BelJean do so during normal store hours at the following address:
163 E Broad St
Athens, GA 30601
One of the first workshops you will participate in is examining your “signature strengths.” All students must complete this assessment before departure.
Click here for your unique access code (will be available in March)
If you do not see your name on the list of access codes, please email info@LeadAbroad.com to request your code.
Cell Phone Rental Information
We strongly encourages students to have a local cell phone while they are in Cape Town. By having a local cell phone, students can easily contact a staff member in an emergency, call safe taxi rides, and connect with their peers in Cape Town. LeadAbroad has partnered with Vodacom to provide cell phone rentals to our students while they are in country.
To reserve your cell phone rental, please pay the $25 rental fee in your portal under “Optional Payments.”
- Cell phones will be preloaded with all emergency contacts, staff and student numbers.
- You will have your cell phone number prior to departure to give to your family.
- Cell phone rental is $25 plus the cost of minutes and texting.
- A deposit of R1500 per phone (approx $125) is taken from your credit card and will be applied to the minutes that you use (similar to prepaying)
- Incoming calls are free—even from the states!
- The deposit, minus your final invoice, will be returned to you (given the phone, charger, and other attachments are returned to Vodacom at the end of the program),within four weeks of the program ending.
- If your use all R1500 worth of minutes prior to the program complete, you will receive an email from Vodacom notifying you of an additional charge. They will then take another deposit of R1500.
- If the phone is lost, stolen or damaged beyond repair there will be a fee.
- Costs for calls and texts:
Local Calls to all Networks: R1.50 per minute
Local SMS: R0.65 per SMS
International SMS: R1.95 per SMS
International Calls to 60 Countries: R4.20 per minute
Incoming Calls: FREE
Data: R0.19 per Mb
There are many ways to stay in touch while traveling abroad. Wireless internet is available throughout our hotel and students can buy internet for a special LeadAbroad discounted rate in the hotel lobby. Please note that despite the hotel’s best efforts to prepare routers for our group, internet speeds can fluctuate depending on traffic. Internet can be slow and unpredictable, especially when all students are trying to upload pictures or watch videos at the same time. We ask all students and parents to be patient with the internet. Students will have more success using the internet if they use it at off-peak times.
LeadAbroad strongly encourages students to have cell phones while abroad for risk management purposes. Students can:
- Bring an unlocked phone and buy a local SIM card
- Add an international package to current phone plan
- Rent/buy a local cell phone (see above for rental information)
With Wi-Fi readily available in most locations, you are encouraged to utilize internet texting apps (iMessage for iPhone to iPhone, Groupme, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts) to communicate with program staff and family and friends at home.
In addition, we integrate technology into our communications and risk management strategy to keep students safe. Therefore, we require students to download the following applications on their phone prior to departure:
- Find my Friends
- State Department
If there is an emergency at home while you are abroad, our team will support you and your family in every way possible. Should any friends and/or family need to contact LeadAbroad, please have them call our U.S.-based domestic team at 404.720.5657. For emergencies, dial extension 710 when prompted. Our on-call team will assist with the situation and get in touch with your program staff as needed.
Applications will be posted in your portal under Optional Forms. DUE DATE: April 1!
What are program leaders?
On the LeadAbroad team, the program staff are the coaches and program leaders are the team captains – they set the tone and encourage other students by creating a strong sense of community through service projects, social outings, group chats and creative stories. They are the peer leaders who step up when needed and make other students feel included. Whether you’re joining us on GO, LEAD, DIRECT or PRO, our program leaders will help make your experience abroad impactful and lasting.
Why should I apply?
Like most things in life, you get out of the program what you put in. As a program leader, you will be empowered to be a leader on the program from day one. You will get to know other students faster, receive additional leadership coaching from our program staff and make your study abroad experience stand out on your resume.
In addition, about 3 days into the program students will start asking us, “How do I get to work with you?” Being a program leader is the first step in the door. The normal trajectory for our staff is the following: Program Leader > On Campus Community Leader > Summer Intern > Full Time Staff
What would I do during the program?
We have four types of program leaders on DIRECT, so there are multiple ways to plug in on the ground.
Orientation Leader (apply online): Are you the first one on the dance floor at a party, love meeting new people and aren’t afraid to be a trendsetter? Consider applying to be an OL on the program. These students will help assist with our on the ground orientation, breaking the ice those first few days and helping the students on the program get to know each other.
Service Leader (apply during orientation): Are you involved with a large philanthropy on campus or wanting to get involved with one next year? Boost your resume and give back on your program by registering as a Service Leader during our on the ground orientation. Service Leaders assist with our program’s service project and identifying fun ways to serve the other program participants and locals. This is a great way to get plugged in, meet new people and give back to the local community and your peers.
Social Chair (apply during orientation): Do you love getting your friends together? Wouldn’t miss a festival, concert or restaurant opening? You should be a social chair on our program. Not only is this a great way to meet people on the program, but also is awesome for your resume if you are considering applying for an events position on campus.
International Brand Ambassador (apply online): We are looking for talented students to share the story of their study abroad experience! Want to build your resume? Love taking pics? Writing is your thing? Great at videos? Then apply to join our International Brand Ambassador team. You will get to capture the experience and earn $$$$ for doing what you love!
Does being a program leader take a lot of time?
Being a program leader doesn’t take a ton of extra time; however, we will have weekly meetings with staff to chat about what is happening on the program and additional ways to create fun experiences for the students. Each type of leader will have a staff member coach them in their role throughout the program. Former leaders have said that team meetings are one of the best parts of the role.
What would I do after the trip?
Studying abroad is just the beginning. As a program leader, you have a head start in the selection process for on-campus community leaders next fall. On-campus community leaders will share their experience on their campus and encourage other students to take the first step toward their own study abroad journey.
Ready to dive into this leadership role? Apply in your portal before the deadline!
Summer 2019 staff will be announced in January!
While in Cape Town, you will stay in luxury beachside apartments at the Lagoon Beach Hotel. Each two-bedroom apartment will house 4 students of the same gender. The apartments are right on the beach and there are restaurants, a gym and a spa at the hotel. The apartments are located in Milnerton, just outside of Cape Town. Below is the address and website for your home in Cape Town.
Lagoon Beach Hotel
1 Lagoon Gate Drive
Milnerton, Cape Town, South Africa 7441
Tel: +27 21-552-1016
Click here for roommate assignments
To request a roommate, please submit the roommate form in your online portal. Roommate forms are due 60 days before departure. Final housing assignments will be posted about one month before departure. Once roommates are posted, we cannot make any changes. If you’ve already submitted your roommate form but wish to make a change to your request, please email info@LeadAbroad.com no later than 60 days before departure.
- Get a preview of your South African adventures by reviewing last year’s program itinerary. An updated itinerary for summer 2019 will be available in December!
- Please note: the schedule is tentative and subject to change.
This worksheet will allow you to understand costs outside of the program fees and airfare. Review this section in detail and email us at info@LeadAbroad.com with any further budgeting questions.
Before you leave, call your bank and credit card company to notify them that you will be traveling abroad. Give them the dates and countries of your itinerary, including any layovers. Debit and credit cards can been blocked after transactions abroad because your bank may assume it is a fraudulent transaction.
To access funds, debit cards are the best way to access cash overseas. ATM machines are widely available everywhere we travel. Debit cards with Visa, MasterCard, Cirrus or Plus signs are the most widely accepted. There may be a transaction fee for using ATMs abroad; therefore, it’s important to understand the fees associated with using your cards overseas. Keep a record of your debit card and pin numbers with someone at home.
Credit cards can be used similarly to debit cards at restaurants and shops abroad. Most major credit cards are honored abroad (i.e. MasterCard and Visa). Similarly to debit cards, credit card companies use the current exchange rate for your transaction. Call your credit card company to understand the fees charged per transaction.
We recommend that students do not bring large sums of US dollars with them to South Africa. It is not convenient to exchange money and students typically get a poor exchange rate. Using your debit card is the best option. We recommend that students do not bring traveler’s checks. Most businesses will not accept them.
The program fees cover most of the costs of being in country, but you will need to provide additional funds for:
- Meals: We will have weekly program dinners. Breakfast and dinner is provided everyday on the Garden Route. All other meals are your responsibility.
- Incidentals: Internet, phone calls, transportation to non-program events
- Free time: Independent evenings and additional adventure outings
- Gifts and souvenirs
Budgeting can be a challenging and personal process. On average, if you eat all the group meals, cook in your apartment for breakfast and lunch, go out for dinner, drink mostly water, occasionally take taxis and keep additional activities to a minimum; you will spend between $25 and $40 per day. Know yourself and your budget plan to avoid any surprises. Here are some sample local costs to help you plan:
Meals: Costs for dining out are similar to those in the US; typically, prices for dinner range from $15-$25. Most people spend about $20-30 per day on food. Cape Town has a range of restaurants from five-star dining to casual chain restaurants. All student apartments are equipped with a full kitchen and there is a grocery store within walking distance; this will make eating-in a very easy option for lunch and some evenings. Food is part of the South African culture and should be enjoyed, but eating at home is also a great way to remain on budget. Have dinner parties with your Community Group once a week so you can build community and save some money.
Internet/Cell Phone: Most students have a local cell phone while they are in Cape Town and use the internet frequently. Students can rent a cell phone through LeadAbroad and wireless internet cards can be purchased through the hotel.
Taxis: Group taxis in and out of Cape Town are about $15 each way. We encourage you to share taxis with roommates and friends to lower costs. Budget about $5-$10 per day for taxis.
Laundry: Most apartments have washing machines. If your apartment does not you can use one of your neighbors’ or you can send your laundry to a professional laundromat that is about $15 for your whole load.
Other Activities: Below are average costs of many of the additional activities that students enjoy! During our first week in Cape Town, students will have an opportunity to hear more about each of these activities and sign up to participate.
- Three Bays Helicopter Tour (30 mins): ZAR 3000
- Tandem Skydiving (2 hours): ZAR 3750
- Tandem Paragliding (10-30 minutes): ZAR 1650
- Abseiling Table Mountain (1 hour): ZAR 1400
- Quad Biking – Dunes (1 hour): ZAR 800
- Sandboarding (4 hours): ZAR 750
- Sandboard / Quadbike Combo (4 hours): ZAR 1450
- Sunset Champagne Cruise (1.5 hours): ZAR 550
- Surfing Lessons (4 hours): ZAR 800
- Inshore Fishing Chater (5 hours): ZAR 3000
- Seal Snorkeling (3.5 hours): ZAR 1000
- Wine Tasting Tour (8 hours): ZAR 900
- Rugby Game (5 hours): ZAR 750
Please note all the activities that are included in the program cost:
- Trip to Cape Point and Boulders Beach
- Trip up Table Mountain
To charge your electronics abroad, will need pack (or purchase when you arrive) an outlet adaptor. A quick search on Amazon will provide several options! For some items like hair dryers and straighteners, you will also need to purchase a voltage converter since voltage is much higher in South Africa than the US. If you do not use a converter, you could damage your appliance.
We encourage students to be mindful of their electronics while traveling. It is wise to conceal electronic devices when walking around as iPhones and laptops can be attractive for theft.
LeadAbroad strongly encourages students to be mindful of their health prior to departure and while abroad. Living in a new environment, eating different cuisine and adjusting to a new schedule can impact one’s immune system. Before you travel overseas, students should examine the factors that contribute to their physical and emotional wellbeing so that they can stay healthy and get the most out of their trip.
- Read and understand the CDC recommendations for your upcoming travel. The CDC website includes information on vaccines, medicines, packing lists as well as information to prepare students to stay healthy and safe.
- Make an appointment with your university’s travel clinic, dentist and other medical professionals. Students can proactively eliminate many potential health issues by ensuring they are in good health prior to departure. Additionally, during these visits, make sure your health records and prescriptions (including eyeglasses) are up-to-date. If you are taking a prescription medication, please ensure that you have enough for the whole program and that the medication is in the original container. If you self-inject prescribed medication, please carry needles and syringes with you. It’s important to understand that LeadAbroad will not distribute any form of prescription or nonprescription medication to students. We recommend every student travel with a medical kit.
- Be honest with yourself regarding your emotional health. Students that are concerned about their emotional stability or use of alcohol/drugs should address it honestly before making plans to travel. Contrary to many people’s expectations, travel does not minimize these problems; in fact, it can often exacerbate them.
- Contact us directly at info@LeadAbroad.com with any specific medical issues we should be aware of at least three months prior to departure. Our team is better equipped to support you abroad if we know your health history and emotional health. Please share this information with us prior to departure.
Click here to view LeadAbroad’s health insurance policy. Despite the 2015-2016 header, this is our current policy for summer 2018.
Basic medical insurance is included in all students’ program fee. Please review the policy to become knowledgeable regarding the types of medical conditions and situations that are covered while you are participating in DIRECT Cape Town. If you are injured or ill while you are abroad and need medical attention, you will likely need to pay for the treatment upfront, and if covered the money will be reimbursed by LeadAbroad’s insurer after submitting your claims form. If for any reason you need to seek medical assistance while abroad, a LeadAbroad staff member will accompany you to the doctor. Please contact us first if you have any sort of emergency.
It’s important to note that this medical insurance is not ‘travel insurance’ and therefore does not cover the cost lost or stolen luggage or cancellation of the trip. Students may purchase travel insurance independently through an outside provider. For more information on the different types of travel insurance you can click here.
LeadAbroad’s Emergency Response Protocol provides a system for coordinating the management of emergency services for all participants in our study abroad programs. In-country staff are the first point of contact for students on the program in the event of an emergency and assume leadership of the emergency situation until other resources (e.g., local police, etc) are available. However, in the event that the staff are unavailable, the following guidelines are provided here in case you, as a participant in the program, need to handle an emergency.
- Ensure safety: Your first priority is to safeguard the safety and well-being of yourself and other program participants. Do whatever is reasonably necessary to ensure safety.
- Seek medical care: Obtain any emergency medical care for affected participants as soon as possible.
- Control emotions: Remain as calm as possible. Do your best to diffuse any growing anxieties that may be occurring among participants.
- Communicate (as applicable). Depending on the nature of the emergency, it may be necessary to contact medical or emergency services, police or local law enforcement or the US embassy.
- Ongoing support: Continue to monitor, aid, and communicate status updates as the situation progresses.
- Debrief: Meet with LeadAbroad staff to discuss the situation, how it was handled and steps that were taken to resolve the emergency.
Reducing Risk Abroad
LeadAbroad takes many steps to reduce risk abroad. You will be registered with the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. The benefits of STEP include the following:
You will be given a keychain with emergency contact numbers and the address of our accommodations.
Please review the following resources to ensure that you are informed on how to have a safe and healthy trip abroad: