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Safety Tips

Before you travel internationally, research safety issues in the specific locations you will be visiting by consulting U.S. State Department Travel Advisories and the Country Specific Information, and register your travel with the State Department so that they can better assist you in the case of emergencies. Educating yourself about current security issues, travel alerts and notices, as well as the appropriate safety precautions for your destination, prepares you for, and may help prevent, incidents.

The U.S. Department of State lists a “Worldwide Caution,” stating, “U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance and practice good situational awareness when traveling abroad.”

In case of an emergency, follow your program specific emergency guidelines.

Personal Safety
  • At all times carry a cell phone with pre-programmed emergency numbers and/or an emergency contact card, with phone numbers for program leaders and local emergency resources. Research backup means of communication for areas in which cell service is unavailable.
  • Learn and follow local traffic rules and practices and to avoid dangerous modes of transportation, including mopeds and sub-standard buses. Keep in mind that pedestrians in other countries may not have the same rights or respect that pedestrians in Davis or California do. Travel accidents, whether as a pedestrian or driver/passenger, are one of the main sources of injuries and fatalities on study abroad programs. See the U.S. Department of State Resource for road safety overseas, as well as road safety tips from the Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT).
  • To reduce the risk of becoming the victim of a crime, including sexual harassment and assault, avoid areas known to have a high incidence of crime.  Ask staff with your program to mark any areas to avoid on a map for you, or note these on your phone.
  • Avoid going places alone and never go anywhere alone with a new acquaintance. If you must go out alone, avoid being out after dark. Leave a note to let someone know where you are going, with whom, when you expect to return, and what you are wearing.
  • Avoid excessive use of alcohol, which is associated with an increased risk of becoming the victim of a crime or accident.
  • Learn basic terms related to safety and emergencies in the host country language, such as “help” and “police.”
  • If you are harassed or threatened in any way, please report the behavior to your instructor, coordinator, or program staff immediately.
  • If you are in an area in which Americans are viewed negatively or as prime targets for crime, keep a low profile and try not to make yourself conspicuous by dress, speech, or behavior that might identify you as a target.
  • Avoid demonstrations and protests. Even peaceful events can quickly turn volatile.
  • Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable, remove yourself from the situation immediately. Maintain situational awareness to identify suspicious persons loitering or following you.
  • Keep your residence locked at all time, even when you are in it. Do not allow strangers or new acquaintances into your residence.
  • Sometimes students traveling abroad feel inspired to participate in high-risk activities that they would not normally consider at home. Keep in mind that safety regulations overseas are not always as strict as they are in the U.S. High-risk activities including but not limited to scuba/skin diving, sky diving, hang gliding, and bungee jumping are not covered under the travel health insurance policies put in place by Study Abroad.
Securing Property
  • Leave expensive items at home, locked up. Do not wear expensive jewelry. If you must travel with expensive items (iPhone, camera, laptop) use them discreetly and secure them when you go out.
  • Keep an eye on your valuables when traveling on overnight flights, buses, or trains. Put your valuables in a security waist pack (rather than leaving them in your stowed carry on) and wear it while sleeping. When you go to the restroom, take your handbag/valuables with you. Put your foot through carry-on bags, backpacks or purses you set on the floor of restaurants or other public areas; do not leave these items loose.
  • Keep your handbag and other valuables away from the street side when walking on sidewalks (and on escalators, away from the opposite ramp). Do not leave your bag on your chair or at your table when at a restaurant.
  • Carry only enough money for that day's purchases. Keep all other funds in a safe and secure location. Avoid going alone to withdraw money from an ATM.
  • Carry just one credit card and photocopies of important documents. Divide money for small and larger purchases so you do not have to expose a wad of bills. Become familiar with foreign currency before you need to use it.
  • Be alert when getting off a bus or train, or when riding escalators - that is when pickpockets tend to strike.
  • Do not exit a taxi until you're sure you've arrived at your destination. Pay while still in the car so that you can be sure you have received the proper change.
  • For additional protection, purchase a policy as part of your travel insurance to insure your possessions before departure.