Staying Safe Abroad
Pease follow these important guidelines to help you have the safest study abroad experience possible.
Before you go:
- Be aware that some behaviors that are culturally and legally acceptable and safe in the US may not be safe or legal in your host country (special consideration for LGBT, female, and first time travelers)
- Understand the cultural and political environment you are visiting. How do people in your host country view students from the US? What are people's attitudes on gender, race, sexuality and what are the local laws on these issues?
- As prompted in your UMass Abroad account, register your travel plans with the US State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program
- Develop a plan with your family in the US for regular contact so that in case of an emergency you can communicate directly about your safety and well-being
While you're abroad:
- Always carry a working cell phone and know who to contact in an emergency
- Keep extra copies of your passport, any visas, medical documentation or prescriptions, all ATM debit or credit cards and insurance cards (front and back) in a safe place in your host country residence
- If possible, travel with companions at all times. Familiarize yourself with your surroundings and refrain from going out at night by yourself
- Know how to ask for help in your host country's language
- Avoid demonstrations or other potentially volatile situations
- Know your limits and do not drink too much
- Don't carry large amounts of cash with you
- Stay alert in crowded environments
- Keep all of your items (baggage, purse, etc) within your sight at all times
- Stay clear of unattended luggage or parcels in airports, train stations, or other public areas
- Keep your room locked
- Report to responsible authorities any suspicious persons loitering around your residence or instructional facilities
- Keep a low profile and try not to make yourself conspicuous by dress or speech
- Use common sense when divulging information about yourself
- Make sure the resident director, host family, or foreign university official who is responsible for your welfare, knows how to contact you in case of an emergency and remain in regular contact with on-site personnel at your foreign location
- Share your schedule and itinerary with on-site personnel whenever you plan on traveling
- Understand that traffic accidents and drowning are the leading causes of death for American students abroad
- If you are swimming while abroad please exercise extreme caution particularly in developing countries where emergency services may not be readily available. Make sure to heed all warning signs or flags especially for riptides. Never swim alone or intoxicated and be clear with others about your swimming abilities.
- Guidelines from Association of Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT) suggest that you select the safest form of transportation possible, avoid late night road travel in countries with poor safety records and/or mountainous terrain, be aware of any seasonal conditions or local holidays that might affect traffic. As a pedestrian, make sure you are aware of the traffic patterns in your host country, always be alert at intersections, wear reflective clothing if jogging, and do not hitchhike. As a passenger, make sure never to ride with driver that appears intoxicated, always ride in the back seat of a taxi and always wear a seatbelt when possible.