Important Safety Tips For Going Abroad

By Ashley Paskill on November 1, 2018

Traveling or studying abroad is a huge bucket list item for many. Most schools emphasize the importance of gaining a cultural perspective of the world and delving into countries outside of the United States. However, travel experiences can take a bad turn due to unsafe circumstances that can be avoided. It is important to be safe in order to get the most out of your travel abroad experiences and to have the best trip or semester abroad possible.

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Avoid walking alone if possible

Being in a new place, especially an entirely new country, can be intimidating and scary. If you decide to study abroad, you will likely be going abroad with a bunch of classmates who are studying at the same school. Even if you are the only one from your school you will have classmates. Try to make friends with classmates or fellow travelers and try to stick with a group if possible.

If you are alone, whether you traveled abroad alone or are out on your own without classmates, walk as closely as possible with a couple or group of people to make it seem like you are not alone. While this may seem creepy and weird, it will help reduce your risk of standing out. Also, do your best to stay in tourist and well-lit areas, especially at night.

If you feel like you are being followed, ask a security officer or someone in a public place for assistance. Do not, under any circumstances, go to where you are staying if you feel like you are being followed. If you are familiar with where you are, switch your path to a weird or strange walking pattern. If your alleged follower keeps following you, seek assistance as soon and as safely as possible.

Keep your valuables safe

Keeping your valuables safe while abroad is crucial. It is important to keep items like plane tickets and your passport out of reach of potential robbers as you will need these items to get home. Only bring the essential valuables you need and leave the rest at home. If you absolutely need to bring a valuable, know exactly where you have it in your hotel and bag. Keep your valuables in your carry-on bag to avoid losing your valuables in process of flying.

If you plan on having cash on you, take what you need and leave the rest in your hotel or apartment. Keep your cash in a couple different places in your room. That way, if someone does break in, you will have less of a chance of the person taking all of your cash. Make sure to alert your bank or credit card company that you are traveling so that you can use your card abroad and make sure you know how to keep your card information secure.  Keep a close eye on your statements and hold onto all of your receipts.

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Do your best to avoid looking like a tourist

Wear clothing that helps you fit in with the environment. Potential thieves know what tourists look like, and tourists are often targeted for robbery. Know the rules of the land and be considerate of the culture. Dress appropriately, avoiding overly-revealing clothing unless you are going to a nightclub or party. Be as familiar with the language as possible and avoid the temptation to overshare information about yourself with complete strangers.

Stay connected with people you are traveling or studying with. If you are traveling alone, keep in touch with people back home and fit in with crowds of people. Keep in touch and let loved ones know that you are okay. If you are traveling with people or are studying abroad, go out with a group or buddy. If you do get lost, go into a shop or other public place to ask for assistance. Do your best to avoid asking random strangers for assistance with directions, as they may lead you down a dangerous road. Avoid constantly looking at maps or your GPS. Also, make sure you register at the Embassy so that you are protected in case something were to happen.

Make sure you are healthy

Check in with your doctor to see if you need any specific immunizations for where you are going. Get a checkup to ensure that you are healthy enough to fly or take a boat, and if you get motion sickness due to either of these modes of travel, ask your doctor for tips for dealing with this. Make sure you have health insurance that will cover you abroad. There are a number of health insurance programs that can help you abroad.

If you take medication, make sure you have enough to last you for the trip if needed. If you are studying abroad for a semester, explain your circumstance to your doctor and have them give you a prescription to fill before you leave. Make sure you know your plane’s policy for bringing medicine onto the plane and if possible, have it in your carryon bag. Keep a list of your health complications, allergies, and medication doses with you and a copy in your hotel or apartment just in case you need the information.

Traveling abroad is meant to be fun and exciting, but one bad incident can ruin the trip or study abroad experience. It is important to stay safe and trust your instincts to make the most out of your experience.

By Ashley Paskill

Uloop Writer

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