International Safety and Security’s interest regarding travel abroad is not limited solely to university-related travel. We value all members of our university community and want you to enjoy safe and productive travel abroad, whatever the reason for the trip. While International Safety and Security cannot assume responsibility or liability for any advice related to personal travel, we encourage travelers to explore the resources on our website and are available for consultations on personal travel.
Definition of Personal Travel
Personal travel is travel abroad for personal reasons not associated with employment or education abroad activities with the university.
Travel before or after education abroad programs for sightseeing, visiting friends or family, or other interests is considered personal travel. The university, its agents, and its education abroad program are not responsible or liable for any occurrences during such travel. Students participating in personal travel are strongly encouraged to purchase additional travel insurance to cover those periods.
General Travel Tips
Disclaimer: International Safety and Security provides the following links for informational purposes only. However, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information contained in the linked websites and do not specifically endorse any organization, information, or products associated with those websites. We encourage travelers to consult multiple sources to make informed decisions.
Travelers, either novice or intrepid trekkers, should research destination information prior to booking and departing for international locations. It is critical to understand current events, culture, geography, and even the history of the country and region. Travelers should not assume that conditions remain static in foreign countries. Here are some resources to help inform travelers.
- U.S. Department of State (DoS) Travel Website. This website contains links for information regarding passports and visas, specific countries, travel tips, emergency information, and more.
- DoS Traveler’s Checklist Website. This website provides more concise information regarding preparing to travel overseas. It is reachable from the Travel website above.
- DoS Country Specific Information Website. This U.S. government website contains specific information for every country. It has been re-formatted in 2018 to make the information and advice easier to understand.
- DoS Travel to High Risk Areas Website. This U.S. government website provides ideas related to remaining safe while traveling to areas of higher risk. We recommend reviewing the Further Readings section at the bottom of the website for ways to reduce susceptibility to crime.
- Centers for Disease Control Traveler’s Health Website. This U.S. government website provides information related to vaccines, medicines, and general advice on health while traveling. Travelers can select specific countries to be visited, as well as special considerations based on their situation. The TravWell App can be beneficial for understanding country requirements.
- United Kingdom Foreign Travel Advice Website. This U.K. government website provides specific travel information for countries. Similar to the U.S. Department of State website, we encourage travelers to consult this website as a means to be more informed.
- The American Red Cross Website provides a number of Apps for Apple and Android phones that may be helpful in the event of an emergency.
It is important to remain informed during travel. The best method to do so is registering in the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). The benefits of STEP include:
- Receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans.
- Help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.
- Help family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.
We encourage you to plan for the following critical element of travel abroad.
- Communication. Establish a plan for communicating with friends and family prior to departure and inform them ahead of time if you know you will deviate from the plan. Check with your cell phone provider to determine if your plan will work abroad and how much it will cost. Consider buying or renting an unlocked phone that can be used overseas and purchasing a local sim card upon arrival. Verify if your lodging provides internet access, particularly if you plan on relying on Wi-Fi.
- Money. Plan for how you will access money while abroad. Financial institutions in many countries no longer accept traveler’s checks. If ATMs are available, U.S. credit cards (Visa and MasterCard) will work in many countries, but fraud is always a risk. Before travel, alert your bank and/or credit card companies that you will be abroad; banks may freeze your account or lock your card if they do not know that you are traveling overseas. Finally, you should research exchange rates and inquire about credit card fees abroad.
- Itinerary changes. Know how you will make itinerary changes if required. Does your ticket allow for changes? Can you contact your travel agent or the parent company after office hours to make changes? If you must make changes using a local agent, how will you pay?
- Medical care. Research how you will receive medical care if required. How will you find the nearest hospital or specialty provider? Most international health care facilities will not accept U.S. domestic health insurance, even if the insurance provides coverage. The insurance will not usually cover medical evacuation costs if required. You should inquire with your provider regarding policy benefits and coverage amounts. We strongly encourage all travelers to purchase a comprehensive international travel and health policy prior to departure (see next section).
We strongly encourage all travelers to purchase a comprehensive international travel and health insurance policy. However, International Safety and Security does not endorse any particular insurance company or product. Travelers should research companies and read policies very carefully to make an informed choice.
The U.S. Department of State Insurance Providers for Overseas Coverage website lists various insurance companies providing coverage for international travel. Travelers should look for policies with options to cover:
- Health and medications;
- Medical evacuation and repatriation;
- Trip interruption;
- Security evacuation;
- Personal property loss or damage, and
- High-risk or adventure activities.
An option to consider is leisure travel insurance.
As time permits, our staff are willing to provide informal consultations regarding personal travel abroad.