Safety is generally the last thing on students’ minds with school so close to an end. But with many Spartans making plans to venture abroad for part or all of the summer session, it’s a valid and important issue.
For various reasons, anti-American sentiment is currently at such a level that some American tourists are claiming Canadian nationality. While this shouldn’t deter students from enrolling in study abroad programs, it is true that such travel does carry inherent risks. Many travel abroad organizations offer their own safety guidelines, and several have been published by individual schools through government programs to make students aware of common issues and suggest how they can better prepare.
After whittling baggage down to two suitcases (the number allowed per passenger by most airlines), one of the most crucial pre-travel steps anyone can take is to pack a back-up for everything that is difficult or impossible to replace easily without being within 100 miles of a CVS or Walgreen’s. Keep photocopies of important documents, and be sure to pack emergency money. If traveling with a group, be familiar with or have copies of an itinerary in the event that the group gets separated, especially since most airports are high-activity and very crowded.
Luckily, most details of safety abroad can be taken care of with a bit of pre-planning. Acting with intelligence, and perhaps most importantly, respect towards the culture which one is visiting, should narrow the likelihood of any international incident dramatically. Contingency plans, political awareness, and familiarity with local laws are a few other concerns to be prepared for. There is a truth behind the aphorism ‘better safe than sorry’. Following these guidelines should ensure a fun and safe summer for everyone traveling abroad this summer.
–Safety Abroad Checklist–
1. Contact those people in the United States that need to know that you are safe. 2. Check with the study abroad program for their advice on appropriate procedures. 3. Protect valuable documents. 4. Keep a low profile. Do not wear clothing that identifies you as a U.S. citizen or as wealthy. 5. Avoid places frequented by large numbers of U.S. citizens. 6. Avoid demonstrations, even if they seem peaceful. 7. Be aware of your surroundings at all times 8. Do no take pictures of police or military installations.