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5 Tips for a Safe Study Abroad Trip

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By: Elana Goodwin, Uloop

As a parent, if your student is going to be studying abroad, you are no doubt already worrying about how they will stay safe so far away. Before your student leaves, it is a good idea to go over some safety tips with them as it’ll make both of you feel better.

With that in mind, here are some study abroad safety tips to take into consideration.

1. Prepare pre-trip

Before leaving, make sure you and your student both have any important numbers, addresses, and other info written down and put in a safe place and that you each have a copy. Numbers like those of the local embassy, the university where your student will be studying abroad, and the Study Abroad Office number and contact info at their stateside college should all be kept handy.

Additionally, bank details, credit or debit card number information, a copy of their passport and its number, a copy of their drivers’ license, and health insurance information is key for both of you to have copies of and to keep in a safe place. Any and all paperwork that needs to be done pre-trip should be filled out and your student and you should both keep a copy as well.

Plan for your student to arrive in their study abroad country with a nice amount of their currency already in hand. This way, they have usable money in case they need to arrange their own transportation, buy food, etc., without having to worry about trying to find an ATM. Being prepared and doing research about your student’s host country before your student leaves will enable you both to feel better about your student heading off to study abroad and ensure they stay safe.

Lastly, before embarking on their study abroad experience, your student should see their doctor for a checkup to make sure they are up to date on any vaccines and are in overall good health before they go abroad.

2. Be smart

Make sure your student always carries certain info with them, such as the 911-equivalent in their country, the study abroad office’s number, that of their local embassy, as well as a contact person at the university where they’re studying abroad. Additionally, remind them to never go somewhere without someone knowing where they are and a rough estimate of when they expect to be back. Similar to how they would act at home, your student should stick to public streets when walking and be smart.

They should carry money on their person in more than one place, rather than just in their wallet or purse, in case they are pickpocketed or mugged. Further, advise your student to refrain from being flashy with money or wearing nice jewelry as it’s only asking for trouble. Cross-body bags with zippers that allow your student to keep an eye on their belongings or backpacks with locks are good purchases to make before your student leaves so they can keep their items more secure.

3. Stay aware

It’s crucial that your student stays aware of their surroundings at all times and does their best to blend in rather than blatantly act touristy. Becoming familiar with the city they are studying abroad in will help them not get lost and enable them to not have to refer to maps, which can make it clear to others that your student is a foreigner and lost. Your student should also always be careful and be very cautious when walking around at night.

4. Use the buddy system

In fact, if your student does have to walk around at night urge them to use the buddy system. There’s safety in numbers so whenever your student is going somewhere, they’ll be safer and better off if they travel with a group. Even if your student will be with someone else or multiple people, it’s still a good idea to let someone not with the group know where they’ll be going and for how long, especially if they’re going to travel to another country.

5. File the trip

Your student can register their trip online using the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which is a free service that allows U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. It will send your student updates and information on the country they are studying abroad in, including travel notices and other alerts.

Studying abroad can be a great experience for your college student and really broaden their horizons — but being safe while having that experience is very important, and not just for your own peace of mind. Make sure you go over these safety tips and more before your student leaves to study abroad so you can feel better about them being so far away and know that they are being smart and staying safe.

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