General Safety InformationStaying safe while overseas is so important to ensure you have a successful and enjoyable study abroad experience. The best way to stay safe while abroad is to engage in safe behavior. The following tips can help keep you safe.
- Don't travel alone, especially at night or on long trips. Always let people know where you are going and when you will be back.
- Always be aware of your surroundings and watch out for pickpockets, especially in crowed tourist areas or on public transportation.
- Always take official taxis. If meters are used in taxis in your destination country, be sure you tell the driver that you would like them to use the meter. If meters are not used, always agree on the fare before you get in.
- Notify your in-country program director of any travel plans and find out what methods of transportation are safest and whether any roads should be avoided.
- When meeting new people, always meet in a public/common space. Never invite people you just met to your room.
- Don't consume alcohol in countries where alcohol is against the law and don't drink excessively in countries that permit the consumption of alcohol. Public intoxication is against the law in many countries and also makes you a target for crime and violence.
- Always practice safe sex.
- Avoid areas with public demonstrations or any kind of civil disturbances. These events can escalate without notice and lead to arrests and injury.
Smart Traveler Enrollment ProgramThe Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service for U.S. citizens travelling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate and receive important information from the embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans. Your enrollment will help the U.S. embassy, family, and friends contact you in an emergency. Click here to enroll your trip.
Country Specific Safety Information
Before you go, be sure to thoroughly research your destination. The U.S. Department of State website maintains country-specific information for each country students can study abroad and includes information about the location of the U.S. embassy and any consular offices, information about whether you need a visa, crime and security information, health and medical considerations, drug penalties, localized hot spots and more.
Go to the U.S. Department of State Country Information website and thoroughly read and understand all the information for each destination you intend to visit. Follow the instructions to apply for a visa to your destination(s).
Many women travel safely each year without incident. However, when it comes to health and security, women travelers are more likely to be affected by religious and cultural beliefs of the foreign countries they visit. The truth is that women face greater obstacles, especially when travelling alone.
The U.S. Department of State Information for Women Travelers website contains valuable information to help women stay safe while traveling, including tips to protect yourself while traveling, information on sexual assault, FGM, domestic violence, and forced marriages. Visit their website here to learn about the measures you can take to safely travel abroad.
LGBTQ travelers face unique challenges when traveling abroad. Laws and attitudes in some countries may affect safety and ease of travel. Legal protections vary from country to country. Many countries do not legally recognize same-sex marriage. More than seventy countries consider consensual same-sex sexual relations a crime, sometimes carrying severe punishment.
Vital information for LGBTQ travelers is maintained on the U.S. Department of State LGBTI Travel Information website, including information to prepare for traveling, steps to take while abroad, as well as additional links and resources. Be sure to read through the information before you go and do not hesitate to reach out to the Office of Education Abroad if you have any questions or concerns.
Emergencies AbroadWhile these preventative measures can ward off some dangers, anyone can be a victim of a random accident or theft. For these circumstances, it is a good idea to have travel insurance available in case medical attention is needed. It is also important to know what steps to take in the event of an emergency. Be sure to review the information on the U.S. Department of State's Emergencies Abroad Website.
If you are in trouble, contact:
- The U.S. embassy and host country authorities
- The equivalent of 911 in you destination
- Your in-country program director
- CISI (the insurance provider for most UAB Education Abroad participants)
- Your emergency contact
- UAB Office of Education Abroad and the UAB Police (remember that we are thousands of miles away and often can't respond as quickly as in-country officials)