Personal Health and Safety

Social Media

  • Be cautious of posting any upcoming travel plans, especially the dates you will be gone. Criminals watch social media to see when people are on vacation, which gives them opportunities for burglary while the homeowner is on vacation.
  • Be cautious what is being posted on status updates and/or pictures while traveling. Some governments monitor social platforms.
  • It is advised not to post personal opinions or views about the destination country’s government or military on social media.
  • Keep open communication with those who know you’re traveling. Update them with any changes to your itinerary.
  • If you decide to be active on social media while you’re abroad and go silent without notice, someone on your friends list might worry. If you are going to a region where internet access is limited, it is advised to let someone know.
  • If you have been posting regular updates but will soon be without internet access, let someone know. Set up a specific day to check in with them.

Dating Apps

  • Even if asking for suggestions from locals about where to go, it is strongly recommended that you not tell them your exact plans or location.
  • Be cautious about revealing personal information and travel plans when talking to strangers.
  • Do not accept food or drinks from people you do not know.
  • There are stereotypes in other countries regarding dating apps and the people who use them. Be cognizant of social norms in other cultures and possible repercussions for using these services.

Taking Pictures

  • Understand that in some locations it can be inappropriate or illegal to take pictures of certain individuals, ceremonies, or places. If unsure, it is appropriate to ask for permission.
  • Structures, such as government buildings, voting centers, embassies, military facilities, vehicles (including airplanes), religious structures, and palaces may have restrictions on photographing.
  • Many places have banned “selfie sticks”, especially museums and art galleries in Europe.
  • Be aware that close contact with children, including taking their pictures, can provoke panic in some communities.
  • Some countries have made it illegal to take photographs of people unless everyone in the photograph has given permission.
  • It is important to respect the people and communities abroad. If a person declines a photograph, a traveler should always respect their wishes.

Street Smarts

It is important to remain aware of your surroundings no matter where you are, but it is especially important when you are somewhere you are not familiar with. While using common sense, try to remember the following:

  • Keep a low profile and dress in accordance with local social norms.
  • Some behaviors might be deemed inappropriate. These can vary from country to country, but some include lewd acts, kissing, drinking alcohol, and immodest skin exposure.
  • Don’t ever flash valuables and keep a close eye on your things.
  • It is not advised to travel alone after dark. If this is unavoidable, walk in well-lit areas where there are small crowds of people.
  • Be cognizant of your surroundings at all times.
  • Report any suspicious behavior to authorities.
  • If attending an event, it is advised to wait a few minutes for the crowd to disperse before leaving the area.
  • Be aware of emergency exits – the way in is not always the best way out.
  • Adhere to official directives at all times.
  • Keep your cell phone charged with plenty of minutes on it in case of an emergency. If something happens, let your loved ones know you are okay and be ready to respond to any communication from the university.
  • Program emergency contact numbers into your phone, including the police/fire department, emergency services, and On Call International.