International Studies & Programs

International Safety & Security

It's important to be aware of the safety and security risks associated with traveling abroad. Some of these risks are specific to the country you're visiting while others can have an impact regardless of your destination. Below are safety and security tips, and best practices that we recommend for all of our international travelers. If you have questions or concerns about safety and security while traveling abroad, contact us.

Current Travel Safety Advisories

International Travel Safety Message

Research Your Destination

It's important to thoroughly research your destination before you start a education abroad program. You can use our Travel Safety Handout as a guide, and take advantage of these resources:

  • U.S. Department of State Country Information Sheets are issued for every country in the world. They include such information related to embassies/consulates, entry requirements, safety and security, local laws, health, and transportation.

  • U.S. Department of State Travel Alerts are issued for short-term events that travelers should be aware of as they plan their travel. 

  • U.S. Department of State Travel Warnings are issued to indicate that a traveler should consider very carefully if they should travel to the country. Risks associated with travel to these destinations may include unstable government, on-going civil war, intense crime, or frequent terrorist attacks. Many of these Travel Warnings have been in effect for years.

    MSU education abroad programs cannot travel to destinations with a U.S. Department of State Travel Warning without a waiver from the university. Waiver requests are submitted by program leadership and reviewed by the Risk and Security Assessment Committee and approved by the Provost.

  • U.S. Department of State Students Abroad provides useful, easy-to-access information for students from the U.S. traveling abroad.

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers pre-departure travel advice specifically for education abroad students and travel health advisories.

Safety Tips

  • Always be alert within your environment and public places
  • Develop a buddy system with your classmates
  • Report and know how to report suspicious activity
  • Limit time spent at popular tourist sites, crowded public areas, or high profile events 
  • Reduce location identifiers on social media
  • Walk where there is a barrier present between traffic and pedestrians when possible
  • Avoid traveling alone especially at night
  • Do not wear expensive clothes, jewelry or carry expensive luggage
  • Avoid arriving late at night in cities with which you are not familiar
  • Stay on well-lit, heavily-traveled streets
  • Avoid shortcuts through alleys and walking close to the street or buildings
  • Walk against the flow of traffic so you are aware of oncoming vehicles
  • Whenever possible, speak the local language
  • Be aware of pickpockets, especially in large cities
  • Never leave your belongings unattended
  • Be aware of local customs and traditions
  • Keep up with local news
  • Familiarize yourself with the city and the neighborhood. Avoid relying on your cellphone for navigation (it makes it obvious you are a tourist!)
  • Do not misuse alcohol and abide by MSU's zero-tolerance drug use policy. Consuming mind-altering substances in a foreign environment can be dangerous.


  • Know the local “911” for fire assistance.
  • Ensure your accommodation has a working smoke detector.
  • Do not live above the 7th floor.
  • Plan two ways out of every room.
  • Make note of fire escapes and window access.
  • Be careful when smoking or cooking.


  • Know your swimming abilities.
  • Be sure you are swimming in a safe location – whenever possible, swim in a location with lifeguard staff.
  • Be mindful of ocean currents, riptides, and undertows.
  • Use the buddy system while swimming.
  • When swimming in a group, conduct a headcount before entering the water and immediately upon exiting the water.

On the Road

  • Select the safest form of transportation in your area
  • Understand how seasonal hazards affect road conditions
  • Pedestrians should be aware of traffic patterns and regulations 
  • Be alert and wear reflective clothing if jogging at dusk or dawn
  • Do not walk where you cannot be seen 
  • Never hitchhike 
  • Always ride in the back seat of a taxi cab
  • Wear a seatbelt whenever possible
  • Avoid late night road travel

Document Safety

  • Make two photocopies of your passport, including the photo page, and any other travel documentation such as a visa. Leave a copy with your emergency contact at home and pack a second copy separately from the original.
  • In some locations, you may need to carry your passport with you. You are advised to use a money belt to keep your passport close to your person at all times.
  • If it is not necessary to carry your passport with you, carry a photocopy of your passport instead.
  • If your passport is lost or stolen while abroad, file a report with local police. Do not delay in replacing your passport with the nearest Embassy or Consulate. 
  • If you require a visa to enter the United States, do not forget to bring your documents with you abroad.