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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.

Latest Travel Alerts

Statement on Attack in Nairobi

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 issues information and advisories 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 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.

  • International SOS has security reports for your destination and their experts can give you advice relating to your health, safety, and security. Call their 24/7 Scholastic Assistance Line at 1-215-942-8478, access their web-portal, and download their app.

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
  • If you are approached by a stranger, exercise caution. If they engage you in a way that feel unusual or off-putting, extract yourself from the situation and do not worry about being rude. Report what happened to your program director or a trusted local contact. 
  • 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
  • If you are the victim of a robbery, do not resist or try to confront the person afterward. Report what happened to your program director or a trusted local contact. 
  • 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!)
  • If you encounter a corrupt police officer requesting payment for an unjustified fine, remain patient and friendly. Keep a consistent reason as to why you cannot pay the fine. If the officer doesn't relent, request to speak to their superior officer. 
  • 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 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.
  • Do not consume alcohol before or during swimming or water activities.

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.