Travelers need to consider various risks when traveling abroad.
The most dangerous and most widely overlooked risk when traveling abroad is road safety. This is true not only for those operating or riding as a passenger in a motor vehicle but also for pedestrians. This includes the use of motorcycles and similar vehicles for which statistics for injuries and deaths are significant. Helmets may not always be legally required but they are always advised. Additional considerations are road security, rental vehicles, and knowledge of the varying laws and rules of the road, such as which side of the road one drives on. One must also consider actual road conditions and the possibility that farm animals may also occupy the roadways in less developed countries.
Cornell University encourages all international travelers to consult the U.S. Department of State Travel page on Road Safety Overseas. There is a Road Safety section in every “Country Specific Information” page.
NOTE: Undergraduate students on Cornell or Cornell-Facilitated travel are prohibited from operating motor vehicles abroad.
Anyone can become a victim of crime and violence whether it is at home or while traveling abroad. However, it is imperative to know how to prevent or respond to crimes committed in a foreign country.
- This begins from the moment you begin packing in knowing what items to leave behind that might make you a target of crime.
- Study up on the local laws and customs and be alert to recent developments in your destination country so you can avoid dangerous or politically-charged areas.
- Have all of your documents in order, both on your person and at home.
- Register your travel with the U.S. Embassy.
- Make sure you have full insurance, not only for theft and loss, but also for health and emergency services.
- Use common sense while traveling: Be aware of your surroundings, don’t travel alone at night, keep a low profile.
- Have an emergency plan in place BEFORE you travel. Know locations and contact information for local police, hospitals, and other emergency services.
- Exercise caution when using public transportation.
- When in a motor vehicle, keep doors locked at all times and wear seatbelts. Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t leave valuables in a parked car.
- Handle your money safely and don’t flash large amounts of money.
- Consult the U.S. Department of State Travel Warning website for potential risks.
- This also begins BEFORE you travel. If you have done sufficient planning, an appropriate response will be clear if you are a victim of crime or injury.
- Register your travel with your department/college and with the U.S. Embassy.
- This will include a number for the Cornell Police who are available 24/7 to respond.
- If you are traveling on Cornell or Cornell-Facilitated travel, you can obtain and should carry with you a UnitedHealthcare Global ID Card with the Cornell ID# on the Travel Registry website.
These conditions cannot be anticipated, but there are measures that can be taken to prevent such occurrences.
- Illness/Disease: There are several resources available that provide information about common illnesses or diseases that plague particular regions.
- U.S. Department of State, Country Specific Information
- Centers for Disease Control has information about outbreaks of diseases that one can consult prior to travel.
- Cornell Health's travel services can provide information and services about immunizations as well as advice about prevention and treatment of travel-related illnesses.
- Common sense precautions are key to preventing accidents and personal injury. Follow all U.S. rules and provide/use all appropriate safety equipment to reduce risk. For example:
- Have latex gloves when doing any field work that involves handling blood or other biological specimens.Have appropriate safety gear (hard hat, safety glasses, steel-toed boots, etc.) when doing any kind of construction activity.
- Many people find themselves unprepared for the mental/emotional stress of traveling to a foreign country. Cornell Health Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) is an excellent resource for consultation prior to travel (1-607-255-5155, 24/7).
Before you travel, consult the U.S. Department of State Travel Warning website.
NOTE: Undergraduate students may not travel to a country listed under a State Department travel warning without first obtaining permission from the International Travel Advisory and Response Team. Units are prohibited from providing funding for ANY travel to a travel warning country with the exception of Cornell or Cornell-Facilitated travel that has been approved by ITART.
While it is impossible to predict when a natural disaster may occur, it is advisable to check the U.S. State Department’s country-specific information to determine what countries or regions may be prone to floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and more. This information may also be listed on the U.S. Department of State Travel Warning website.