As your students consider studying abroad or taking mission trips, the excitement in planning their itinerary often overshadows planning how to stay safe.
A productive trip begins with arriving and assimilating safely, so here are some tips that you can reproduce, modify, and give to your students:
- Explore networking opportunities with others who have returned from the field. Sharing experiences and asking questions will help you to plan your academic and mission success.
- Don’t tell everyone. Do you post about upcoming travels on social media to 500 of your closest friends? Well, don’t do it! Nothing is private. You are announcing to the world that your belongings are free for the taking. Why take that risk? Post your pictures and experiences once you get home.
- Enroll your trip at the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) website—step.state.gov. By doing so, you will receive updates from the US embassy or consulate in your destination country about safety conditions and emergency situations, such as natural disasters or civil unrest. Family will also be able to locate you easier in case of an emergency. You should also know the location of the closest embassy to you while in the foreign country. Stay aware of the safety briefing and travel advisories of your destination so you can make any last-minute adjustments to your itinerary as needed.
- Learn about local culture. Read up on local fashion and try to blend in. Some countries have strict beliefs about modesty and clothing, so it is important to be respectful of the cultural expectations and not make yourself an easy target by looking like a tourist or foreigner. For instance, don’t carry large, expensive cameras or wear flashy jewelry and bags.
- Learn road safety. Learn the rules of the road, street sign symbols, and traffic light designations. For example, the country you are visiting might drive on the other side of the road or give preference to bicycles over cars. Knowing these nuances will help you stay safe as you use ground transportation and walk around the city.
Airport and Flight Safety
- Use your work address or a general school address on luggage tags.
- Load your purse, laptop, and other high value items last when clearing security.
- Do not use free Wi-Fi in the airport.
- Be cautious of distractions; this is an easy way for thieves to access your belongings without you noticing.
- When stowing your carry-on bag, put it on the side opposite to you so that you can see it when the compartment is open.
- Keep an eye on your belongings when on the plane; zip up bags when sleeping or going to the restrooms.
- Only use approved ground transportation, prearranged if possible.
- Don’t say last name, room number, or other personal information out loud during check in.
- Separate your room key from anything that has the room number on it in case it is misplaced.
- Inspect your hotel rooms in pairs. Don’t be reluctant to ask a hotel employee to accompany you.
- Check the locks of your room to ensure they are intact and working properly.
- Check seals of water bottles in room; be aware of broken seals.
- If traveling to a dangerous destination, request a room on the 2nd floor or above.
- Bring a rubber doorstop with you and when possible, wedge it under your door to make it more difficult to open from the outside.
- When traveling alone, leave the TV on and “Do Not Disturb” sign up when not in your room.
- Don’t leave valuables out when you leave your room. Use the safe!
- Watch your phone and valuables when riding in vehicles with open windows.
Helping your students to be aware of safety issues and to prepare themselves for the things they can control will reduce the chances that something will go wrong and improve the possibility that their trip will be productive for the kingdom.
At Raptim Humanitarian Travel, we can’t guarantee trouble-free travels, but we can provide you with the knowledge that we have gathered through 60 plus years of working with travelers just like your students.
We will help them spend time focusing on their mission because COMPASSION MATTERS.
Julie Cook, Marketing Manager, Raptim Humanitarian Travel
Raptim Humanitarian Travel specializes in meeting the uncommon needs of humanitarian and missionary travelers.