Tips for Safe Travel

Passport and Visa

Make sure you have a signed, valid passport and visa, if required. Before you leave, fill in the emergency information page of your passport.

Share Your Itinerary

Leave copies of your itinerary, passport data page and visa with family or friends at home so you can be contacted in case of an emergency.

Emergency Contacts

Keep your emergency contact numbers with you at all times.

U.S. Embassy and Consulate Offices Abroad

  • Be familiar with the location and contact information for your local U.S. consulate offices. They can help you in emergencies.
  • Let others know where you are.
  • The OIE will register you with the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (S.T.E.P.).
  • A full listing of consulate offices, addresses and contact information can be found on the U.S. State Department website.

U.S. State Department Consular Information Sheets and Travel Warnings

You should avoid traveling to any location that is presently dangerous, such as the Middle East and some parts of Africa, or for which a travel warning has been issued by the State Department. No matter where you are traveling, it is a good idea to review the State Department's consular information sheets for the appropriate countries.

Let Others Know Where You Are

Remain in contact with your resident director or the foreign student office at your university and your parents. Let them know your whereabouts and welfare so they can update others if necessary.

What to Know Before You Go

Be a Good Guest

Familiarize yourself with and respect the laws, culture, customs and language of the countries in which you are traveling. Remember — while in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws.

Be Smart. Be Alert. Be Safe.

Be alert in your surroundings and the people with whom you have contact. Be wary of people who seem overly friendly or overly interested in you just as you would be in the United States.

Safeguard Your Cash, Documents and Valuables

Never keep all your documents and money in one place or one suitcase. Wear a money belt for large sums of money and travel documents. Don’t flash money or documents in public places. Keep small bills accessible, and use them to pay for things. Be particularly discrete when displaying your passport.

When in large cities, pickpockets will be less likely to target you if you carry a smaller purse or briefcase with a shoulder strap and a secure closure, preferably a zipper. Carry it against your body and under your arm.

Be a Safe, Inconspicuous American Citizen

Be discrete about your American citizenship. Use caution when speaking English in public places. Do not wear clothing that gives away your American status. Students in foreign countries are considered targets. Avoid behaviors or clothing that might draw attention to your American nationality, such as loud or inappropriate speech, conspicuous labels, etc.

Do Not Congregate in Large Groups of Other Americans

This is especially the case in locations that are typically frequented by American students. Avoid or spend little time in bars, restaurants, banks, travel offices, embassies and consulates, schools or churches that are normally identified with Americans. If you find yourself in uncomfortable surroundings, act confident and composed.

Avoid Demonstrations

Don't put yourself in demonstration crowds or in other situations that may become unruly or where anti-American sentiments may be expressed.

Best Practices for International Flight Travel

The following sites were used to compile the following recommendations:

  • Packing
  • Healthy Behaviors & Habits
  • Cleaning & Sanitizing
  • After You Arrive
  • Face masks – don’t forget to bring multiple masks for your journey in the event that one is lost or damaged
  • Face shield or glasses – though all airlines require a face covering to board, a face shield is another way to protect yourself. If the bulky plastic doesn’t sound good to you, you could also wear glasses instead. Cheap frames can provide an additional barrier of protection
  • Water bottle – bring your own water bottle, those with a straw are even better since you don’t have to remove your mask to take a sip
  • Snacks – limiting your need to purchase food at the airport, or eating food provided by the airline
  • Antibacterial wipes
  • Hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol
  • Gloves
  • Thermometer
  • Smart phone or tablet – opt for mobile boarding passes rather than physical paper copies
  • Headphones
  • Travel pillow and travel blanket or scarf
  • Credit card/debit card to avoid handling cash and coins
  • Enough clothes to avoid re-wearing items on your journey

Consider more than just your air time – from getting to the airport, navigating security, and waiting to board. Its important to limit your contact with others as much as possible, maintain a distance of 6 feet between you and others, avoid high-touch surfaces and sanitize your hands often.

Prior to Travel

  • Watch your health. Look for symptoms of COVID-19 and take your temperature if you feel sick
  • Consider how you get to and from the airport. Public transportation and ride sharing can increase your changes of being exposed to the virus
  • Minimize stops or layovers if possible
  • Plan meals, even if its just packing sandwiches

Check In

  • Check in online, opt for mobile boarding pass or print your boarding pass at home. This allows you to avoid airline personnel, kiosks, lines and high touch surfaces.
  • Limit contact with frequently touched surfaces such as kiosks, counters, handrails and elevator buttons


  • Have your boarding pass and ID easily accessible to reduce time with the security agent.
  • Some airports may allow you to keep possession of IDs and boarding passes and simply hold them up for visual inspection. This keeps you from passing materials back and forth from passenger to worker.
  • You may have to adjust or remove your face mask for ID verification. Security officers are required to wear surgical masks, gloves, and have plastic shielding/barriers to limit exposure. This will be for an extremely short time period
  • Avoid accessories and unnecessary layers – if you have to remove it to get through security, don’t wear it to the airport
  • If you do have to remove items (belts or from pockets), put them in your carry-on bag instead of directly in the shared bins
  • Travelers may be directed outside of the security checkpoint to repack items. Continue to maintain social distancing and be mindful of where you’re placing your belongings


  • Keep in mind, many amenities that you may expect such as lounges, restaurants and bars may be closed.
  • Similar to security, have boarding passes easily accessible
  • Elect for mobile boarding passes which can be scanned on a smart phone or tablet

On the Plane

  • Wipe down surface – arm rest, tray table, seat back pocket, air vent, seat touch screen, headrest, and window blind.
  • The same goes for other areas in a the plane such as bathroom door handles, seat tops, and flush buttons
  • Wipe down cell phones or tablets if they were used as mobile boarding passes, and used throughout the airport         
  • Open air vents to help with air flow throughout the plane
  • Use your own headphones – airlines often provide these but they will not be as hygienic as brining your own pair
  • Some airlines have stopped providing blankets to decrease possible contamination. Bring your own travel pillow and travel blanket or scarf.

Some airlines have no choice for meals and snacks. You’ll be served what they offer with no substitutions

  • Use hand sanitizer frequently and often
  • Use antibacterial wipes to disinfect chair armrests, carry on luggage handles or straps, and surfaces
  • Use gloves if you’d prefer – an easy way of being cautious is to wear a few layers of gloves and peel them off as you go through the airport. Remove one pair after check in, another after security, another after boarding, and finally when you arrive at your seat
  • Immediately remove your clothes and wash them prior to next use. This also includes removing your face mask and either disposing of it or cleaning it.
  • Consider getting tested for COVID-19
  • Follow your host country and host institution protocol for quarantine or isolation