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Travel Safety

Personal safety and crime prevention are key when traveling domestically and abroad.

Woman at AirportIn 2010, nearly 60 percent of students had a run-in with a police officer while on spring break, 1,300 students were arrested in Panama City, FL, and 2,600 were arrested abroad.1 Knowing the laws and sticking to them is important for your safety and enjoyment while traveling.

Familiarize yourself with directions
If you’re heading out on a road trip alone or with some friends, it’s best to become familiar with the directions before you leave. Research a few different travel routes, and map out which one will be the safest for you. Let someone else know your route and your itinerary, and let them know when you’ve arrived safely.
Research your destination
Look at recent crime trends and make note of current issues that may affect your visit. Take time to look at the local laws and familiarize yourself with them to prevent problems with the local authorities. In addition, find the location of the nearest police department and the local U.S. embassy.
Register with STEP
STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) allows those traveling to or living in a foreign country to register information about their trip so that the State Department can assist them in an emergency.
Keep your passport with you
Put your passport in a water-resistant, Radio Frequency Identification-blocking sleeve and keep it with you at all times. The sleeve prevents thieves from electronically reading data chips. Make a photocopy of your passport. In some instances, the photocopy will suffice as identification and will simplify the renewal process. Scan and save a copy in a password-protected file for mobile access.
Pack smart
Do not pack clothes that can set you off as a tourist. Flashy accessories and expensive jewelry can draw the wrong attention. Pack the least amount of valuables possible and leave them in a safe in your hotel room if you don’t need them. Don’t bring your social security card, and try to limit the number of credit cards to one or two if you can. Bring a satchel or a purse that has a cross body strap and a zipper closure, and try to keep your bag in front of you when you’re walking around or standing in a crowd of people.
Keep prescription drugs in their original bottle(s).
Contact your bank in advance to let them know you’ll be traveling, especially if you’re going out of the country.
Unfamiliar purchases on your debit or credit card may signal fraudulent activity to your bank, and your card may be cancelled. Let your bank know the days you will be traveling and where you will be traveling. This way your bank will know that the purchases showing up on your card are being made by you and not by someone who stole your debit card or identity And don’t forget to call your bank immediately if your card goes missing so they immediately stop any transactions from being processed without your consent.
Don’t get into an unmarked car service
Take taxis or other car services only if they are identified with official markings. You could be putting yourself at risk of being kidnapped or taken for ransom.
Keep money in two places so if you’re robbed you will have backup cash.
Being in another country or even a different city and being stranded without any money can be extremely dangerous. Always keep your money in a safe place, such as a money belt, and make sure you have an extra hiding spot for cash just in case you are mugged.

1 Infographics Showcase. (2011). Spring Break Statistics and Facts. Available:

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