General Travel Recommendations Personal Safety

General Travel Recommendations
Personal Safety
Use the same common sense traveling overseas that you would at home, and always
stay alert and aware of your surroundings.
 Undertake pre-travel research using reputable guide books and web resources to
determine threats
 Arrange insurance that is appropriate for the destination and anticipated activities;
include medical evacuation insurance
 Keep family and friends informed of your itinerary, and communicate regularly
throughout the trip—for example, with a travel blog
 Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at
Accidents and Injuries
 Motor vehicle crashes are the #1 killer of healthy US citizens in foreign
 Avoid using scooters or motorcycles and wear helmets if you do so
 Wear seatbelts in motor vehicles and on public transport if available
 Avoid travel at night and in bad weather conditions
 Avoid unsafe travel, such as a quad bike, on the back of a truck, or on the roof of a
 If planning sport or adventure activities, ensure safety equipment is provided and
bring appropriate and well fitting clothing, footwear, and protective eye wear
 Undertake adventure sports with a companion or in a small group, with an
experienced guide if your experience is limited
 Seek local advice on environmental hazards and weather conditions if planning
outdoor pursuits, and carry a mobile phone if possible
 Know the depth of water and any underwater hazards before diving; diving feet first
is advised. Do not dive into shallow water.
 Pay attention to signs and surf conditions when swimming or undertaking water
sports, and use flotation devices or life jackets where necessary
 Do not consume alcohol before swimming, cycling, or using a watercraft
 Remain in vehicles when travelling through wildlife reserves
Violence and Theft
 Avoid travel to areas of conflict or political unrest; avoid participating in local
 Travel with a companion or group
 Stay in secure accommodation and use a safety deposit box
 Use only official taxi services
 Carry minimal amounts of money; a hidden money belt may be useful for holding
passports and larger amounts of money
 Do not wear expensive watches or jewelry
 Dress appropriately with respect to local culture
Avoid illicit drug use and excessive use of alcohol because of the increased risk of
violent attacks and theft
 Never accept food or drink from strangers, and do not leave drinks unattended
because of the risk of “spiking”
 Ensure that hired cars are roadworthy and can be locked securely
 Upload important documents onto a secure website before travel in case of theft
Environmental Related Illnesses
 Seek local advice on environmental hazards, including flora, fauna, and weather
 Wear protective clothing, high factor sunscreen (reapplied regularly), and insect
repellent (also reapplied as directed)
 Carry a first aid kit and know how to use it
 Carry an adequate supply of water and high energy snacks
 Carry a flashlight for walking at night
 Check shoes and clothes carefully for spiders, scorpions, and so on
 Wear a stinger suit when swimming in areas with jellyfish
 Altitude illness usually occurs at about >9000 feet (2700 meters). Symptoms can
include headache, lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, loss of appetite; more
serious symptoms include breathlessness and confusion. When ascending to high
altitude, adjust ascent to 300 m a day if possible; prophylactic medication, such as
acetazolamide, should not replace gradual ascent.
Acetazolamide (500mg once daily or 250mg twice daily): start 24 hours before
ascent and continue daily for two or more days. May cause increased urination and
numbness in extremities. Contraindicated with sulfa allergy.
Do not swim in freshwater in developing areas or where sanitation is poor.
Avoid swallowing water when swimming. Untreated water can carry germs that make
you sick.
 To prevent infections, wear shoes on beaches where there may be animal waste.
Risk Factors for Accidents and Disease
 Studies have shown that students traveling abroad may adopt higher risk behaviors,
such as excessive alcohol use, drug use, and unsafe casual sex
 Such activities are associated with increased incidence of accidents, violence and
sexually transmitted illnesses, which can have lifelong consequences
o Use latex condoms correctly and with all sexual activity
o Do not inject/use drugs.
o Limit alcohol consumption. People take more risks when intoxicated.
o Do not share needles or any devices that can break the skin. That includes
needles for tattoos, piercings, and acupuncture.
Food and Water Illnesses
Eat and drink safely. Unclean food and water can cause travelers' diarrhea as well as
other diseases such as hepatitis A, typhoid, and polio. Wash your hands often, especially
before eating. If soap and water aren’t available, use hand sanitizer.
Food that is cooked and served hot
Hard-cooked eggs
Fruits and vegetables you have washed in clean water or peeled yourself
Pasteurized dairy products
Don't Eat
Food served at room temperature
Food from street vendors
Raw or soft-cooked (runny) eggs
Raw or undercooked (rare) meat or fish
Unwashed or unpeeled raw fruits and vegetables, including salsas and chutneys
Unpasteurized dairy products
“Bushmeat” (monkeys, bats, or other wild game)
Bottled water that is sealed
Water that has been disinfected
Ice made with bottled or disinfected water
Carbonated drinks
Hot coffee or tea
Pasteurized milk
Don’t Drink
Tap or well water
Ice made with tap or well water
Drinks made with tap or well water (such as reconstituted juice)
Unpasteurized milk
Travelers’ Diarrhea
Pepto-Bismol: 2 chewable tablets 4 times per day. Side effects: blackening of tongue and
stool; may cause nausea, constipation, and rarely tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
Contraindicated with aspirin allergy and in some medical conditions.
Early self-treatment with antibiotics can limit the duration of illness to 6–24 hours in most cases.
 Ciprofloxacin: One 500 mg tablet twice daily for 1-3 days.
 Azithromycin: 1000 mg (four 250 mg tablets once) for one day (this regimen may cause
nausea) or two 250mg tabs once a day for 1-3 days (less risk of nausea)
 Imodium can be used with antibiotic therapy to shorten illness duration, but should not be
used on its own, as it may prolong symptoms
 Rehydrate with bottled water and electrolytes (such as a pinch of salt)
Insect Borne Diseases
Bugs (including mosquitoes, ticks, and some flies) can spread diseases such as malaria, yellow
fever, dengue fever, and Japanese encephalitis, to name only a few. Many of these insect borne
diseases cannot be prevented with a vaccine or medicine. You can reduce your risk by taking
steps to prevent bug bites.
Malaria: If the CDC considers malaria a risk at your destination, it is always important to take
malaria prophylaxis and avoid bug bites. Locals or other travelers may minimize the risk of
malaria based on anecdotal information and not recommend medication. However, the risk varies
from region to region and from traveler to traveler, within the same country. Malaria is always a
serious disease and may be a deadly illness.
Malaria Prophylactic Medications: (check with pharmacy for cost with your insurance)
Chloroquine: One 500mg tablet once a week; start one week before travel to region with
malaria, take every week while at risk, and for four weeks after leaving at risk area.
Side effects uncommon (usually not serious enough to stop med): Nausea/vomiting, headache,
dizziness, blurred vision and itching, may worsen psoriasis.
Out of pocket cost: ~$28.30 for 7 day trip to region + $3.03 for each additional week of
travel. May not be covered by all insurance.
Malarone: One tablet once daily; start one to two days before travel to region with malaria,
every day while in at risk area, and for seven days after leaving at risk area.
Doxycycline: One 100mg once daily; start one to two days before travel to region with
malaria, every day while in at risk area, and for 28 days after leaving at risk area.
Side effects uncommon (usually not serious enough to stop med): abdominal pain, nausea,
vomiting, and headache. Do not take if pregnant, severe kidney disease, or allergic.
Out of pocket cost: $106.10 for 7 day trip to region + ~$6.20 for each additional day of
travel. Not covered by Aetna Student Health. May not be covered by insurance.
Side effects: Sunburn (wear sunscreen), nausea/stomach pain if taken on empty stomach, pill
can get lodged in esophagus (take with full glass of water and don’t lie down within 1 hour),
vaginal yeast infection (bring over-the-counter yeast med). Don’t take if pregnant or allergic.
Out of pocket cost: $192.10 for 7 day trip to region + $5.00 for each additional day of
travel (current shortage). May be covered by most insurance.
Malaria medications should be purchased before travel. Drugs purchased overseas
may not be effective, and could be counterfeit as well as dangerous.
Seek immediate healthcare if you develop a fever or flu-like illness while traveling or
for up to one year after returning home. Inform healthcare provider of malaria risk
Avoid Bug Bites
An insect repellent with at least 20% DEET can protect against mosquitoes and ticks. Insect
repellents with the following active ingredients protect against mosquitoes only (but not
ticks): Picaridin, Oil of lemon eucalyptus or PMD, IR3525.
Make sure to read directions and reapply as directed to maintain effectiveness. Repellents
containing a higher percentage of the active ingredient typically provide longer-lasting
protection. Regardless of what product you use, if you start to get mosquito bites, reapply the
repellent according to the label instructions.
When using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
Consider using permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents);
you can buy items already treated or can treat them yourself. Do not use permethrin directly
on skin.
Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
Stay and sleep in screened or air-conditioned rooms.
Use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors.
To prevent tick bites, tuck in shirts, tuck pants into socks, and wear closed shoes instead of
Keep Away from Animals
Most animals avoid people, but they may attack if they feel threatened, are protecting their young
or territory, or if they are injured or ill. Animal bites and scratches can lead to serious diseases
such as rabies.
 Do not touch or feed any animals you do not know. Do not allow animals to lick open
wounds, and do not get animal saliva in your eyes or mouth.
 Avoid rodents and their urine and feces.
 If you wake in a room with a bat, seek medical care immediately.
 Rabies vaccine may still be required after a possible rabies exposure, regardless of previous
rabies shots. Seek medical evaluation as soon as possible.
 The risk of bird flu to travelers is extremely low. People who come in contact with live
poultry may be at higher risk. Avoid live bird or poultry markets.
Updated August 19, 2013