Travel Safety Considerations

Food and Water Safety

  • Avoid salads, uncooked vegetables, and unpasteurized milk and milk products such as cheese

  • Eat only food that has been cooked and is still hot

  • Eat only fruit that has been washed in clean water and then peeled by you personally

  • Do not consume food and beverages obtained from street vendors

  • Wash hands or use hand gel with more than 60% alcohol prior to eating, after using the bathroom, and after direct contact with children, animals or any feces

  • Try to avoid swallowing water or submerging your head underwater while swimming

  • Avoid swimming with open cuts or abrasions that might serve as entry points for pathogens

  • Drink a beverage directly from the can or bottle rather than from a questionable container

  • Boiling is by far the most reliable method to make water safe for drinking. Water should be kept at a full boil for at least one minute (three minutes in higher altitude regions).

Protection against Insects

Tick, mite, and mosquito-borne parasitic and viral infections characteristically are diseases of “place” that are linked to known geographic or ecologic regions, and the amount of disease transmission in these areas often varies seasonally. Consult the CDC’s Travelers’ Health web page for alerts and information on regional disease transmission patterns that may change periodically.

  • Avoid outdoor activity during twilight periods (i.e., dawn and dusk) as this is when vector mosquitoes are most active.

  • Wear longsleeved shirts, long pants, and hats to minimize areas of exposed skin. Tuck in shirts.

  • Apply repellents to clothing, shoes, tents, mosquito nets, and other gear to enhance protection.

  • Inspect yourself and your clothing for ticks, both during outdoor activity and at the end of the day.

  • Bed nets are essential to provide protection and to reduce discomfort due to biting insects. Bed nets are most effective when treated with a repellent such as permethrin. Permethrin containing repellents (e.g., Permanone) are recommended for use on clothing, shoes, and bed nets. It can be purchased online at the Great Outdoors Depot for $10.

Protection against Animals

  • Reduce your chances of getting rabies and other infections by avoiding contact with all animals, including stray or wild dogs that account for the highest incidence of rabies outside the U.S.

  • If bitten by any animal, rinse profusely with soap and water for 15 minutes and call your insurance company to seek immediate medical attention (within 24 hours).

  • You must immediately acquire the immune globulin and 5 doses of the vaccine to avoid getting rabies after a bite. If rabies is indicated, it is fatal.

  • Reduce the chance of being bitten or stung by snakes, scorpions, or spiders by wearing shoes with socks, shaking out foot gear immediately before putting it on, and covering headgear that is not being worn.

  • Avoid caves and bats.

  • Avoid live birds and poultry markets to minimize the risk of exposure to Avian Influenza.

Road Safety

The number one cause of mortality in student populations abroad is MOTORCYCLE accidents, closely followed by AUTOMOBILE accidents (including buses, vans, etc). We realize that you will not be able to avoid traveling by cycle or car or van, and we don’t expect you to, but you should absolutely be aware of some safety precautions to reduce risk. Wear a helmet and buckle your seatbelt whenever possible. Don’t walk alone late at night, and keep your valuables locked and as safe as possible. Political protests and uprisings should be avoided. In addition, be aware of traffic patterns and local road culture.

Violence-Related Threats

Preventative measures for violence-related injuries include limiting your travel at night and varying your travel routes, traveling with a companion, avoiding accommodations on the ground floor and immediately next to the stairs, and possibly carrying a portable door intruder alarm, a smoke alarm, and a rubber door stop that can be used as a supplemental door lock. Also, do not resist attackers if confronted but instead give up car and/or all valuables.

  • SAFETI: Safety Abroad First Educational Travel Information – an adaptation of Peace Corps resources for students and organizations

  • Be sure to register your travel before you leave at the UC TRIPS site to trigger your UC Student Off-Campus Travel Accident Benefit and iJet travel alerts.

  • UC Travel Accident insurance provides security evacuation assistance if you are threatened by a local uprising

  • iJet will alert you to political upheavals or threats in your area while you travel


Computers, cell phones, purses, watches, and wallets have high street value and can be quickly stolen if you are not alert. Also, be sure to back up the data on your computer on a regular basis because a stolen laptop without backup files can ruin your visit. Do not leave laptops unattended anywhere, and lock or secure them in safe places. Report stolen items to police, but beware that the majority of stolen items are never recovered.

Last updated: November 8, 2013