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 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.

  • 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 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 high altitude regions).

Protection against Insects

Tick, mite, and mosquito-borne parasitic and viral infections characteristically are diseases linked to geographic or ecologic regions, and transmission often varies seasonally. The personalized plan you will develop using UCOP's Travel Planner will take this into account.

  • Avoid outdoor activity during twilight periods when mosquitoes are most active.

  • Wear longsleeve 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, during outdoor activity and at the end of the day.

  • Bed nets are essential to provide protection 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 REI.

Protection against Animals

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

  • If bitten, rinse profusely with soap and water for 15 minutes and call the number on your insurance card to be guided an appropriate clinic. It is important to do this ASAP, you need 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). Be aware of 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. Further precautions could include carrying a portable door intruder alarm, a smoke alarm, and a rubber door stop that can be used as a supplemental door lock. Do not resist robbers. 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

  • 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.This provides security evacuation assistance iDuring political turmoil, and iJet alerts in real time regarding political unrest or threats in your area.


Computers, cell phones, purses, watches, and wallets have high street value and can be quickly stolen if you are not alert. Be sure to back up the data regularly, 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 and get a written report, but the majority of stolen items are never recovered.

Last updated: June 2, 2016