Stay Healthy and Be Safe

Stay Healthy

Follow All Prophylactic Prescriptions

Which you received during your Travel Health consultation (see details in Personal Preparations under Travel Health)

Take Your Medications

→ Keep the medications in their original containers

→ Take the actual prescription with you (with the drug’s generic name and dosage)

→ Take the prescription and medications in carry-on luggage

→ Also take extra glasses, contacts, and contact solution

Check If Tap Water is Safe

→ Remember that the tap water may be treated with different chemicals from those in your home country and could still make you ill if you drink it, especially for children and the elderly.

→ When buying water from a vendor in the streets, make sure that the cap is still attached to its ring

→ Avoid using ice on drinks

Practice Safe Sex

→ If you are sexually active while traveling, practice safe sex

→ Latex condoms might not be available so take your own supply


Be Safe

Be in the Know

Register you travel (see CU Travel Services under Register Travel section for further details) and subscribe to available email alerts for your host country:

→ Register for Columbia ISOS email alerts

→ Register for STEP Alerts (U.S. Department of State)

In Your Residence or Lodging, if Possible:

→ Make sure there is a working smoke detector

→ When  you arrive, figure out a possible escape route or routes in case there is a fire

→ Make sure door and window locks work

→ Take a small flashlight and keep it handy (there are also Apps for mobile devices that allow you to use the camera flash as a flashlight)

Road Travel

International travelers face a great risk of serious disability or death from motor vehicle related incidents, especially in developing countries. To prevent incidents and accidents:

→ Hire a driver who is familiar with the local road conditions and will know what to do in the event of an accident, especially if you are planning to travel by road while visiting a developing country.

→ Do not allow your driver to drink alcohol. Do not drink and drive yourself. In some countries, it is illegal to drive after having any  amount of alcohol.

→ Make sure your car has seat belts, and use them. If accompanied by young children, carry and use properly secured child-safety seats.

→ Sit in the back whenever possible. The seat behind the driver is usually considered the safest.

→ Avoid traveling during the evening hours.

→ Choose official or marked taxis only.

→ Carry the address of your destination written in the local language.

→ Carry one to two liters of water for each occupant, especially if traveling in hot, remote areas. Dehydration can occur within a few hours. If traveling in hot areas, it is also a good idea to wear a hat to protect yourself from sunstroke.

→ Stay with the car if it breaks down, as it provides your best chance for rescue.

→ For cold weather travel, take an emergency kit with a warm cloth, sleeping bag, boots, shovel, towrope and candle. If you are caught in a snowstorm while driving, burning a candle in the car can provide enough heat to keep you alive. Remember that half the body’s heat escapes through the head and shoulders - mufflers, hats and scarves are essential. Always replace wet clothing with dry clothing, and do not drink alcoholic beverages to keep warm. Alcohol actually increases blood flow to the arms and legs, which accelerates heat loss.

In Public

When taking a bus or train, sit toward the rear to reduce the chance of injury in an accident.

→ On long train journeys, sleep in your own compartment with the door locked, and never accept food or drink from strangers.

→ Always be watchful for pickpockets. Even airport security personnel can sometimes be thieves. Lock all bags and never carry packages for other people.

→ Mark your bags with a bright strap so you can identify them easily.

→ Be careful when sharing information about your lodging, travel plans, or your travel companions (including Facebook and Twitter posts, especially if you are adding new acquaintances)

→ Know the local customs. There are many gestures that you may be accustomed to, but are frowned upon in other countries where they may be seen as the opposite of their intention. For instance, the thumbs up "OK" sign that is used in much of the West is a nasty hand gesture in other countries such as Greece

→ Learn how the locals dress. If the locals are dressed in a moderate way, you should dress the same. You don't want to draw unwanted attention to yourself, especially at sites of religious importance.

→ Keep your cell phone at least 50% charged and don’t let your SIM card balance get too low

→ If you are mugged, always do what the mugger says:  your belongings are never worth more than your life

→ Don’t hitchhike – as mentioned, if you wouldn’t do it at home, don’t do it while traveling

→ If you’re being kidnapped, do anything (without risking your life) to avoid being taken to a second location

Be Aware of Your Surroundings (aka ‘Situational Awareness’)

It could be helpful to refer to the information from the Gadling article: Situational awareness: can you detect danger before it strikes?

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