The University of Iowa

Safety and Security Abroad

Staying safe in a foreign country is much like staying safe in an unfamiliar large U.S. city. Travelers should understand the potential threats, know which neighborhoods to avoid, and remain vigilant. All University of Iowa students are required to complete an extensive online pre-departure orientation that covers safety and security abroad.  In addition, students must comply with program-specific orientation and safety planning requirements.  While safety and security guidelines may differ based on destination, some basic recommendations for international travelers are:

  • Use your common sense to assess a situation. Trust your instincts. If it feels wrong, uncomfortable, or strange, leave as quickly as possible.
  • Travel in small groups and avoid walking alone, especially at night.
  • If you choose to drink, use moderation. Don't accept drinks that you don't see prepared. Avoid drugs entirely.
  • Don't allow your sense of adventure to make you feel invincible.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash, and keep your wallet in a place that won't be easily accessible to potential thieves.
  • Keep your program provider or trusted local contact informed about your travel plans.
  • Do not drive motorized vehicles of any kind.
  • Keep informed about political situations. Read local newspapers and/or websites and watch the local news. Check current U.S. Department of State advisories and warnings.
  • Avoid crowds, protest groups or other potentially volatile situations. 
  • Develop with your family a plan for regular telephone or e-mail contact, so that in times of heightened political tension, you will be able to communicate directly about your safety and wellbeing.

To request assistance assessing risks for international destinations, University of Iowa travelers can contact

Additional Resources