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Study Abroad and Mission Trips

Productive and Safe!

Every year, many students prepare to begin their study abroad or mission trips. The excitement of different cultures and unexperienced locations can overshadow the need for attention to the small planning details.

Tips for a study abroad or mission trip

  • Explore networking opportunities
    With those who have returned from your field. Sharing experiences and asking questions provides a basis for upcoming studies and service. It can be a real head start in planning the steps to academic and mission success. Learning from others prepares you to teach others.
  • Productivity
    Is dependent on arriving and assimilating safely. Carefully thought out goals for your study abroad program or mission cannot be realized without a steady eye to safe travel in route and on the ground.
  • Safety
    This begins at home. It is almost instinct to post about upcoming travels on social media to 500 of our closest friends. Don’t do it! Nothing is private and you are just announcing to the world that no one will be home and your belongings are free for the taking. While burglary is not guaranteed, why risk it? Post your pictures and experiences once you get home.
  • Make sure to register your trip with your home country. For example, in the USA, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service for citizens and nationals to register their trip with the nearest US Embassy or Consulate. It is also a good idea to research the location of the closest embassy once you arrive in a foreign country.
  • Learning about local culture is also beneficial. Some countries have strict beliefs about modesty and clothing and it is important to be respectful and not make yourself a target as a tourist or foreigner. Read up on local fashion and try to blend in. Carrying large, expensive cameras or wearing flashy jewelry or bags can also make you a target.
  • If you must use ground transportation or walk through the city, observe the flow of traffic and traffic light designations to avoid being hit or causing collisions. The country you are visiting might drive on the other side of the road or give preference to bicycles over cars, knowing these nuances will help you stay safe.

Airport and Flight Safety

  • Use your work or a general school address on luggage tags
  • Load your purse, laptop and other high value items last when clearing security
  • Do not use free Wi-Fi in the airport
  • Be aware of distractions, this is an easy way for thieves to access your belongings without you noticing
  • When stowing your carry-on bag, put it on the side opposite to you so that you can see it when the compartment is open
  • Keep an eye on your belongings when on the plane, zip up bags when sleeping or going to the restrooms

Upon Arrival

  • Only use approved ground transportation, pre-arrange if possible
  • Be aware of the safety briefing and travel advisories of your destination in advance
  • Don’t say last name, room number or other personal information out loud during check in
  • Separate your room key from anything that has the room number on it in case it is misplaced
  • Inspect your hotel rooms in pairs. Don’t be reluctant to ask a hotel employee to accompany you.
  • Check the locks of your room to ensure they are intact and working properly
  • Check seals of water bottles in room, be aware of broken seals
  • If traveling to a dangerous destination, request a room on the 2ndfloor or above
  • Bring a rubber doorstop with you and when possible, wedge under your door to make it more difficult to open from the outside
  • When traveling alone, leave the TV on and “Do Not Disturb” sign up when not in your room
  • Don’t leave valuables out when you leave your room. Use the safe!
  • Watch your phone and valuables when riding in vehicles with open windows

Traveling is an adventure and we know you’re planning a study abroad or a mission trip to do good in the world. Remembering to be aware and thoroughly preparing yourself for the things you can control will reduce the chances that something will go wrong. We can’t guarantee trouble free travels, but we can provide you with knowledge we have gathered through 60 plus years of working with travelers just like you; making sure you can spend time focusing on your mission because compassion matters. Never hesitate to contact us should you have any questions about arranging a study abroad or mission trip.