Prepare to Travel
Learn About Your Destination
Traveling, living, or working in another country allows you to engage with new cultures and experiences but presents certain personal security risks. Understanding the culture of the host country and developing local relationships will help you determine the most appropriate strategies for safely navigating new environments. It takes time to develop the understanding and skills to recognize and accurately interpret cultural cues and nuances. As you prepare to travel to a new location, learning about the country of destination will minimize security risks and contribute to a productive and safe experience. Understanding the location's political, economic, cultural, and environmental context is vital to your ongoing personal security assessment.
In the Destination check list you can find tips and recommendations on what to learn about your destination before traveling. To help you with your research, the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), also provides high-quality country reports containing essential information. You can visit their webpage and download your destination country's security reports from OSAC to download the Country Security Report.
If you have any concerns, questions, or doubts, you can also:
- Reach out to the Safety & Security team through the Global Hub, to request a pre-departure security briefing. During these briefings, you can ask questions about your upcoming trip and address concerns regarding your destination country.
- Reach out to International SOS before your travel; they can answer any security or medical questions regarding your destination country. Calls to International SOS are free of charge, so you should take advantage of the service they provide. If you call ISOS, ensure to have the International SOS membership card since they will ask for the company name and membership number.
The Pre-Departure checklist provides a to-do list that helps you prepare for your upcoming trip. Be mindful that this document contains general information. Therefore, we encourage you also to consult the information provided by the International SOS webpage and the. Department of State's Country Information pages, as they contain pre-travel tips specific to your destination country.
WOMEN TRAVELERS: All travelers face risks abroad, but women traveling alone or in female-only groups can often face additional risks and obstacles. To be best prepared for your upcoming trip, please see below links to additional information regarding women travelers:
- The U.S. Department Of State provides information for women travelers with a detailed checklist to review in preparation for your trip
LGBTQI+ TRAVELERS: Understand the laws, levels of enforcement, and cultural restrictions toward same-sex activity in destination countries. ISOS has produced a helpful white paper, Managing and Mitigating Risks for the LGBT Mobile Workforce (2018), that we encourage you to consult before departure. Furthermore, please consult the information the U.S. Department of State provides for LGBTQI+ travelers.
Please see below additional valuable links for LGBTQI+ travelers:
- International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association- provides information on LGBT rights worldwide.
- International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association- travel advice for gay and lesbian people.
- Stonewall - global workplace briefings that outline the legal, socio-cultural, and workplace conditions for LGBT people in different countries.
- Asher Fergusson outlines the best and worst places for safe LGBT travel
- Equaldex: collaborative LGBT knowledge base.
Consult And Enroll in Government Safety & Security Alerts
- Smart Traveler Enrollment: we highly recommend travelers enroll with STEP, which enables U.S. citizens to receive information from the embassy regarding new or updated State Department Travel Warnings and Alerts, as well as security and informational messages. In addition, the embassy can reach out to travelers in the event of an emergency in-country and facilitate communication with the traveler should their family need to reach them in an emergency. Travelers who are not U.S. citizens should enroll in their equivalent country's STEP.
- Students Abroad – U.S. Department of State: if you are a student, we encourage you to check the Student Abroad section of the U.S. Department of State's website, as it consolidates several resources about visas, travel warnings, recent embassy messages, important contact information, and general safety & security advice.
- Travel Advisories and Alerts: for a better, more comprehensive understanding of the travel risks, especially regarding high-risk locations, it is possible to consult more than one government's travel warning and alert information. A few English resources to explore may include the Australian Government Smart Traveller, Canada Country Travel Advice, and the United Kingdom Foreign Travel Advice.
- OSAC: The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) provides Country Security Reports, daily news, and U.S. consulate alerts and warnings. Visit OSAC Country Pages.
Learn about Cultural Humility and Ethical Engagement as a Global Traveler
UMB values ethical engagement and mutually beneficial relationships with international partners. Cultural humility is a more useful concept than "cultural competence," which implies that someone can learn all there is to know about another culture. Cultural humility is lifelong learning that focuses on developing awareness of one’s own culture and critical self-reflection as a pathway to understanding other cultures.
Watch this TedTalk by Dr. Juliana Mosley, PhD - This is an invitation to learn why cultural humility is a more profound and impactful way to engage with other people and cultures.
Take the Ethical Challenges in Short-Term Global Health Training online course - This free course created by Johns Hopkins University consists of a series of 10 cases based on real scenarios to introduce trainees and others involved in global health research and service to ethical issues that may arise during short-term training experiences abroad.
Read an article by UMB professor Virginia Rowthorn on ethical challenges to be aware of in short-term global experiences: Not above the law: A legal and ethical analysis of short-term experiences in global health. Annals of Global Health. 2019; 85(1).
Any Safety and Security Questions?
If you have any safety and security questions or concerns about your upcoming trip or destination country, please schedule an appointment with the Safety & Security team. You can directly request a meeting to discuss your travel plans or to request a pre-departure security briefing. When you choose one of the services provided by the International Safety & Security team, please include some details about your trip and whether there are particular topics you would like to discuss. If you have any problem scheduling an appointment, please contact Global Hub at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will assist you with your reservation request.