Travel Safety

Alcohol and Drug Use

Alcohol and drug use carries serious health, cultural and legal risks for all travelers.

In addition to these issues, alcohol and drug use can lead to disciplinary actions for Florida Atlantic University students and employees, who must abide by the Student Code of Conduct and applicable University Policies. Furthermore, Florida Atlantic University students participating in university-sponsored experiences abroad who exhibit excessive, irresponsible intoxication and behavior that interferes with the rights of others or causes a disruption in the program, may be subject to the following consequences:

  • Dismissal from the program or experience.
  • Return home at traveler’s own expense.
  • Emergency contact notification.

Alcohol abroad

Travelers should use good judgment if consuming alcohol. Drinking heavily is not only a significant danger in a foreign country, it may also be seen as extremely culturally inappropriate in many places. Travelers should be aware of the customs in their host country. Drinking to get drunk is rarely acceptable, and binge drinking is seen as disrespectful and problematic in many cultures. Travelers should consider these issues when choosing how to represent themselves as a Florida Atlantic University and U.S. traveler abroad.

Drugs abroad

DO NOT do drugs abroad – the penalties are dangerous. Drugs are illegal in most countries and drug laws are often stricter than in the U.S. For example, in some countries:

  • Possession of a relatively small number of illegal drugs can be grounds for mandatory sentences or even the death penalty.
  • It can be illegal even to enter the country with drugs in one’s system.
  • Purchasing prescription medications in quantities larger than considered necessary for personal use could result in arrest on suspicion of drug trafficking.

Once travelers have ventured beyond U.S. borders, they are no longer protected by U.S. laws or constitutional rights. It is each traveler’s responsibility to know the drug laws in their destination county prior to travel.

For your safety, do not accept packages from anyone. This is often a scam to trick travelers into smuggling drugs or contraband. If you carry a package that contains illegal drugs or substances, the fact that you did not know you were carrying it will not reduce the charges. Possession of contraband or paraphernalia associated with illegal drug use can also cause legal action.


Crime Deterrence

While it’s common for travelers to focus their concerns on violent crime, kidnapping or terrorism, the most common crimes abroad are petty crimes, such as pick-pocketing and non-violent theft.

Situational awareness

Learn about the cultural and political environments of the countries you visit to reduce your risk of exposure to crime.

    • How do locals view travelers from the U.S.? How should this affect your behavior?
    • What are people’s attitudes about gender relations, race, sexuality, etc., and how are they reflected in local laws?

Consider modifying daily activities that may put you at risk.

    • Is there something, like jogging or staying at the library late, that you do here which might not be as safe abroad?
    • What should you think about/research before doing these same things abroad, or should you perhaps not do them abroad?

Accept that you may be perceived as wealthy, even if you are not.

    • Would displaying your iPhone, iPad or other expensive electronic devices put you at risk for theft?
    • What steps can you take to be discreet with your devices, especially when out and about?
    • What measures can you take in your residence to store valuables securely?

Recognize that certain types of clothing or accessories could increase your risk of crime.

    • When traveling in a location where anti-American sentiments are present, would wearing college sweatshirts or baseball caps invite unwanted attention?

Understand that traveling in countries where women are more modestly dressed for religious, cultural, or societal reasons may require changing your own manner of dress.

    • Is it considered inappropriate in this location for women to wear shorts, camisole tops, leggings, short skirts, or tight-fitting clothing?

Trust your instincts to help keep you safe.

    • What types of specific situations would make you feel uncomfortable or seem out of the ordinary?
    • Are you worried about encountering any specific unsafe or uncomfortable situations abroad?

When in a situation that feels dangerous, always trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, speak up. Your safety is important.


Transportation Safety

Traffic accidents are a leading cause of death of Americans abroad. FAU travelers can minimize their risk by assessing the road culture in travel areas and implementing safety precautions.

The following are suggestions for travelers:

  • Select the safest form of transportation in your area.
  • Avoid late-night road travel in countries with poor safety records and/or mountainous terrain.
  • Understand how seasonal hazards affect road conditions.
  • Know the dates of local holidays or gatherings (when road accident rates rise).

Additional suggestions for pedestrians are:

  • Be aware of traffic patterns in your area (they may be very different from those in the U.S.).
  • Be especially alert at intersections.
  • Wear reflective clothing if jogging at dusk or dawn.
  • Do not walk where you cannot easily be seen.
  • Remember that most road fatalities are pedestrians.
  • Avoid hitchhiking.

Additional suggestions for passengers are:

  • Avoid riding with a driver who appears intoxicated, irrational, or over-tired.
  • Always ride in the back seat of a taxicab.
  • Wear seat belts whenever possible.

Road travel in some developing countries poses additional road risks. Public transportation in some areas may consist of overcrowded, overweight, and top-heavy minivans or buses. Taxicabs may not appear to be in good condition, and drivers may or may not be licensed. Sidewalks may or may not be lit or exist at all. In these cases, follow the advice of the on-site staff, program providers, or other responsible individuals administering or assisting with your travel.

For more information about safe international road travel, visit the Association for Safe International Road Travel website.


Fire Safety

While traveling and staying at a hotel or motel, fire safety is likely the last thing on your mind. But it’s a good idea to know your surroundings and have a plan. Whether traveling alone or in a group, safety should always be a top priority.

Safety Tips:


  • Begin preparing for a hotel/motel fire before you leave home — Request a room closer to ground level and ask if the hotel/motel has smoke alarms and sprinklers.


  • At check-in, identify all exits, stairways and escape routes.
  • Locate the two exits closest to your room and count the number of doorways between your room and the nearest exit.
  • Check room windows for operation; identify roof or deck that can be safely used in the event of fire.
  • Keep room key and eyeglasses on nightstand or a place where they can be easily located.


  • If the fire is in your room, get out quickly. Close the door, sound the alarm and notify front desk.
  • If the fire is not in your room, roll out of bed and crawl to the door; take your room key so you can get back in to take shelter if necessary.
  • Use a wet cloth or cover your nose/mouth with the top of your shirt to protect from smoke/fumes.
  • Feel the door with the back of your hand. If hot, do NOT open it. If not, open the door slowly and be prepared to close it quickly if smoke enters.
  • Check the hall. If it’s clear, walk quickly to the fire exit and get out and away from the building. If there is smoke in the hall, crawl to the exit and get out. If there is fire and thick smoke at lower levels, return to your room and call for help.
  • If you become trapped in your room turn on the bathroom vent, open the windows, phone 9-1-1 for help and give your room number, fill the bath with water, stuff the cracks of your door with wet towels and sheets.
  • Use stairs (never elevators), for escape!


Vehicular burns are, for the most part, preventable. Common sense and awareness of specific hazards will go a long way in keeping you and your family safe.

Safety Tips:

  • When the vehicle’s interior is hot, check the metal portions of seat belts before fastening. A quick check with your hand, especially with infant car seats, is all it takes. If too hot to the touch, it’s too hot for the baby.
  • Cover metal parts when possible and never place a child in a plastic or leather seat without checking first!
  • Allow radiator to cool before removing cap; wear long sleeves and gloves to protect hands and arms and keep your face averted to prevent any liquid from spraying into your face or eyes.
  • Never lean over the radiator when opening it!