Millions of U.S. citizens travel
abroad each year. When you travel abroad, the odds are in
your favor that you will have a safe and incident-free trip.
However, crime and violence, as well as unexpected
difficulties, do happen in all parts of the world. Below are
safety tips to make your experience abroad as enjoyable and
safely as possible.
Safety On The Street
- Use the same common sense traveling overseas that
you would at home.
- Don't use short cuts, narrow alleys or poorly-lit
streets. Don't travel alone, especially at night.
- Avoid public demonstrations and other civil
- Do not discuss travel plans or other personal
matters with strangers.
- Beware of strangers who approach you, offering
bargains or to be your guide.
- Beware of pickpockets. They often have an accomplice
who will hostle you, ask you for directions or the time,
point to something spilled on your clothing, or distract
you by creating a disturbance.
- Try to seem purposeful when you move about. Even if
you are lost, act as if you know where you are going.
When possible, ask directions only from individuals in
- If you are confronted, don't fight back. Give up
your valuables. Your money and passport can be replaced,
but you cannot.
- To avoid carrying large amounts of cash, change
money only as you need currency. One of the wonders of
the modern world is the automatic teller machine (ATM),
which allows students to withdraw money from his or her
US-based checking account while abroad. The usual
warnings about ATM use--keep the ATM card safe and
inaccessible, keep your personal identification number
in your head rather than on paper, avoid making
withdrawals from isolated or unprotected
locations--apply to ATM's abroad with equal force.
- Do not flash large amounts of money when paying a
bill. Make sure your credit card is returned to you
after each transaction.
- If your possessions are lost or stolen, report the
loss immediately to the local police. Keep a copy of the
police report for insurance claims and as an explanation
of your plight. After reporting missing items to the
police, report the loss or theft of:
- credit cards to the issuing company,
- passport to the nearest U.S. embassy or
- You can be arrested overseas for actions that may be
either legal or considered minor infractions in the
United States. Be aware of what is considered criminal
in the country where you are. Consular Information
Sheets include information on unusual patterns of
arrests in various countries when appropriate.
- The U.S. Embassy is the place where you go in the
event you need a new passport should yours be lost or
stolen. In Spain, the office is located at Serrano 75,
Madrid, telephone 91-587-2200.
- For routine and non-urgent emergency services you
can call the local tourist office listed on our web site
and get phone numbers to police departments,
transportation companies, hospitals, and so on. To
contact the emergency services in any EU country, dial
- Stay sober. Although you will likely find the
drinking laws in Spain and France to be less restrictive
than those back home, you are urged to be moderate in
your consumption of alcohol. To incapacitate yourself
with strong drink is to make yourself vulnerable to
mischance. Inebriation weakens your judgment, your
self-protective inhibitions, and your observational
- If you are fearful or confused about anything, share
your concerns with the director of your program or a
FORSPRO program employee.