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 disturbances.
  • 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 authority.
  • 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 consulate.
  • 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 112
  • 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 abilities.
  • If you are fearful or confused about anything, share your concerns with the director of your program or a FORSPRO program employee.