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Street Smarts

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In Public

  • Be wary of how you hold your purse or handbag. Keep it in front of you and make sure that your purse of bag is fully zipped.
  • Be wary of where you keep your wallet – a back pocket is exactly where thieves expect it to be.
  • Avoid wearing conspicuous clothing and expensive jewelry. Do not become an easy target for thieves!
  • When overseas, avoid demonstrations and other situations that may become unruly or where anti-American sentiments may be expressed.
  • Consider taking a self-defense class before leaving campus.

Out and About

  • Avoid placing your purse or bag on the back of your chair or at your feet while in a public place. These are easy targets for robberies.
  • Take extra caution while using internet cafes. Since these places are frequented by Americans, robbery is also common.
  • Many travelers invest in money belts to wear under their clothes as a hard-to-reach place for large amounts of cash and your passport.
  • Tell a friend what your plans are, let people know when they should expect you back.


  • Do not leave your luggage unattended in public areas or on any forms of public transportation.
  • Keep a close eye on luggage while on a train, especially overnight trips. Try to keep your bag with you at all times (even in bed!)
  • Locks for zippers can be a good theft deterrent.



International SOS, which partners with Vanderbilt to provide emergency services to VU students, faculty, and staff overseas, has excellent travel safety information as well as safety/security reports on individual countries:

International SOS Partner Portal

The US State Department provides a number of useful resources on safety and on countries and world regions:

Department of State: A Safe Trip Abroad
Department of State: Students Abroad
Department of State: Country-Specific Information
Department of State: Travel Warnings


In assessing international safety and security issues and preparing for travel it is often useful to compare advisories and warnings from other sovereign governments in addition to official US sources. The list below is representative of such sources:


Canadian Foreign Affairs and International Trade Office
British Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Republic of Ireland Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
German Federal Foreign Office (German only)
Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
France-Diplomatie-Ministère des Affaires étrangères et européennes (French & English)
Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (English, Hebrew, Arabic, Russian)
Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (English, French, Arabic)
Indian Ministry of External Affairs (English, Hindi, other)
Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (English)
People’s Republic of China Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in English)
Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (English, Russian, French, German, Spanish)


Destination Guides


Moon Travel Guides
Lonely Planet
Rough Guide
Let's Go