Staying safe and healthy abroad

You can avoid or be prepared for many of the health, safety and security concerns you may encounter abroad by planning ahead and doing your research.

  • Before traveling to your program location, carefully review the health, safety and security information in the Mizzou Abroad Orientation as well as any other information provided by your program.
  • Review the information for international travel on the U.S. Department of State website for your program location and other places you plan to travel.
    • You are subject to the laws of your host country when you travel abroad. Criminal penalties in other countries may differ significantly from U.S. laws and may have severe consequences regarding illegal drugs, specific speech, LGBTQI+ travelers and other areas.
  • Stay informed by monitoring local and international news sources.
  • Remember to download the AlertTraveler app and review the security information for your program location and other places you plan to travel.
  • Fill out this emergency information card and carry it with you at all times while you are abroad.
  • Be aware of what is going on and who is around you at all times.
  • Dress to blend in with local people.
  • Always keep track of your belongings. When traveling, consider securing your passport, credit cards and other valuable items in a money belt or pouch.
  • Avoid carrying expensive electronics and wearing expensive or flashy jewelry.
  • Don’t draw attention to yourself by speaking English loudly in public spaces.
  • Avoid places where Americans are known to congregate.
  • Avoid protests and other potentially volatile situations.
  • Do not go out alone at night and don’t leave other students on your program out alone. Try to go out in small groups.
  • Don’t impair your judgment by overconsumption of alcohol.
  • Be wary of receiving unexpected packages and avoid unattended luggage or packages in public areas.
  • Use caution when divulging information about yourself, your program and other students.
  • If you are a U.S. citizen, enroll in the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. Citizens of other countries are encouraged to register their travel with their country’s embassy/consulate.
  • Make sure the primary MU on-site contact knows where and how to contact you in an emergency and knows your schedule and travel itinerary.
  • Register any independent travel during your program in myStudyAbroad.
  • Develop a plan with your family for regular communication, especially when you are traveling away from your program location.
  • Review the information for travelers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for specific health issues and recommended vaccinations for your program location and other places you plan to travel.
  • Check the World Health Organization website for information about disease outbreaks and emergencies.

Many MU students with documented disabilities study abroad each year. However, you may find that accessibility and accommodations abroad differ from what you are used to in the United States. Research the host culture’s attitude toward your disability (additional resources below).

If you anticipate needing a reasonable accommodation abroad:

  1. Consult with the MU Disability Center early in your planning process. You must register with the Disability Center to discuss possible accommodations for study abroad.
  2. After you are accepted to your study abroad program, complete the accommodations request for students with disabilities in myStudyAbroad.
  3. Your request will be reviewed by an access adviser in the Disability Center and you will meet with them to discuss the accommodations you need. Then the MU Office of International Health, Safety and Security will work with your study abroad program and communicate with you and the Disability Center about available accommodations.

Service and emotional support animals

It may be possible to bring a service or emotional support animal with you on your study abroad program. There may be costs, rules and practical issues to consider. You should note your desire to bring a service or emotional support animal in your accommodation request for students with disabilities in myStudyAbroad. You will work with the Disability Center and Office of International Health, Safety and Security to navigate host country laws and program policies.

Contact with any questions about service or emotional support animals.

Additional resources

Whether you are currently being treated for a mental health condition or have experienced mental health concerns in the past, preparing for and participating in a new experience like studying abroad can bring around a return of or increase in symptoms. Factors such as changes in diet, climate, elevation or air quality, stress related to adjusting to a new culture or language, or lack of your usual support network and familiar routine can make it more challenging to manage an existing mental health condition or result in a new mental health concern.

After you are accepted to your study abroad program, share any ongoing mental or physical health concerns in the health information form in myStudyAbroad. The Office of International Health, Safety and Security will assist you in arranging continuing care abroad through your international health insurance. MU’s student international health insurance covers the cost of in-person counseling abroad and offers remote counseling sessions at no additional cost. If you are currently seeing a mental health care provider, you should talk to them about your upcoming study abroad experience. All Mizzou students are encouraged to utilize Student Health and Well-Being’s resources.

Additional resources

If you identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or queer — or if you are still exploring your identity — it’s important to reflect on how your host country/culture views gender, gender identity and sexual orientation. While many countries are very accepting, others are not. When traveling abroad, you may find different gender roles and norms that you are accustomed to. It’s possible that you may be treated differently or be expected to treat others different based on your (or their) gender identity.

Take the time to learn about the cultural norms, laws, gender roles, stereotypes, customs and appropriate dress to better understand the host culture. Think about how those differing ideas, attitudes, behaviors and laws might impact your experience abroad.

Additional resources


To support student health, safety and security, International Programs provides the AlertTraveler security software to all participants in study abroad and university-related international travel programs, as well as all faculty and staff members traveling with them. AlertTraveler provides country and city intelligence information and real-time security alerts from WorldAware, a premier provider of global security information. Specific information about AlertTraveler is available in myStudyAbroad.

AlertTraveler warning- and critical-level alerts are sent to your university email address. Additionally, you are encouraged to download and utilize the AlertTraveler app.

AlertTraveler benefits and features

  • Real-time alerts based on your itinerary and location about events that could impact health, safety, security or travel plans. Alerts are rates informational, warning or critical depending on the severity of the event.
  • Instant check-in that allows you to confirm your safety following a serious event, such as a natural disaster. Immediate response is required for any check-in requests you receive.
  • One-touch dialing for host country emergency services, U.S. embassies/consulates and the MU 24/7 emergency assistance line with the MU Police Department.
  • Country and city intelligence information on political or security conditions to enable you to make informed decisions while abroad.
  • Other useful information, including cultural factors; health advisories; travel logistics; climate and weather; communication and technology; buses, taxis and ride sharing; currency, ATMs, credit cards and tipping.