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Need to know / J1

J1 travel safety advice for this summer

Safe travels = happy travels. Team talk from the USIT crew on staying safe on the road.

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We pulled these tips together for our J1-ers, but the same travel safety advice applies for all destinations and programs. If you're travelling, you should be reading!

As you head off on your work abroad program, it's crucial to prioritise your safety while embracing the independence that comes with travelling to a new country. For many of you, this may be your first time venturing far from home, and with that comes the responsibility of making your own decisions. Here's how to navigate this exciting journey with wisdom, caution AND a sense of adventure!

Research and responsibility

DO

  • Take the time to research the town or city you'll be living in. Learn which areas are safe to walk, know when public transport stops running, and make sure you have apps such as Uber and Lyft downloaded so that you can call a ride at night.
  • Understand which neighbourhoods are best to live in and which ones are best to avoid. Utilise online resources such as blogs and Facebook Groups for expats, and take advice from locals who you work with.
  • Recognise that you are now solely responsible for the decisions you make. Approach each choice with maturity and consideration, knowing that your actions shape your experience abroad.
  • Know the emergency number to call for help, e.g. 911 if you’re in the USA. And while you’re at it, always make sure your phone is charged before you go out or you have a power pack to hand.
  • Make sure you’re familiar with any changes in local laws and customs to ensure your behaviour is respectful and law-abiding.

CHECK OUT

Protect yourself and your belongings

DO

  • Keep your smartphone discreet while walking around. It’s always best to use apps like Citymapper or Google Maps to make sure you don’t get lost, but while doing so - keep your phone in your bag until you need to look for directions. Or wear cheap non-noise cancelling in-ear headphones to navigate your way around so that you can keep your phone safely tucked away out of sight.
  • Likewise, when waiting for your Lyft or Uber, don’t stand in the street with your phone out looking for the licence plate number. Stand in the foyer or entranceway of the restaurant or bar you’re leaving.
  • Refrain from carrying large sums of cash. Opt for debit or credit cards instead and familiarise yourself with the process to cancel your cards. Or opt for a travel-friendly card such as Revolut or Monzo, where you can add cash as you need it so that all your savings aren’t in one place and where you can easily freeze your card on the app should you need to.
  • Don’t keep your debit or credit card in the same case as your phone. If you lose your phone or something happens to it, you’ve also lost your ability to pay for transport to get home.
  • Keep a record of all emergency contact numbers outside of your smartphone.
  • Get a bum bag (or fanny pack if we’re going to be all American about it). These former crimes of fashion can be super helpful in stopping petty crime. They’re the perfect size to wear across your body to keep your wallet, phone and keys safe.

REMEMBER

  • If you’re ever in a situation where your safety is threatened, give up your belongings immediately. They can be replaced. You cannot.
  • If you’re feeling iffy about a situation, it’s usually for a reason. Whatever the cost, book a cab to get home safely. You can always make more money– it's harder to undo memories of a bad experience.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

USIT Staff

Our content is shaped by our community. If you also have a way with words and a travel tale to tell, DM us about writing for USIT.

"Buy a bum bag! These former crimes of fashion can be super helpful in stopping petty crime."

Stay together to stay safe

  • Stick together with your friends or colleagues, especially when exploring unfamiliar areas or attending social events.
  • Avoid leaving friends alone, and don't allow yourself to get separated from the group. Plan your outings and transportation in advance to minimise the risk of getting lost or stranded.
  • Trust your instincts. If a situation feels uncomfortable or unsafe, don't hesitate to remove yourself and seek assistance from local authorities or trusted individuals.

REMEMBER

  • Captain Sensible is not the same as the Fun Police! When we travel, we’re usually buzzing. Everything is new and exciting – and as travellers, we often feel invincible. Make the most of every opportunity, but just keep that little Captain Sensible voice on in the background!

Think ahead and think wisely

DO

  • Take the time to carefully consider your options before making any decisions. Whether it's choosing your transport, selecting a place to eat, or deciding which attractions to visit - weigh the pros and cons and assess the potential risks involved.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Stay informed about any safety risks or potential hazards in the areas you'll be visiting.
  • Use common sense to guide your actions. Avoid risky behaviours or situations that could jeopardise your safety or well-being.

And finally... While safety is paramount, don't forget to embrace the adventure and enjoy your time in the USA. Immerse yourself in the culture, explore iconic landmarks, and make lifelong memories. By thinking carefully, assessing risks appropriately and acting with common sense and caution - you can navigate your first travel experience in the USA with confidence and ease.

Have a great trip! Love, the USIT team x

USIT Staff Blog Image.png

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

USIT Staff

Our content is shaped by our community. If you also have a way with words and a travel tale to tell, DM us about writing for USIT.

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