Based on our experience, we have developed the following policies and guidelines to ensure that students are safe and secure throughout the program. Upon arrival, the Field Director will review safety precautions specific to your program. However, it’s critical that students understand these rules in advance and behave accordingly while abroad. With cooperation and considerate behavior from each and every traveler, the program is sure to be a safe and memorable one.
Nothing can replace old-fashioned common sense when it comes to being safe while traveling. Students should travel with the contact information for each hotel on the itinerary. This information is located on the final itinerary, which travelers can access approximately three weeks before their program on their personal website. Students should also bring the Pocket Guide to Expert Travel ("The Oyster"), included in the Group Leader’s Departure Kit, which provides instructions on how to dial emergency numbers in the countries they’re visiting.
We advise travelers to leave the expensive clothes and jewelry at home, to always travel in a group, to choose well-lit streets and to be aware of their surroundings and other people at all times. Valuables should never be left behind in the hotel (unless locked in a safe) or on a bus seat (they should be stored by the driver in the locked luggage compartment under the bus). Personal belongings should always be kept within sight. Also, popular tourist areas attract pickpockets. We recommend that travelers keep money in travel pouches that can be worn under clothes.
Before going out, travelers should be sure to stay in groups and to let other members of the program group know where they are going. As a best practice, travelers are encouraged to bring a hotel business card so that they always know where to come back to.
Students should travel with the contact information for each hotel on the itinerary. This information is located on their itinerary, which travelers can access approximately three weeks before their program on their personal website. Travelers and parents also have access to EF’s 24-hour emergency phone numbers. Parents can call 800-873-2250 from the U.S., while travelers can make a collect call to 001-617-619-2913 while abroad.
Please be aware that every person in a hotel room may not have a room key. When students receive their room assignment, they should designate a key holder or plan to leave their key at the reception desk when they are not in their room. Remember that their hotel door should remain locked at all times, both when they leave the room and when they are inside. Because the type of fire safety systems provided will vary between hotels, travelers should read the fire safety instructions in their hotel room and be sure to know where the nearest fire exits are located. Some hotel rooms may not have phones, so travelers should know where they can find their Group Leader and Field Director at all times. The Field Director will review safety policies while abroad, and it’s important that all travelers pay close attention.
Traffic and transportation safety
Travelers should keep in mind that traffic patterns and behaviors can be very different abroad than at home. Cars might drive on the opposite side of the road, so travelers should always look both ways before crossing the street. Don’t forget to look right! Travelers should pay special attention at intersections, use pedestrian crosswalks whenever possible and always wear a seatbelt on buses if available. In many cities there are hourly bicycle rentals readily available. Travelers should not partake in these rentals since helmets are not provided and they are not part of an organized, guided bike tour.
Hitchhiking and the driving or renting of any motor vehicle is strictly forbidden for all travelers.
Travelers may have the opportunity to swim in an ocean, a lake, a river or a hotel pool. In most cases, there may not be a lifeguard on duty. Swimming will only be allowed in EF-designated areas and with the permission and knowledge of the Group Leader. If there is any question about the conditions or safety in the area, they should stay out of the water. If students decide to swim at any point, they should be sure to swim with a group of friends and to follow all swimming area rules.
Free time activities
Some programs may include some free time. However, this does not necessarily mean that students are free to do whatever they like without restriction. Travelers should always stay with others and not go anywhere alone. The Group Leader is responsible for supervision of the group at all times. EF only allows travelers to participate in EF-sanctioned optional excursions or other EF-approved activities suggested by the Field Director. Please note that the Global Travel Protection Plan does not cover activities that are not sanctioned by EF.
Alcohol & smoking
Travelers that choose to drink alcohol should do so responsibly and only in countries where they are of legal drinking age. Beer and wine can be stronger abroad and alcohol affects people differently. Travelers should always be responsible and stay in total control.
EF does not allow travelers under the age of 18 to consume alcohol while abroad. The Group Leader might wish to prohibit alcohol consumption by all travelers, regardless of age, and if so they will ask travelers to sign a Policy for Prohibiting Alcohol Form. Excessive drinking or consumption of hard liquor by anyone in the group will result in disciplinary action, including immediate dismissal from the program at the traveler’s expense.
Smoking is not allowed on buses, during meals, in hotel rooms or in any other shared or enclosed space.
Travelers are responsible for taking any medications they need, as well as for having enough for the full duration of the program. In the event of a serious medical issue or one that requires specific attention, the Field Director and Group Leader should be notified prior to the program in case of an emergency.