Alcohol and Drug Use

Substance abuse can carry significant health or legal risks for travelers. It is important to research cultural norms and attitudes along with local laws related to alcohol and drug usage in your destination(s) prior to departure.

  • Most travelers will be headed to a country in which they are of the legal drinking age according to local law. Travelers are advised to exercise good judgment if consuming alcohol while abroad.  Alcoholic content of beverages may be higher than what is served back home.  Regardless of alcoholic or non-alcoholic, all travelers should monitor any drinks ordered while abroad and not accept beverages from strangers.

    Culturally, drinking heavily may not be acceptable or could be considered culturally inappropriate. Research and be aware of customs in the country of travel.

    For students traveling on an international experience, intoxication which causes significant damage or disruption can lead to a violation of the Kennesaw State University Code of Conduct and carry significant academic and/or financial ramifications.

  • In most countries, the laws surrounding drug usage are more severe than in the United States. Penalties for relatively minor infractions, such as possession of a small amount of drugs, can be grounds for mandatory sentences or even the death penalty in some countries around the world. While abroad, travelers are subject to the host country’s laws and therefore no longer under the protection of U.S. laws or constitutional rights. The best way to protect yourself is to not use, buy or accept drugs from anyone during transit or while abroad.

    For students traveling on an international experience, the Kennesaw State University Code of Conduct has a strict zero tolerance policy for drug usage, which extends to participation on an education abroad or university-supported international travel experience.  This is regardless of the local laws in the destination country.  A violation of the Code of Conduct can carry significant academic and/or financial ramifications.

Diversity and Identity

The Office of International Safety & Security is committed to promoting safety travel experiences for all Kennesaw State University travelers. If you have specific concerns related to identity abroad, please contact Our office offers individual health and safety advising for students as well risk consults for faculty or staff travelers abroad. 

Similar to cultural norms and laws, both the perceptions of reasonable accommodations and the presence of actual accommodations vary from one country to another. Developed countries tend to be more accessible than developing countries, however standards still vary significantly.  Always be aware of what the attitudes and laws are in your host country(ies) and take appropriate steps to mitigate health, safety or security concerns during your travels.  Travelers are encouraged to research potential accessibility, issues and reasonable accommodations early in the travel planning stages.

Students on an education abroad program who anticipate or experience barriers based on a disability or who need accommodations to successfully participate in an international experience are encouraged to inform their education abroad program coordinator at their earliest opportunity.  Requests for specific housing, mobility or sensory accommodations are easier to source the earlier in the process the request is made. 


Travelers of all genders, religions, races and ethnicities can encounter different stereotypes or cultural norms while traveling abroad. It is important to research what the different standards or expectations are for socially acceptable behaviors as well as what the gender roles are in your destination. Some countries may have laws or other restrictions for individuals identifying with a specific gender. Travelers identifying as LGTBQ are encouraged to read the Office of International Safety & Security’s LGBTQ+ information.

Travelers are also encouraged to gain an understanding of any ethnic, racial or religious conflicts that may exist in your destination, and how your racial, ethnic or religious identity may be perceived in that culture.


Travelers who identify as LGBTQ+ should be cognizant that not only social norms, but also laws impacting LGBTQ+ individuals vary from one country to another. Always be aware of what the attitudes and laws are in your host country(ies) and take appropriate steps to mitigate health, safety or security concerns during your travels. 

In countries where same-sex laws are more prohibitive, be sure to avoid public displays of affection. Some countries carry severe penalties for members of the LGBTQ+ community, so practice caution with whom you disclose information in these locations in particular.  This caution extends to the use of dating apps while abroad. 

Information for Transgender Individuals

Travelers who are transitioning or who have transitioned may have additional immigration and health-related concerns.  If traveling for an extended period of time, contact CISI for information related to continuation of HRT and its availability or legality in your destination.  For information on TSA screening protocols and your rights at airport security at U.S. border crossings, please visit The National Center for Transgender Equality.


Fire and Water Safety

  • When traveling abroad, it is recommended to become quickly acquainted with the fire safety measures in place in your accommodations. During the planning phase, it is best to request a room between the second to fifth floors if feasible; these floors are harder to break into but still accessible to firefighting equipment, if available. 

    Once in your accommodations, inspect the room and determine if the windows are sealed or barred or if they can be opened from the inside and used as an emergency exit.  If a phone is available in your room, test to see if it works and know how to dial out in case of an emergency.  Also be familiar with the local equivalent for 911 – there may be a different number for each emergency service, so know what number you need to dial for fire emergencies. You can also dial the front desk staff in the event a language barrier may prevent you from communicating your emergency directly to emergency services.

    Also familiarize yourself with the presence of any fire extinguishers or emergency exits. For planning your exit from the building, determine how many doors are there between you and the exit. In the event that smoke fills the room or hallways, you may have limited visibility. Stay low to the ground to avoid smoke inhalation, which can cause significant injury or even death. Having previously identified the closest route and counting the number of doors between you and the exit in advance will better enable you to escape the building. 

    In a fire emergency, if a doorknob is hot to the touch, this is an indication that fire is present on the other side of the door. You may need to turn around and locate another exit, such as a window, or use the phone in your accommodation to notify emergency responders or the front desk of your situation and location. Should you find yourself stuck in your room during a fire emergency, fill a sink or bathtub with water and soak towels. Place them at the base of your door or other cracks to try to minimize smoke entering your room.  This can buy precious time for emergency responders to reach you.

    For more information, please see the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) report on Fire Safety Abroad.

  • Drowning is one of the leading causes of deaths of U.S. citizens abroad per the U.S. Department of State. Travelers who will be engaging in any water activities, such as water sports or visiting beaches, rivers or creeks, should be aware of the dangers which water can present.

    Stop and assess the situation prior to swimming. Particularly when entering unfamiliar bodies of water, individuals should be cognizant of their ability to swim as well as be able to recognize signs of rip currents.  What is the weather in the vicinity?  Do not swim during a storm. Check for posted cautionary signs and only swim at designated beaches with clear warning systems (e.g. flags) or lifeguards on duty, if possible. Do not consume alcohol prior to or while swimming and never swim alone.

    If you find yourself caught in a rip current, do not try to fight the current. Instead, swim parallel or at a 45-degree angle to the shore. Many swimmers succumb by fighting against the current. For more information on rip currents, please see the United States Lifesaving Association.

Hotel Safety

In selecting accommodations, opt for reputable hotels, hostels or boarding houses.

Once you have checked-in, be careful with whom you share your room information.  It is best to keep your room number to yourself or share only with your travel companions.

Upon first arriving in the room, inspect the door and window locks to confirm that they are working properly. It is best to have a door with a peephole and a dead bolt or chain lock. Always identify visitors prior to opening the door. If in doubt, call the front desk to verify if any hotel employees are delivering items to your room before you open the door.

When leaving the room for a period of time, leaving the “do not disturb” sign on your door is a good practice, whenever available. You should take care to secure all valuables and not leave sensitive documents or valuables visible in the room; instead, store these items in a secure location.  If you leave cash out in plain sight, be aware that this generally indicates to hotel staff that the money is intended as a tip.

Always know the address of your accommodations and its proximity to key landmarks.  Oftentimes you can ask for a local street map at reception and request them to mark where the hotel is for you. Not only is this convenient for navigating the area, but locating and orienting yourself to key resources such as the nearest pharmacy or hospital, police station and even the closest consulate or embassy can help you prepare for contingencies. 

Natural Disasters

Most locations in the world are susceptible to at least some form of natural disasters, if not the elements in general. By their very nature, natural disasters occur with little to no warning. It is important to research what natural disasters may occur in your destination and the steps you can take to react in the event that you find yourself impacted by or in the midst of one while traveling abroad.

If you are in an area impacted by a natural disaster, follow the directives of local media and authorities. You can obtain additional information with the local US embassy or consulate, or via STEP.

The university’s CISI supplemental international insurance has provisions for natural disaster evacuation. Contact the 24/7 KSU International Phone Line at +1-470-578-6666 for assistance in an emergency abroad.

  • Earthquakes are far more common than most people realize; in fact, they multiple earthquakes occur every day.  Some countries or cities may be more prone to earthquakes due to their proximity to major fault lines. Travelers to the Ring of Fire, a particularly active seismic region surrounding the Pacific Ocean, should be cognizant that large earthquakes are a question of when, not if. 

    If you are outside during an earthquake, move away from objects that have the potential to fall, such as streetlights, power lines or even buildings. Once you are in the open, lay on the ground, protecting your head and neck by covering them with your hands. 

    If you find yourself inside a building during an earthquake, take steps to brace yourself and protect your head. Most injuries during an earthquake itself are sustained either by a person falling, or by something falling on an individual.  If there is a sturdy table, try to accommodate as much of your body under it as you are able.  If available, place a pillow or other protective cushion over your head to protect it from potential debris.

    Arches and frames are only a good option if you can extend your reach to stabilize yourself on the frame.  Contrary to popular belief, doorways are not a good option, as doors may move or sway, posing a threat to the individual standing inside the doorframe.  Be careful going outside during and following an earthquake, as downed limbs or electrical lines pose an additional hazard.  If you smell or suspect a gas leak, leave the area immediately; fires pose an additional threat to safety following an earthquake.

    Tsunami are large ocean waves that are generated by earthquakes or landslides which occur in the ocean. If you will be traveling to a location on a beach or near a low-lying coastal area, particularly in the Ring of Fire region, be aware that a tsunami can arrive within minutes of a severe earthquake. Even if you do not feel an earthquake, if you are at the beach and notice a dramatic drop in the sea level as water quickly recedes far back into the ocean, leave and seek higher ground.

    In the event that a tsunami warning is triggered in your area, be sure to go as high and as far as you can away from the coast – ideally 100 feet above sea level or a location 2 miles inland. Stay away until local authorities advise you it is safe to return. Tsunami can continue as a series of waves for hours; do not assume that the first wave is the last wave.


  • Like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions may occur with little advanced warning; however, they do often provide warning signs weeks to months in advance. Certain areas are more prone to seismic activity than others, and many volcanoes are known to be either active or dormant.  Research your intended destination prior to departure and know the area’s risk for volcanic activity. If the risk is high, identify evacuation routes or shelters and know the appropriate steps to take in the event of a volcano warning or eruption. Even if you are not traveling to a location at direct risk of a volcanic eruption, be advised that eruptions in nearby locations may impact your travel itinerary. 

    Volcanoes have the capacity to spew ash or lava, contaminating the air, reducing visibility and contaminating water supplies. In a volcano warning, be sure to avoid the areas downstream of the eruption. Charge your electronics and be sure to keep in touch with emergency contacts as able prior to and following the event. If advised to evacuate, heed the directives early. 

    Road conditions can quickly deteriorate during periods of significant ashfall. Seek updated information on road conditions before driving or entering a vehicle. If you venture outside, carry a facemask and observe other precautions to avoid ash inhalation.

    If you must shelter in place, make sure you have access to sufficient supplies of food, potable water and necessary medicines then take steps to seal doors and windows and cover ventilation openings. Inhalation of volcanic ash can cause lung irritation; it is particularly dangerous for those with asthma or environmental sensitivities. Ashfall can also cause irritation to eyes and open wounds.


  • Hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons are essentially the same weather phenomenon; the difference in language is associated with the region or part of the world in which they occur.

    Occur in the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific Oceans. The typical active season runs from June to November.

    Tropical Cyclones:
    Occur in the South Pacific and Indian Oceans. The typical season runs from November to April.

    Occur in the Northwest Pacific Ocean. The typical active season runs from April to December.

    Travelers should be advised to take precautions for any strong storms which may occur in the destination in which they are traveling. Hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons have the potential to intensify, change their trajectory as well as carry additional considerations compared to regular storms such as high winds, storm surges, heavy rainfall, flooding, and even mudslides or tornadoes in some locations.

    By their very nature, these storms are unpredictable and therefore travelers potentially in the path of such a storm should monitor the track of the storm and make safety plans according to the advice of local media and authorities.  Those in the direct path of a hurricane, typhoon or cyclone should take precautions to remain indoors and heed local emergency advice.

    If a hurricane, typhoon or cyclone advisory has been issued for your area, make sure you have easy access to sufficient food, potable water and necessary medications to last you several days in the event of a need to shelter in place. Charge your electronics and be sure to keep in touch with emergency contacts as able prior to and following the event. Even after the storm has passed, damage to infrastructure (roads, electricity, telecommunications) poses an additional risk to individuals, and shortages of food, water or medical supplies may occur in heavily impacted regions. Downed limbs or electrical lines can pose significant hazards. Be careful when venturing outside in an impacted area following a strong storm.


  • Flooding occurs when a large amount of water over a short or long period of time inundates or saturates the ground, causing water levels to rise significantly above normal levels. This water can come from storms, sustained rainfall, or even thawing snow. Low-lying locations closer to waterways have an increased risk of flooding. 

    During a flooding event, evacuate the impacted area. If able, relocate to a designated evacuation location or shelter which is at low risk for flooding, i.e. higher ground.  If you are unable to exit a building due to high water, attempt a vertical evacuation by moving to the highest location you are able within the building.

    Be aware that road conditions may be washed out and mudslides can occur without warning during and following heavy rainfall and flooding. Do not attempt to drive during a flood event and wait until infrastructure and local road conditions have been assessed by local authorities before assuming that it is safe to drive.


Sexual Misconduct Abroad

Kennesaw State University is committed to promoting a safe environment free from sexual misconduct. The university takes seriously and reports or incidents of sexual misconduct whether on- or off-campus.

If you experience sex discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault/violence, interpersonal violence or stalking, know that you have options, rights, and there is support that is available to you even if you are traveling abroad.

If you would like to disclose a Title IX incident, please be aware that university faculty and staff are mandatory reporters and are required to make a report to the university.  To learn more about confidential vs. non-confidential vs. anonymous reporting options or to learn about what resources and support are available, please visit the site below. 



Transportation Safety

Traffic deaths are unfortunately the leading cause of fatalities for U.S. citizens abroad. Taking precautions to address pedestrian and traffic safety when planning your travel or while abroad can help mitigate the risk of serious injury.  Being aware of local regulations, traffic patterns and how weather conditions or holidays may impact travel conditions is a key step toward taking control of your safety.

  • Pedestrians should always understand the flow of traffic in any environment. In particular, know whether or not cars drive on the left or right side of the road in your destination. At home or abroad, always look both ways prior to crossing a street.

    When traveling in an unfamiliar environment, do not tune out important cues by wearing headphones while walking or entering crosswalks engaged in phones or deep conversations.  The assumption that pedestrians have the right of way and traffic will yield for pedestrians automatically is not always the case. Do not assume that traffic patterns and behaviors overseas will mimic those you are accustomed to at home.

  • Students are highly discouraged from driving during their international experience.

    Faculty and staff who intend to drive while abroad should be aware of the local laws, traffic signs as well as road conditions. Weather may not only impact visibility but can also wreak havoc on locations with poor road maintenance. Know what the local roads or areas to avoid. Be cognizant whether routes will take you through areas identified as higher risk.  Prior to driving in a foreign country, determine what the availability is for roadside assistance. Intercity travel should only occur during daylight hours, particularly in locations with poor road infrastructure and maintenance, in suboptimal weather conditions or in higher risk locations.

    In addition to poor road conditions, certain routes may need to be reconsidered or avoided in some countries for personal safety and security reasons. Always check with resources such as the U.S. Department of State country travel advisory for or Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) Crime and Safety report for your destination to verify if there are particular routes that should be avoided.

    Consider the vehicle safety as well as insurance. When selecting a rental vehicle, check for the presence of seatbelts and locks as well as assess the overall condition of the vehicle prior to and upon entering. Be sure that you have an international drivers permit or a driver’s license that is valid in the country in which you are driving, as it is illegal to drive without a valid license and insurance in most countries.  Also know the local emergency numbers and protocol for what to do in the event of an accident.  

  • Be sure to practice situational awareness and crime mitigation strategies when using public transportation, as opportunistic theft occurs worldwide and passengers utilizing public transportation or at stations or bus/taxi stops make for prime targets. Be cognizant of your belongings and take care at busy stations; in particular, beware of individuals jostling you. If traveling at night, use well-lit stations whenever possible.

    Be sure to reference the U.S. Department of State travel advisory or Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) Crime and Safety Report for your country of travel to obtain more information about routes which are particularly susceptible to opportunistic thefts or any routes to avoid, if applicable.

  • Travelers should only use taxis from a reputable company. If you have any questions about this, usually the concierge at your hotel will be able to assist. Many travelers prefer to use rideshare apps such as Uber and Lyft, but there may be legal issues or other concerns with using these services in your travel destination. Do not share a taxi with strangers while traveling abroad.

    When the taxi arrives, take note of the license plate and obtain the taxi driver’s information and also check that the driver has a photo id displayed; not only is this a good practice for your safety, but this information can be invaluable should you leave any personal belongings behind. Check the meter and agree to a fare before entering.  Have your destination written out in the local language, when applicable. If the door does not lock, sit in the middle of the seat to discourage opportunistic thieves at stops.  

    You can find more information about what taxi services to use or avoid from the U.S. Department of State or Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) Crime and Safety Report for your destination.

  • When using public transportation, attending events, or traveling out and about, it is crucial to be aware of crowd density as well as all entrances and exits. Frequently crowd surges do not become noticeably uncomfortable to those in the middle of them until it may be too late to easily extricate oneself.

    Many people automatically use only main entrances or exits to venues. If you are attempting to enter or exit a premise and notice that an overwhelming number of others are headed to the same entryway as you are, take a moment to look for alternate routes that are less crowded. It can be a helpful exercise to identify multiple exit points when you first enter a space so that you know your options should you need to quickly make use of them.

    Avoid any space or leave if you notice the crowd density appears dangerous. To ascertain the density, take a moment to determine if you have physical touch with those around you. If not, the density is under about three people per square meter. If you are unintentionally bumping against one or two people in your vicinity, the density is around four to five people per square meter. At this point, there may not be an imminent threat but you should take action to move away from the center of the congestion.

    At more than 6 people per square meter, a crowd has hit a critical threshold and one’s ability to move and act independently of the rest of the crowd is severely hampered. You may or may not be able to freely move your hands. At this point, physical contact between individuals can cause shockwaves that ripple throughout the surrounding crowd.

    Crowd crushes are often silent events. If you find yourself in the midst of heavy congestion and unable to easily extricate yourself from the situation, take appropriate steps to brace your yourself while avoiding any barriers such as walls against which you could become pinned, and shore up your balance. Calmly follow the crowd, without pushing, and take measures to protect your chest and lungs. Sturdy, flat shoes are most recommended for such situations, so it is best to wear good footwear if you know in advance that you are going someplace that may experience a large volume of people. Even if your footwear situation is less than ideal, the pressure and counterpressure of other people in the space should keep you relatively stable unless someone falls, which can quickly cause a domino effect if not addressed immediately. If someone near you falls, try to help them up without bending too far down or compromising your balance yourself.

    Loss of oxygen is the biggest threat of a crowd crush. To protect your chest and lungs, raise your arms. You can make a “T” by grabbing one arm with your opposite hand or adopt a boxer’s guard stance. Keeping your arms at chest level helps avoid having them pinned and can give you the space you need to breathe.

    If the situation is dangerous and you cannot leave, protect yourself, be kind and help others. A united crowd with individuals looking out for one another is more likely to lead to better outcomes.