Ensuring safe travel for students

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Global travel insurance provider AIG Travel has announced the launch of its Student Travel Safety Initiative, which includes a microsite, webcast and social media outreach to help boost awareness of student travel safety considerations and help students journey safely and confidently anywhere in the world.

AIG noted that, according to the Institute of International Education, between 2016 and 2017, more than 332,000 American students studied abroad for academic credit – at 2.3 per cent more than the previous year, this number marks a 37.6-per-cent rise in 10 years. As such, the resources put forward by AIG offer practical advice, actionable tips and helpful resources for students and their parents, as well as study-abroad organisations, universities and other key stakeholders.

“Domestic and international travel, for both educational and leisure opportunities, are popular among students of all ages, but given the increased risks they face while traveling, more can be done to enhance their safety and wellbeing,” said Jeff Rutledge, CEO, AIG Travel. “Whether students are venturing off for an international field trip, a study abroad programme, sports tournament, volunteer mission, vacation with friends or other purpose, a comprehensive safety and preparation plan can mitigate risk and help ensure they enjoy travel and the valuable experiences it can bring.”

AIG reasoned that students on lower budgets are more likely to make compromises when it comes to accommodation and transportation; they may stay in less expensive hotels, hostels, home-share rentals or campus dorms, sometimes with people they’ve only recently met. Student travellers also often rely on walking, biking, using scooters or public transportation like trains, buses, ride-sharing services and university-provided vans and shuttles. In addition, AIG argued that students are more likely to be adventurous, and will immerse themselves in local culture, engage in nightlife activities and spend more time at destinations. All of these actions ‘expose students to greater safety, security, health and even cultural and legal risks’, and as such, AIG Travel’s Student Travel Safety microsite aims to be an integral tool for ensuring students’ (and indeed all travellers’) safety and wellbeing whilst abroad.

“One of the greatest tools that student travelers and those who are responsible for their care have is the opportunity to research destinations, areas to avoid, local health concerns, laws and cultural issues,” Rutledge said. “It’s vital to understand whether any prescription medication that may be needed is allowed, how to pack it, how to call internationally and locally within the destination, how to ask for help in the local language, how any applicable travel or health insurance is designed to work, the financial and other requirements that local hospitals may impose if treatment or admission becomes necessary, and so on.”