It seems that every day, we’re subjected to sensationalized news stories about international travelers who are caught in dangerous situations or shady scenarios.
It’s true- when you go abroad, cultural differences and language barriers can be problematic. But the bigger issue is that often, people who are traveling abroad are not informed, not armed with the knowledge of what to do, where to go, and how to keep oneself safe in a new place.
Everyone has their own opinion and their own stories. We hear that Mexico is not safe because our neighbor’s sister went to Tijuana on a weekend getaway and was robbed, or we learn that traveling to Nicaragua is dangerous because we saw a story on the news about a drug bust.
It’s important to talk to others who have traveled abroad, of course, but there’s one tool- arguably, our strongest one- that too often goes overlooked in the travel industry. The United States Department of State is our fiercest ally when it comes to safe and responsible travel, and at Global Leadership Adventures, we take safe travel very seriously.
The Department of State was established in 1789 as the first executive department of the US Government. It is led by our Secretary of State, and holds the reigns in the area of US foreign policy.
Their mission: To “Advance freedom for the benefit of the American people and the international community by helping to build and sustain a more democratic, secure, and prosperous world composed of well-governed states that respond to the needs of their people, reduce widespread poverty, and act responsibly within the international system.”
They are responsible for:
- Assisting American businesses in the international marketplace
- Supporting international activities and diplomatic efforts
- Keeping US Citizens in the loop when it comes to foreign policy and international relations
- Assisting and protecting Americans who are working or traveling abroad
That last responsibility is key. At Global Leadership Adventures, we’re not going to take the advice of an acquaintance or someone on Trip Advisor over the official advice of the US Department of State. We follow their guidelines, suggestions, requirements and precautions by the book, because they’re constantly monitoring conditions, political climate and safety of every country in the world.
Since we operate in developing countries, and we work exclusively with teenagers, we’re incredibly careful when it comes to pre-departure preparations and paperwork, vaccinations, and ensuring that we only bring students to volunteer in areas that are incredibly safe. We also offer additional safety measures, like having local staff that live in the area year round, 24-hour security and surveillance, and private transportation while in country. Learn more about the GLA 5-Point Safety System.
Remember to always check the Department of State website prior to booking travel to ensure the area you are traveling is secure. Their website is also the ultimate source on recommended vaccinations, required travel documentation, and ways to ensure your safety while abroad.