Travel entails risks that can be mitigated by developing detailed travel plans in advance. Principal Investigators and travel planners should assess and address the risks associated with travel to foreign countries in advance, especially to remote areas, in order to ensure the health and safety of participating faculty, staff, and students.
This webpage identifies Resources that can be used by departments to help with planning and organizing travel to foreign countries. It also provides a section on Planning Tools & Tips that describe specific things travel planners can do to reduce the risks of travel.
UC Global Operations (UCGO)
The UCOP UC Global Operations website provides tools and resources to help UC faculty, administrators, staff and students who are traveling abroad on UC business, or assisting those who are, to plan and manage international research, travel, and other activities. Whether you are doing research, teaching, studying abroad, or attending a conference, the UCGO website can help you:
- Plan Project: Resources about where to go, UC programs, planning your budget, understanding U.S. and foreign regulations, applicable UC policies, etc.
- Plan Trip: Information about vaccinations, health and travel insurance, cultural etiquette in the country you’re visiting, visa requirements, exchange rates for foreign currency, tips on what to pack, etc.
- Travel Safely: Guidelines on how to stay safe and healthy, what to do if you are sick or injured, how to stay connected, what adapters to get for your electronic devices, etc.
- Manage Projects Abroad: Fundamental steps and strategies for successful project management abroad, including setting up operations, collaboration with international partners, and taking care of yourself and your team while abroad.
- Closeout Projects Upon Return: A post-travel checklist, information about how to get reimbursed for eligible expenses, close out your project, etc.
- Locate Assistance in UC System: Information about UC offices that can assist with specific concerns with quick links to UCOP and campus international offices. A search function to help you find what you’re looking for.
The UCGO website is a joint effort of the UC Office of the President’s Office of Ethics, Compliance, and Audit Services and the Office of Research Policy Analysis and Coordination. Contact email@example.com with questions or for information.
The University contracts with Crisis24 to provide travelers with real-time intelligence and alerts. The University asks employees who are traveling out-of-state and internationally to register their travel, so they will receive real-time intelligence, notices, and alerts via email about political unrest, natural disasters, and health warnings affecting the areas where the travelers will be. Travelers can also access critical information about required immunizations, entry/exit, safety and security, language, transportation, weather, communications, legal and cultural issues, and currency exchange rates through Crisis24's Worldcue system. This is a valuable resource when traveling in countries where information is tightly controlled and it can help employees avoid difficulties during a trip. For more information about travel registration, go to Travel Insurance.
The University provides Travel Accident Insurance, free of charge, to faculty, staff, and students participating in University activities that take place 100+ miles from campus,* including travel to and from the activity. The employee leading the field trip should register the travel through UC Away to facilitate the Risk Manager's ability to make contact if a natural disaster or another emergency occurs in the field trip vicinity. They can enroll all participating faculty, staff, and students in the Travel Insurance Program or can, in some cases, ask individuals to enroll individually. In addition to the standard travel insurance medical/accident medical expense coverage, this policy includes coverage for emergency medical evacuation, repatriation of remains, security extraction, and other travel assistance and benefits. Go to Travel Insurance for more information about UC Travel Insurance.
*The travel insurance policy covers some categories of participants when participating in specific on-campus activities. Contact the Risk Management office for more information.
Foreign Travel Risk Assessment
The travel planning process should include the identification of potential health and security risks involved in travel to foreign countries, the measures that can be taken to avoid them, and advance planning on how to respond to emergencies if and when they occur. Go to the Foreign Travel Risk Assessment section for more information.
Traveling with Minors
Traveling with minors entails an extra level of risk that must be addressed accordingly. For information about issues attendant to the participation of minors in University activities, go to Minors.
Travel Planning Checklists
Standardized travel-planning checklists can provide travel planners with a list of things that should be considered during the planning process. A checklist might include the following:
- Goals & objectives
- Known risks; means of addressing them
- Information about local health, weather, cultural standards, social conditions, local traditions and beliefs
- Emergency response plan; emergency contacts
- Composition of field team in field research activities; emergency contact information
- Accommodations during travel to and from site and on-site
- Need for first-aid supplies and expertise
- Medical needs of travelers with pre-existing conditions
- Clothing, personal equipment, and field equipment
- Transportation before, during, and after returning from the event location
- Food and supplies on-site and during travel to and from the site
- Mandatory safety training in specific areas of risk applicable to the event as appropriate
- Necessary University forms
- Required documents for individual travelers: passports, visas, vaccinations, etc.
- State Department Alerts or Warnings
Examples include the State Department Checklist, which, in addition to providing a generic list of concerns that apply to travel to any location, also provides the means to link to information about your specific destination. The Medical Preparation When Studying Abroad Checklist provides detailed information about how to be medically prepared for travel abroad. Examples of travel planning checklists can be found from UC Davis and the State Department. The Field Research Safety Program may also be helpful to UCSB travel planners.
If a department sponsors activities that include student travel to foreign countries, a Participant Agreement can be used to spell out the obligations of the University and the traveler and specify the terms and conditions of participation: program description, fees, cost of and information about transportation, food and lodging, scheduling, modification and termination of the agreement, standards of conduct, health and safety, insurance, mandatory activities, and any other requirements or critical information. Examples of Participant Agreements can be found from EAP and UCSB.
Participant Travel Guide
Departments that organize travel study programs abroad can prepare student guides that include information about the specific program and course of study as well as issues of general concern - travel arrangements, insurance, duties and customs, and cultural issues. This information can better prepare the participant and help maximize the learning experience and minimize unanticipated surprises. See this example of a student guide.
Prior to departure it may be useful to conduct an orientation meeting with attendance required for all participants. Review administrative matters and important information: contacts and addresses, including consulate contacts, clothing, transportation, lodging, local customs, money, personal health and safety, required documents, use of credit, telephones, communications, medical issues, required vaccinations, etc. Provide information specific to living in the destination country. Provide materials such as maps, practical living information, guidebooks and handbooks, links to relevant websites, including the State Department website. Provide information about the University’s travel insurance security and information service, Worldcue. Prepare and present an emergency preparedness plan. See this example of an emergency preparedness plan for off-campus study. See the Foreign Travel Risk Assessment section for more information on emergency planning.
Waiver of Liability
All individuals (with the exception of employees in the course and scope of their employment) who participate in University of California sponsored off-campus travel, classes, programs and activities must sign a UC Waiver of Liability-Elective/Voluntary Activities. Departments that sponsor activities that involve off-campus travel are responsible for preparing the waiver and making certain that all participants sign and submit one before participating in the activity. For more information about waivers of liability, go to Waiver of Liability.
Emergency Information and Contacts
Departments can ask participants to provide information on the Emergency Information & Contacts form about who should be contacted in the event of an emergency and who their insurance carrier is.
The form also offers the participant the opportunity to advise the trip organizers of any allergies, dietary restrictions, or other conditions they have and any medications they may be required to take. It is important to review this information and to understand what, if anything, it will require of the employees leading the activity. If travel is to remote areas where certain vaccinations or immunizations are advisable, departments can ask the participant to show proof that they have gotten them. All this information is confidential and should only be shared with people who have a need to know.
The employee leading the trip should take the Emergency Information & Contacts form with them in case a participant is injured. If the completed Emergency Information & Contacts form is not needed, the campus department should destroy it when the trip is over. If the completed Emergency Information & Contacts form is used for one reason or another, it should be retained for three years after the trip is over. If the department has had to rely on the form, the hard copy must be retained.
Release & License to Use Image
Prior to making any public use of a participant’s image, departments must obtain a signed Release & License to Use Image, Name and/or Voice form from the participant. Go to Releases for more information.
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