Indispensable tips to share with your Study Abroad Students

Detective Kevin Coffey, Los Angeles Police Department (Ret.), reveals life-saving tips for any unexpected emergency overseas.



After the van attacks in Barcelona on August 17th, the prospect of traveling in Europe feels dangerous to many in the U.S. Given the similar attacks we’ve seen in Berlin and London over the past year, it seems impossible to predict where one of these attacks may happen next. However, travelers and study abroad students cannot let fear control their lives. That’s why preparing for the worst case scenario can lead to the best case scenario, no matter what travelers confront overseas.


Have you seen Detective Kevin Coffey, Los Angeles Police Department (Ret.), speak on CNN yet? He unloaded some key information that could make a true difference in your students’ safety preparation for studying abroad.



Here are some of Detective Coffey’s top tips to be prepared for anything abroad.

Share with students to help increase their preparedness.


  1. Come up with a travel emergency plan. Who will assist your students if they become incapacitated – even in something as minor as a traffic accident? Do they have access to their medical records & insurance plans, and do they know how to provide that information to medical providers overseas? Tell students to designate a helper back in the US – perhaps a family member or friend – who can provide this information to medical providers in an emergency.
  2. Know what medical insurance covers. Most domestic insurance plans don’t cover incidents that happen overseas, so students must rely on travel insurance. Do students know who provides their travel insurance? Do they know who to contact when they file a claim? Make sure students have all insurance contacts and policy information saved to their phone.
  3. Have a back-up plan if a phone is lost or stolen. Have students back up all emergency contacts on a computer or in the cloud before they travel overseas. This information should be easy to access without the use of a phone and easily downloaded onto a new phone, should a replacement be necessary. 
  4. Stay alert! Tell students to keep their ears open for changes in the sounds of traffic. Face towards traffic while walking on sidewalks so any threatening situations can be noticed right away. When walking on large sidewalks, don’t walk in the middle; stay towards the edges so you can jump out of the way or into storefronts if coverage is needed.


Most importantly, don’t be afraid to discuss safety preparation with students.


As Detective Coffey states, it’s better to prepare students for the worst case scenario than to avoid frightening them. Student need to know how to confront an emergency and who they can contact, allowing them to spring into action at the drop of a hat. Doing so can only improve students safety while overseas.



About Detective Coffey – Education Abroad Travel Risk Trainer


Kevin Coffey, a retired detective with the LAPD, is an expert in crimes committed against travelers. Featured on ABC’s 20/20, the Travel Channel, and Oprah, he conducts in-depth “street smart” travel seminars to help travelers better prepare for avoiding and responding to travel mishaps. For more information about Detective Coffey’s pre-departure presentations for education abroad programs, visit




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