Every student going abroad anticipates having an enriching experience in another country. They should also have a plan in place if suddenly their lives are at risk.

On the evening of Nov. 13, the world was horrified when shootings and bombings terrorized Paris, France resulting in the deaths of at least 129 people and the injury of countless others. Nohemi Gonzales, a 23-year old California State University, Long Beach student was killed in the Paris attacks.  

Fear struck close to home with Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera. Rivera’s daughter, 21-year-old Simone, was in a nearby soccer stadium when the chaos began in the Bataclan concert hall. Rivera had spoken to his daughter minutes before he was interviewed by Fox, he was still visibly shaken. “Her phone’s not working, it’s a mess,” he said. Fortunately, Simone had managed to get clear of the conflict safely.  Rivera’s teared up as he attempted to get through the interview. “You can imagine what it was like for us as parents, waiting for her to communicate with us,” he said.

The soccer stadium where Simone and her friends had been when the attack began could seat 80,000 people. It was close to capacity. Countless families were in Rivera’s exact position as the minutes ticked by, waiting to hear from their loved ones in the midst of panic.

Catastrophe strikes quickly. It leaves little time to think and even less time to act. It is hard to imagine the danger, the fear, the tragedy unfolding in just a few hours. These nightmare scenes are the last thing a parent, or student, wants to imagine. It is exactly what they need to be prepared for. Traveling students need to know what to do in case of emergency. Families need a plan in case the worst happens.

Our travel safety courses are dedicated to making sure every youth and student departs smart and their parents are prepared to act if their child needs them in a foreign country.

  1. Every traveler should enroll in the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (S.T.E.P.) for up to date country specific information on your health and safety.
  2. Tragically, many parents do not have passports, powers of attorney, insurance or funds to get their child home. It can cost upwards of $50,000.
  3. Travel Insurance should include evacuation for medical, illness, civil unrest and natural disaster. Read the fine print.

The State Department lists American based travel and insurance companies for consideration. Insure My Trip is a good tool to get quotes from multiple travel insurance providers allowing you to preselect destination specific and criteria such as evacuation, accidental death, trip interruption, lost baggage and more – by age, with ratings.  Always read the fine print. Evacuation insurance may not include natural disaster or civil unrest, choose carefully.

Depart Smart advocates for transparency in student travel and provides awareness, tools and resources to save lives and protect students abroad.