Skip to content

Food, Road, and Water Safety


Enjoying local food is a major benefit of being abroad. However, food poisoning poses a danger to student health. In many contexts, it is a good idea to do the following:
  • Pass on street food and generally avoid buffet dining.
  • Wash any fruit and vegetables you eat, and order well-cooked food.
  • Avoid tap water and ice made from tap water, in some locations.
Make sure to rest and rehydrate if you are affected by food poisoning. Traveler’s diarrhea impacts about 80% of those abroad. Seek medical treatment if your case is serious.

If you have food allergies or specific dietary preferences, know how to communicate your needs wherever you receive food. If you are in a non-English speaking country, you may need to create a list of foreign words, so you know what to say and what to look for.


Car and transportation accidents are the number one cause of incident or death to travelers in foreign countries. UW-Stout discourages you from renting or driving vehicles while abroad.

In some cities, it can be dangerous to hail cabs off the street. Learn about safer forms of transportation by talking to local friends and program support staff for guidance. In some locations, unofficial cabs may be working alongside thieves to later rob their passengers or take them to an ATM to forcefully withdraw cash.

Additional tips for safe riding include the following: ­
  • Avoid traveling late at night or riding with a driver who appears intoxicated.
  • Always ride in the back seat of a taxicab, behind the driver. Do not allow the driver to pick up other passengers off the street.
  • Wear seat belts whenever possible.
  • Keep car doors locked and windows closed, especially at traffic lights.


When swimming, know your limits, and know the water. Areas that are unsafe or have dangerous currents may not always be clearly posted.  Remember that river and ocean currents have the potential to be swift and dangerous, which may be difficult for individuals from non-coastal areas to recognize.

Additional suggestions for swimming include the following:
  • Swim at designated beaches with clear warning systems for water hazards.
  • Talk with someone local about swimming conditions if you are unsure.
  • Never swim alone or while drinking.
  • Avoid leaving valuables on the beach.
  • Do not dive headfirst into an unfamiliar body of water.
  • Choose boating options with caution and only travel with a reputable provider.
  • Wear a life jacket. 
If you are traveling to a place where travel by boat is common and/or you plan to travel by boat, be aware that availability and quality of life jackets and other water safety equipment is often not the same as required by law and is common in the United States. Consider traveling with your own life jacket.