Winter travel tips: Have fun and stay safe

Congrats on finishing your final exams! Now it’s Christmas break and time to travel! We want you to have fun, but we also want you to stay safe. Here are some tips on how to stay safe while you travel:

  • In case of a medical emergency, crime or fire, dial 911 immediately.  Make sure you can tell the person who answers what is happening and where you are.
  • Don’t leave your belongings unattended.
  • Know the forecast for your destination, parts of the US can get very cold. Dress in layers (for example: a short sleeve shirt under a long sleeve shirt under a sweater under a jacket).
  • Expect airport delays and/or cancellations. Travel with snacks, money for food, and a charged cell phone.
  • Use online check-in to save time and hassle. Most airlines will allow you to check in 24-hours in advance and print your boarding cards. If you are not checking a bag, you can go straight to security rather than waiting in the the check-in line.
  • Arrive at the airport with plenty of time to check-in and go through security (this can often take longer than you think).
  • Know your carry-on limits (eg: only travel-sized liquids in a Ziploc bag, take your shoes off through security, remove laptops from your carry-on, don’t wrap presents if you are carrying them on). For the latest carry-on regulations, go to
  • If you are checking a bag, carry on your valuables, medicines, a change of clothes, snacks, in case your luggage is lost.
  • Plan your transportation to the airport as early as possible, if you are using a shuttle service, make reservations ahead of time. If you are using public transportation, make sure it is running on the day/time you need it.
  • Place your name and address on a tag for each bag in case you get separated from your luggage.
  • If you have a camera bag, purse, or bag you are carrying with you while sightseeing, put your contact information inside so it can be returned in case you lose it.
  • If you rent a car, you must follow all state and federal laws and MUST purchase accident and liability insurance. You will be responsible for any costs associated with an accident if you are at fault. You CANNOT drive a rental car unless you have a driver’s license that is valid in the United States. NWCCI strongly advises that program participants avoid driving while in the United States.
  • Carry a photocopy of your passport in a separate place from your passport as it will make it easier to replace in case it is lost or stolen. Consider scanning your travel documents so you have a digital copy.
  • If you have an alternative ID (like your WA ID card) besides your passport, make sure you carry it in a separate place than your passport.
  • It is a good idea to carry some emergency cash in a separate place than your wallet in case it is lost or stolen.
  • Don’t leave your things unattended or with a stranger, particularly at airports and terminals. If you are staying in a hostel, do not leave valuables in your room when you gone as other people may have access to your luggage. If you are staying at a hotel, put your passport, credit cards and cash into the hotel safe.
  • Make sure you have your medical insurance information with you when you travel in case you get sick or have an accident.
  • If you are wearing a backpack, try to keep the zippered sections locked together with a small padlock you can buy at Walgreens. Don’t put valuables in the outside pockets.
  • The best way to stay safe is to be alert to your surroundings and pay attention to what is going on around you.
  • Make sure to keep your cell phones fully charged.  If there is an emergency, this is how we will get in touch with you. If you lose power somewhere, you won’t need to worry about making a phone call (you can even download a flashlight app if you have a smartphone)
  • Whenever possible, avoid walking alone after dark. If you have to walk by yourself, stick to well-lit areas.
  • If you are traveling alone, you don’t need to let others know you are alone.
  • People in the United States are generally friendly.  If you need directions or have a question, go into a store or hotel and ask for help.  However, never get into a car or follow a stranger to his or her home.
  • If you are sight-seeing with your friends, designate meeting places when visiting attractions where you will gather at a certain time in case you get lost or can’t find each other.
  • If you have a life threatening accident or illness, call 911. Please let your advisor know as soon as possible if you have had any major medical emergencies or have had to stay overnight in the hospital.
  • If you are traveling and have any changes in itinerary (where you are staying and when), please email Amanda at and Charlotte at in addition to contacting your advisor. For the advice specific to your campus about who to contact in case of emergency, please refer to the information provided by your advisor.

The NWCCI program is part of the Community College Initiative, an exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

One thought on “Winter travel tips: Have fun and stay safe

  1. Pingback: Emmanuel: Gaining self-awareness through travel | Northwest Community College Initiative

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