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Trip Planning Checklist

Health, Safety and Emergency Planning Checklist

International Insurance Requirement

  • All NU students must have GeoBlue medical insurance or an approved substitute (study abroad programs only). Read GeoBlue for Students for more information. Before enrolling:
    • Check that your sponsor/trip leader has not already purchased your plan.
    • Book your flights—your coverage dates should be your arrival and departure dates.
  • The cost is less than $13 per week, payable by credit card -- enroll here. After enrolling, print the personal certificate document and keep it with you while abroad.
  • Download the GeoBlue Mobile App before you travel.
  • Remote Care Services connect students with a doctor or therapist by phone or video call.
Current Health Conditions & Medications
  • If you are currently taking a prescription medication, learn about researching the availability of certain medications in your destination and obtaining sufficient quantities to take with you at Traveling with medications.
  • Students with disabilities and/or chronic conditions should disclose travel to AccessibleNU

Country-Specific Health Information


Non-emergency Medical & Mental Health Needs Abroad

  • Call or email GeoBlue to schedule an appointment that will offer direct billing with a physician who speaks English. If you do not use GeoBlue to find a physician, you will pay out-of-pocket, but can submit receipts for reimbursement.
  • It is not uncommon for students to experience emotional distress while abroad, perhaps even for the first time. Visit OGSS's mental health page. Remember, our GeoBlue plan covers the cost of counseling abroad and offers remote care services.

Medical Emergencies

  1. Go to the nearest treating facility; before you travel, look up the 911 Abroad equivalent for your destination documented by the U.S. Department of State
  2. Call GeoBlue at (610) 254-8771
  3. Call your on-site contact, trip leader or the NUPD at (847) 491-3456

Sexual Health and Misconduct

Alcohol Safety

  • Be aware of potential interactions between alcohol and drugs. Consider how alcohol is consumed in the local culture -- ask trusted local residents for advice. Understand that certain drinking behaviors may identify you as an outsider, making you a target for crime. If you choose to drink while abroad, do so with a trusted “buddy” – there’s safety in numbers.

Risk Management

  • Think about what dangers and cultural differences you will face abroad, and consider steps you can take to reduce exposure, such as reviewing the U.S. Department of State (DOS) Travel Advisory and country information for your destination. Also enroll in the DOS’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
  • AlertTraveler (AT) is a subscription service that students can access for free (message and data rates may apply) by downloading the AlertTraveler app for iOS and Android devices. AT utilizes GPS and itineraries stored in the Northwestern Travel Registry to provide travelers with country and city intelligence, safety and security alerts, and an instant check-in option. Check-in requests will only be issued during a serious emergency; students may also respond to the check-in requests by email or phone. AT will stop sending messages shortly after your return date.

Road, Water and Fire Safety

  • ASIRT provides information about road conditions to make safe transportation choices.
  • Swim with care. Choose safe beaches, plan for emergencies and do not consume alcohol.
  • Locate/test fire escapes, smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in your residence. For more advice, see Fire Safety.

Make an Emergency Action Plan

  • Consider real and perceived emergencies that may happen in your location. Know how to seek safety and how to contact help.
  • When you are safe after an emergency, report your status to Northwestern, your program provider, your supervisor, family, and friends. See Risk Management above to learn about using the AlertTraveler app to respond to a check-in request from Northwestern.

Tips for International Students

Crime and Threat Deterrence

  • Clean out your wallet, backpack, and/or handbag before you leave. Make photocopies of the credit, debit, and/or ATM cards you take, as well as your passport and visa.
    • Leave one copy at home.
    • Seal another copy in an envelope and place it in a secure location in your luggage.
  • If you become the victim of a crime, seek safety, assess and report the crime, cancel and replace credit/debit cards, and follow instructions to replace a lost U.S. passport.
  • Consider whether or not terrorism is a concern for your location; learn how to minimize your exposure and increase safety when attending large public events or visiting popular tourist sites.

Make a Communication Plan

  • Agree on communication protocols with your sponsor, trip leader and your friends/family (phone, text, email, Facebook, etc.). Be mindful of social media posts that could unnecessarily alarm friends and family. Keep an easily accessible, written record of contact information for local medical/emergency contacts, NU emergency contacts, local law enforcement, your host, other travelers, and any other relevant NU contacts.

Questions? Contact Northwestern’s Office of Global Safety and Security (847) 467-3899 or email us at