Columbia University

Global Travel

Research Your Destination and Prepare

All persons participating in Columbia travel need to closely review information, alerts and warnings, and other guidance maintained by the U.S. Department of State, ISOS, health authorities, and other governmental and non-governmental entities.

International SOS (ISOS) offers a country-specific research tool that can help you to prepare for your trip. Go to the Columbia ISOS Global Assistance page and locate the research tool in the upper left corner. Travelers and travel coordinators may also consult directly with ISOS about specific concerns. See below for more details.

Take close care for countries or specific regions where a U.S. Department of State Travel Warning or Travel Alert has been issued. Discuss your questions and concerns about any planned travel with faculty and senior staff, up to and including the Dean of the School or senior executive leadership, as needed.

Depending on the destination, there are certain plans that you can prepare ahead of travel to ensure that you are best taking advantage of the resources available through Columbia.

Each Columbia traveler is responsible for identifying safety and security threats for their destination(s) and taking action to reduce harm and risk to him/herself, his/her colleagues, University property, and the people and institutions with whom Columbia collaborates. This includes raising concerns within your schools and departments in advance of travel, and discussing and implementing ways to mitigate potential risk. If sufficient measures cannot be taken to mitigate potential serious risk, it may be appropriate to explore rescheduling, postponing, or cancelling the planned travel.

Factors to be considered in the assessment of risk could include, but are not limited to:

  • Location and contact information for closest Columbia Global Center or other programs
  • Local health concerns and healthcare resources
  • Crime
  • Local weather
  • Local travel
  • Road conditions and public transportation
  • Availability and quality of local accommodations
  • Cultural and legal differences
  • Political climate
  • Economic conditions
  • Holidays or election days
  • Location of the nearest U.S. embassy or your home country’s embassy

Use the Travel Emergency Assistance Services provider (ISOS) to prepare further:

  • Travelers and travel coordinators are encouraged to consult directly with Columbia's Travel Emergency Assistance provider (currently ISOS) to provide more tailored security advice regarding their itineraries.
  • For itinerary review, please email using the attached ISOS Itinerary Review and Pre-travel Security BriefIf the advice being requested is only medical, please email
  • To speak with an ISOS representative directly, please dial (215) 942-8478
  • During the call or on the email message, indicate that you are coordinating a trip for Columbia University (Membership Number: 11BSGC000064) and need tailored security and/or medical advice for the proposed itinerary. Include the itinerary and as much detail as possible regarding the traveler or traveling group. Please copy on your email communications.

Once advice is received, a risk mitigation plan should be developed for the trip that clearly describes measures taken to address the recommendations from ISOS. This plan should be attached when seeking travel authorization(s).

Other Helpful Resources for Assessing Risks:

Your best resource for research could be the group leader or trip organizers and Columbia staff at your travel destination. Start by thoroughly reviewing information included in the Alerts section. Additionally, the following sites can be helpful:

You should also consider consulting a variety of news sources before and during the period of travel. These include the websites of newspapers and television networks of the destination city and country, but also the websites of such international news outlets as The New York Times, The Guardian, and the BBC. Google Alerts and other RSS feeds can also help keep you informed.

Once you research your destination and know where you plan to stay, make sure to:

  • On your Traveler Preparedness Plan (PDF template included on the Get, Print, Copy and Take page), write emergency numbers and store them in your phone and email
  • Local equivalent of 911 (PDF)
  • ISOS: +1-215-942-8478
  • Your country’s embassy at your destination
  • Trip leader and/or in-country contact
  • Arrange a regular call schedule with someone at home; if you miss a call, that person can alert Columbia
  • Practice being aware of your surroundings (situational awareness)

If you have any questions, please email us at