With summer fast approaching, I’ve been thinking about the number of students who will be traveling outside their home countries to study or work as volunteers with NGOs around the globe. Many of these folks aren’t ‘seasoned’ travelers and may not be aware of some of the risks associated with the countries or areas they are going to. Some will be joining existing programs prearranged by a university or other organization, others may sign up directly to study a foreign language with a locally based group. Many of the NGOs require volunteers to arrange and pay for their own transportation. In these types of cases travel risk management is as important, if not more important than business travelers working for large corporations. NGOs or other organizations have duty of care responsibilities for these folks while they are involved in their program. In addition, some of these volunteers will take advantage of being on another continent to do a little leisure travel or sightseeing. Many of these plans or side trips are not scheduled before leaving home and can take them to areas that present significant risk due to political unrest, natural disasters or medical problems.
Program and volunteer coordinators, parents and family can do some simple emergency/crisis management planning prior to a participant or loved one leaving home. FocusPoint International’s CAP™ Program offers crisis response services in case of a problem and also provides pre-trip information, travel tracking and emergency communication. After watching the nightly news or reading the paper, parents may become quite concerned about their loved one going to a certain country. Having a plan in place, including a 24-hour response is the best way to help alleviate concerns. The peace of mind it provides to program organizers and a traveler’s family is immeasurable.
We live in an uncertain world. Anything that can be done to make travelers safer and provide a response in case of an unfortunate incident is invaluable.