Safety is essentially every tour company, parent, and teacher’s number one concern. We at CulturED Travel are seasoned travelers ourselves and seasoned travelers with students. All of our experience points to one thing which can prevent issues from occurring while on tour – having responsible travelers who obey and abide by our behavior guidelines. If each traveler would abide by all of the guidelines we have set forth, safety becomes almost a non-issue. However, the reality is that no one person can control the actions of others or predict the actions of others with 100% accuracy. Parents and Teachers, it is important that you stress the necessity of abiding by the behavior guidelines with your students prior to departure. Furthermore, while we wish this went without saying, all adults (parents, teachers and chaperones included) who are travelers on our tours also need to follow the behavior guidelines.
We value personal responsibility on the part of our travelers, but we also want you to be aware that we have done everything on our part to ensure all of those who do abide by the behavior guidelines are able to travel feeling confident and safe. We constantly monitor conditions in all of our destinations and would not travel to a place we deem unsafe in anyway. Additionally, a CulturED program director will be on each tour. Each program director is familiar with the locations traveled and will act as a first point of contact in the event of any emergency.
Prior to departure for international destinations, all travelers will be asked to enroll in the U.S. Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) which “is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.” Those enrolled are thus able to do the following: “receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in destination country, help make informed decisions about travel plans, help the U.S. Embassy contact the traveler in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency and help family and friends get in touch with the traveler in an emergency.” See https://step.state.gov/ for more details.
The following document from the FBI website “Safety and Security for US Students Traveling Abroad” will be provided. https://www.fbi.gov/file-repository/student-travel-brochure-pdf.pdf/view
At the final departure meeting (or prior to departure if anyone is unable to attend), all participants will be asked to download the Life 360 app or similar group management or location app. Families will be asked to contact their cell phone providers to find out the best international plan for their traveler. For domestic travel, families should still contact their provider to ensure cell phones will function without roaming charges. CulturED Travel is not responsible in any way for cell phone charges while on tour. It is very important to us that our travelers are not incessantly on their cellular devices missing out on the awesomeness in which will surround them, but cell phones are an excellent tool for staying safe while traveling and it is expected as such that travelers and their families will ensure to the best of their abilities that they will have cell phone service while on tour.
The hotel address and phone number will be provided to participants and parents, prior to departure. Hotels in all destinations have been carefully chosen for their location, safety, and security. If someone is separated from the group and unable to reconnect, the meeting point is the hotel or another designated meeting point for the day/time. Prior to departure, each traveler will be provided with a detailed map of each day’s itinerary using Google Maps (App encouraged to be downloaded). This should assist in the unlikely event someone does get separated (and in our experience, those who are following behavior guidelines will not get separated) and needs to reunite quickly as will the Life 360 or other similar app all participants should have.
For individual emergencies, the remainder of the group would continue with the planned itinerary while appropriate actions are carried out on behalf of the individual. There will always be at least 2 employees and/or chaperones for each trip. The number of adults is contingent upon the number of student travelers. 1 or more will remain with the group while the other(s) will proceed as necessary with the individual in crisis. Employees of CulturED Travel will have cell phone service providers with international data and roaming which applies to and has been used in all areas of travel. That being said, CulturED Travel cannot guarantee functionality of cell phones as that would be outside of the control of our company.
In any other case of emergency, local emergency numbers will be provided to all travelers. For example, all domestic travel will have the emergency number of 911. In Istanbul (Turkey), 112 is the phone number which is used for emergencies as 911 is in the United States. We will defer to emergency services for the nearest hospital and or police assistance.
While English is not guaranteed to be spoken, it is understood to be common in most international destinations. If we are traveling somewhere where English is not the primary language, we will always have access to someone who will be able to translate for us if needed. As an extra precaution, participants will be provided with and coached on how to ask for help and identify the location of our hotel in the target language. Any participants with critical personal health issues will also be provided provided with this information in the target language prior to departure.
All participants are encouraged to report any concerns regarding safety immediately to their program director(s).