General Advice

Please remember that no place on earth is perfectly safe. Any travel carries with it certain inherent risks.  In most instances, many of the trials and tribulations of travel – whether domestic or abroad – can be avoided by taking certain precautions.  Make sure to educate yourself about your destination and follow the safety tips provided here.

Field research can be physically demanding. You should be prepared to work outdoors for extended periods. Note that field sites are often located in remote places without the standard conveniences of an urban setting.  To prepare for such conditions, it is wise to consider the geographical characteristics of your location – such as climate, altitude, and population.  Each program will provide a list of equipment and supplies that will help you to prepare for conditions in the field.

Health Insurance

Domestic programs: Students attending field schools within the US must provide proof of health insurance. An image of your insurance card with your name clearly shown is sufficient. Alternatively, go to your insurer website and download “proof of health insurance” document. Most insurance companies have such function posted on their website. Upload this information to the enrollment packet at

International Programs (outside the US): A traveler’s health insurance policy is provided by the Institute for Field Research (IFR) and is part of the tuition for the program. No additional payment is required.

Health Insurance Policy: Health insurance coverage is provided by GeoBlue. Coverage is provided for the program dates only, as described on the IFR webpage and syllabus. Prior to the program beginning date, GeoBlue will email students their Login password. Students will then be able to log into the GeoBlue Student Site and download their insurance card. Students who wish to extend their health insurance beyond the program dates – travel before or after the program – may do so through contacting GeoBlue.

What is Covered: GeoBlue insurance policy provides 100% coverage and there are no deductibles. This insurance covers preexisting conditions, chronic and metal diseases, as well as medical evacuation (download brochure here). Since we operate in remote locations, most medical facilities will not accept the card as payment. In such cases, students should pay for local costs directly and submit a claim to GeoBlue upon return. Be sure to keep all receipts for medical treatment. Claim forms are available at the GeoBlue website and may be accessed using your ID and Password.

Download the GeoBlue App: GeoBlue is providing you with a free app that may be downloaded to your smart phone. The app finds a medication’s availability, generic name, and local brand name. It translates medical terms and phrases for many symptoms and situations and use an audio feature to play the translation. And, it search providers for medical, dental, or mental health care and map them using GPS technology (although this function is not useful for most of our locations as we are far from major cities). To learn more, watch this video.

Citizens of Host Countries

If you are a citizen of the host country – the country in which the field school takes place – you may not be covered by our insurance carrier. You should be covered by the national health scheme in your home country. Exceptions to this rule may be provided only to students who have citizenship in another country as well, or hold permanent resident status in another country (other than the one where the program takes place).

Health and Safety Guide

Traveling can be a risky endeavor, even within the US. It is important that you prepare yourself before and during your travels. Here are some tips to help ensure a safe and healthy field school experience:


If you travel abroad, read the State Department’s Travel Advisory for your country and visit the Centers for Disease Control site for relevant health information for your country (including immunization requirements and recommendations).

  1. Make sure the program director is aware of any medical conditions you have.
  2. Pack a first-aid kit (including Band-Aids, disinfectant, over-the-counter medications for headaches, diarrhea, sinus conditions, etc.).
  3. If you take prescription medication, bring enough with you to cover your entire time in the field.
  4. Always pack prescription medications in your carry-on bag.
  5. Drink plenty of bottled water while traveling.
  6. To reduce jet lag, try to sleep as much as possible on the plane. Once you arrive at your destination, try to avoid sleeping until night time.
  7. Travel in groups. Do not walk alone.
  8. Do not accept rides from strangers or put yourself in a compromising situation with someone you have just met. If you go out with locals, make sure to leave their names and addresses with your program director.
  9. If you sight-see independently, let the program director know where you are going and when you will return.
  10. Always carry emergency telephone numbers with you.
  11. Check-in with someone in your home country from time to time.
  12. If you travel abroad, keep your passport and other travel documents (plane tickets, travelers checks receipts, extra passport photos, etc.) in a safe place. Keep a photocopy of the front page of your passport separate from your passport.
  13. Do not carry large amounts of cash.

Stay in Contact

Make arrangements to contact your family periodically.  Check in when you arrive to let your family know you have arrived safely. If you leave the project location to sightsee during weekends, please let the Program Director or staff member know where you are going.  If you go out with people who are not part of the program, please let the Program Director or staff member know the names of those people.

Safety on the Street

Use the same common sense traveling overseas that you would at home. Be especially cautious in crowded subways, train stations, elevators, tourist sites, marketplaces, festivals, and avoid peripheral areas of cities.

  1. Always remain aware of your surroundings.
  2. Don’t use shortcuts, narrow alleys, or poorly-lit streets.
  3. Avoid traveling alone.  Three’s is the best way to visit local attractions.
  4. Avoid public demonstrations and other civil disturbances.
  5. Keep a low profile and avoid loud conversations or arguments. Do not discuss travel plans or other personal matters with strangers.
  6. Avoid scam artists. Beware of strangers who approach you offering bargains or offering to be your guide.
  7. Beware of pickpockets. They often have an accomplice who will:
    1. Jostle you.
    2. Ask you for directions or the time.
    3. Point to something spilled on your clothing.
    4. Distract you by creating a disturbance.
  8. Wear the shoulder strap of your bag across your chest and walk with the bag away from the curb to avoid drive-by purse snatchers.
  9. Try to seem purposeful when you move about. Even if you are lost, act as if you know where you are going.  When possible, ask directions only from individuals in authority.
  10. Know how to use a pay telephone and have the proper change or token on hand.
  11. Learn a few phrases in the local language so you can signal your need for help, the police, or a doctor. Make a note of emergency telephone numbers you may need: police, fire, your hotel, and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
  12. If you are confronted, don’t fight back. Give up your valuables.
  13. Always carry the IFR emergency card with you.
  14. If you see your way being blocked by a stranger and another person is very close to you from behind, move away. This can happen in the corridor of the train or on the platform or station.
  15. Do not accept food or drinks from strangers.
  16. When taking overnight trains, lock your compartment. If it cannot be locked securely, or if you are sharing a compartment with other travelers, tie down your luggage, strap your valuables to you, and sleep on top of them as much as possible.
  17. Do not be afraid to alert authorities if you feel threatened in any way.

Safety on Public Transportation

Taxis: Only take taxis clearly identified with official markings.  Beware of unmarked cabs.  Make sure the meter is running.  In some countries, you must negotiate the price of a taxi ride before taking it.  Please consult with your field school director prior to arrival about the specific local traditions related to taxis.

Buses/Trains: Be vigilant when using public transportation.

  1. If you see your way being blocked by a stranger and another person is very close to you from behind, move away. This can happen in the corridor of the train or on the platform or station.
  2. Do not accept food or drinks from strangers.
  3. When taking overnight trains, lock your compartment. If it cannot be locked securely, or if you are sharing a compartment with other travelers, tie down your luggage, strap your valuables to you, and sleep on top of them as much as possible.
  4. Do not be afraid to alert authorities if you feel threatened in any way.

Mental Health-Related Issues

Traveling and studying in another country are demanding activities that often compound or exacerbate both physical and emotional issues. In particular, if students are concerned about their use of alcohol and other controlled drugs or if they have an emotional or physical health concern, they should address it honestly before making plans to travel and study abroad.

Non Discrimination & Harassment Policy

The IFR is committed in all areas to providing an environment that is free from discrimination or harassment. Harassment based upon an individual’s sex, race, ethnicity, national origin, age or religion will not be tolerated in any of our field schools or in the workplace. All affiliates are expected and required to abide by this policy.

Sexual Harrasment Policy

The IFR created a comprehensive policy for Sexual Harassment.  Click here for the full policy. The IFR support consent policies.  Here is a short video that help explains how we feel about consent – whether in the field, lab, dorm or any other location.


If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe while in the field, contact the Insitute for Field Research (IFR) immidiately. Add the IFR to your list of emergency contacts, and keep the list handy.
IFR hotline (24/7): +1 (424) 226-6983
IFR Email: