Summer is right around the corner and college students are getting ready to travel abroad. Many may have an enjoyable time and some will not, due to not taking the proper precautions while traveling. A grueling number of vacations are usually ruined by one or more of the following: drugs, alcohol, disorderly behavior and preventable accidents. You should always know what the drug and other basic laws are before visiting another country, because saying that you did not know is not going to help.
More than 2,500 American citizens are arrested abroad, about half on narcotics charges. Besides drugs, alcohol can also cause trouble for U.S. citizens traveling abroad. Many students have been arrested for being intoxicated in public areas, for underage drinking, and for drunk driving. Any type of disorderly or reckless behavior is to be avoided. In many countries, behavior that would not be considered disorderly in the United States may be a violation of the law in other countries.
Being arrested while in another country is only half of the misfortune that will occur. When you are arrested in another country, the U.S. consulate officer cannot demand your immediate release or get you out of jail. He cannot represent you at your trial or give legal counsel. The only thing he can do is to notify your family of your arrest, visit you in jail after being notified of your arrest and intercede with local authorities to make sure that your rights under local law are fully observed and that you are treated humanly, according to internationally accepted standards.
Since the U.S. consulate officer is not able to do much, this can lead to interrogation and delays before trial, lengthy trials, weeks, months or life in prison, or even the death penalty.
Young Americans traveling abroad should not forget that using drugs or alcohol or engaging in reckless behavior while in another country can land them in foreign jail, cause them to suffer physical harm, or even worse. Always use common sense in any activity when you are visiting any part of the world so that safety hazards are minimized. It is possible to have a safe, risk-free trip if risky behavior is avoided and knowledge of basic laws in other countries is attained.