What You Need To Do Before Traveling Abroad on Behalf of Duke
Students, faculty and staff traveling internationally for Duke are required to enter their plans in the university’s travel registry
It was only through word of mouth and the Office of Information Technology (OIT) checking if Duke users logged in from within the area that Parrish, Director of Global Travel Policies and Incident Manager, was able to begin tracking down students, faculty, staff and alumni who were in Israel or Palestinian Territories. Parrish began checking on their safety, offering assistance and inquiring as to their plans for leaving the country following the university's travel restriction to the entirety of Palestinian territories and the country of Israel.
"You want that help as fast as you can," Parrish said. "It makes all the difference. If we see something awful happen, and we see in the Duke Travel Registry system that you're there, we're going to include you in outreach. Do you need evacuation? Do you need search and rescue? Are you not responding? Our office does that. We call. We email. We text. We call your emergency contact. We call your department and colleagues to see if they've heard from the traveler."
Students, faculty and staff who travel abroad with Duke support are required to enter their plans with the university's travel registry in advance of departure. This includes any trip for which financial and logistical support, academic approval, granting of credit for activity or work completed based on the travel, offering mentorship or there is any kind of material role for Duke in the travel. Registering enables Duke's responders to locate people, and it is the first step to connect travelers with the university's provider, International SOS. The service provides medical, safety and security services as well as evacuation and repatriation of remains services. They have their own international clinics, remote-site medical facilities across five continents and their own fleet of medical evacuation airplanes with medical staff onboard.
Trips are automatically added to the registry when travel is booked using the university's Concur purchasing system, but travelers can also manually enter their trip itinerary and flight information if booked on their own. The quick task of adding an itinerary in the registry at travel.duke.edu, Parrish said, not only complies with Duke's Global Travel Policy but also provides a wealth of resources to prepare for a trip and serves as a support system while abroad.
Once registered, International SOS will provide a report on a destination, including history, holidays, medical care locations and where to find English speakers should you need services such a medical clinics or pharmacies. Then, while traveling abroad, the service can provide emergency support in case of a medical issue, stolen passport or evacuation in the event of a natural disaster or act of terrorism. International SOS can even provide mental health counselors if you're in crisis abroad as well.
For Beth Ray-Schroeder, Senior Director of Duke Travels at Duke Alumni Engagement and Development, the Duke Travel Registry has been a staple of her pre-trip checklist for years as she regularly travels internationally for work and plans international travel programs for alumni led by faculty and staff. The registry provides peace of mind that she or the travelers will get the support and information they need in an emergency abroad.
She's experienced with how International SOS can quickly take control in a scary situation and provide support by connecting travelers with doctors and services on the ground immediately. But International SOS offers more than just logistics, she said. It also provides a sense of relief and care when you may be on your own in a foreign city.
"There's no predicting what can happen when you're abroad," Ray-Schroeder said. "When these emergencies happen, they happen in real-time. What I hear most is not only that the assistance is there, but it's just this feeling that 'I'm not alone, not isolated.' It does help. It's comforting."
While registering is required for anybody traveling abroad with Duke support, students, faculty and staff traveling internationally for personal reasons can also add their trip to the registry and purchase personal coverage from International SOS at a discount.
The travel registry and International SOS serve as a critical lifeline back to Duke and the United States in case something goes wrong. Without it, you may find yourself on your own when you need assistance most.
"You don't expect to have an emergency. You don't expect to get in a car accident. You don't expect to trip on a curb and break a leg," Parrish said. "If it's a serious health event, you want that help as fast as you can get it. It makes all the difference."