Permanxiety & The Information Gap

Why are you anxious about traveling?

I’m just anxious I won’t make friends.
— Anonymous Student, Class of 2020

Today, there is a near-constant state of anxiety that revolves around travel, especially overseas—so much so that Skift Research coined the phrase “permanxiety” to describe exactly this. Travelers experience a stream of worries about terrorism, security, geopolitics, technology and its adverse role, and so in. The reality of all of these worries?  They aren’t going away anytime soon, and the anxieties students care about the most aren’t what you’d think. Safety is not in the top two anxieties polled students had about travel—it was a distant third after affordability and making friends.

Colleges and universities today are deeply challenged by needless technical obstacles to discharging duties to mitigate foreseeable risks to the safety and security of students studying abroad. Current travel-tracking solutions are antiquated and ineffective. To the extent a school has the foresight and maturity to offer products and services like emergency contact cards or check-in apps, students are overwhelmingly unaware or disengaged. The schools own the risk but are flying blind. In fact, nearly 70% of students did not report their side-trips and/or their independent off-campus travel while on school-sponsored programs. The information gap is bad for everyone. Students need safety and security services, but don’t voluntarily adopt them, even when available or made mandatory. Social connections, adventure, and budget drive student travel behaviors. Safety and security are after-thoughts or “no-thoughts”—third on their totem pole of travel anxieties. When something goes wrong, the school is exposed not only to incident-related loss and expense, but disproportionate harm to reputation, and to strategic objectives to promote wide use of study abroad options.

My mantra is travel now, worry later.
— Anonymous Student, Class of 2019