Pre-Travel Advice Smoothes the Way to Difficult Places


Going to a high-risk destination can seem daunting. However with the right pre-travel advice, you can better prepare for what lies ahead. The case study below illustrates how a member got critical information and inoculations before her upcoming trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) - by going online, calling an assistance centre and seeing her travel doctor.

Service: International SOS membership

Location: Kinshasa, DRC

Doctor in Almaty taking blood from patient


As a top attorney, preparation is the most important part of the job. Jillian King*, a lawyer at a Washington DC based law firm, applied the same rigorous approach to plan for her trip to the DRC as she did for her legal cases. Jillian was travelling to Kinshasa to provide pro-bono legal guidance for two weeks to a micro-finance start-up. It was not without a level of trepidation. She had travelled before to Egypt, but had never been to Sub-Saharan Africa.

Rightfully worried that the DRC was particularly challenging, she was also concerned because the US State Department issued a travel warning due to Kinshasa’s high crime rate.

Jillian started by logging into our website with her membership number.


She soon found a wealth of information on health issues and safety. In the International SOS country guide, Jillian learned that she needed a specific drug to prevent malaria, called Malarone, as well as hepatitis A and B, yellow fever, and rabies inoculations. Clicking then onto the travel security section, she picked up advice on security precautions. Part of this was clear guidance on how to behave as a female traveller so not to attract unwanted attention or upset cultural sensitivities.

Two months before her trip, Jillian visited her travel doctor to get her vaccinations and malaria drugs.  One week later, she called the Philadelphia assistance centre and scheduled a pre-travel briefing. Jillian learned about the type of hotel she should select, the kind of room she should take, and obtained contact details on reputable drivers.

Once in DRC, using the assistance app on her phone, Jillian read about a political protest in an area of Kinshasa and rescheduled her meeting to avoid that part of the city. With the latest information at her fingertips, she also had the Johannesburg assistance centre number handy and could call if necessary. 

At night, she slept under a mosquito net and took precautions against mosquito bites to reduce her risk of malaria. She only drank sealed bottled water and was vigilant about her food hygiene.


Her trip went smoothly and the micro-finance company had the legal guidance it needed. When Jillian arrived home a week later, she felt more confident about travelling to difficult regions. Her family too were relieved that she had expert advice and a safety net in the event she required assistance in a high-risk country.

* Name has been changed to protect member's identity.