Holiday vacation for many means opting out of the traditional home for the holidays scenario and heading out of the country for some leisurely travel. While jet setting to another country can be fun and exciting, we must be aware of the risks and things we can do to stay safe.
Staying safe starts at home. Before you pack your bags and way before you land on foreign soil, do your homework. Take a look at travel tips from the U.S. Transportation Security Administration and review the U.S. State Department’s Travel Checklist here. Once at the airport, remain alert and if you see something, say something.
The U.S. Department of State has resources available to help make good decisions while planning a trip and how to stay as safe once in another country. Here are key things to look into before hopping on that plane:
Check U.S. Department of State Alerts and Warnings. Are there current alerts and warnings for the country you are visiting? Understanding the risks you may be exposed to in the country you are traveling to is critical. Check alerts and warnings by country or area by clicking here.
Understand the difference between a U.S. Department of State Travel Warning and Travel Alert. The U.S. Department of State issues a Travel Warning when they want travelers to consider carefully travelling to a country at all and is more serious than an alert. According to the U.S. Department of State’s website, examples of reasons for issuing a Travel Warning might include unstable government, civil war, ongoing intense crime or violence, or frequent terrorist attacks.
A Travel Alert is issued for short-term events that should be kept in mind when planning travel. According to the U.S. Department of State’s website, examples of reasons for issuing a Travel Alert might include an election season that is bound to have many strikes, demonstrations, or disturbances; a health alert like an outbreak of H1N1; or evidence of an elevated risk of terrorist attacks. These are usually canceled after the event is over.
Stay connected to the U.S. through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. This free service allows travelers to register their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. This service is important as it will help the U.S. Embassy contact you as well as help friends and family get in touch with you in the event of an emergency such as a disaster, civil unrest or family emergency. Learn more about this program by clicking here.
Don’t forget about your health. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention lists health travel notices, diseases you may be exposed to and recommendations (such as vaccines) by country. For example, recently we have seen Zika virus health travel notices issued for various countries. Health travel notice information can be found by clicking here.
Knowledge is power and instrumental to staying safe abroad. Take the extra time to do research, plan and prepare. Safe travels!