Safety tips and resources for Americans traveling out of the country

September 13, 2012

Photo: AP via HuffPoThe recent attacks at our nation’s Embassies in Egypt, Libya and Yemen and the continuing (and planned) demonstrations across the Middle East may make many Americans reconsider traveling abroad during these violent times.

But if you do plan to travel out of the country for business or pleasure, consider visiting the US State Department’s Travel site for information about travel alerts, international travel resources and tips, passport and visa information and more.

For example, the State Department issued a travel warning as of September 13, 2012 to Algeria due to “a high threat of terrorism and kidnappings.”

And obviously as of September 12, 2012, the Department of State warns U.S. Citizens against all travel to Libya.  Also on 9/12 the Department of State ordered the departure of all non-emergency U.S. government personnel from Libya, following the attack on the U.S. Diplomatic mission in Benghazi. The political violence has increased in both Benghazi and Tripoli. The airports in Benghazi and Tripoli are open and U.S. citizens are encouraged to depart by commercial air.

U.S. citizens traveling to, or remaining in, Libya should use extreme caution and limit nonessential travel within the country, make their own contingency emergency plans, enroll their presence in Libya through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), and provide their current contact information and next-of-kin or emergency contact information.

Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)The Bureau of Consular Affairs’ STEP (formerly known as “Travel Registration” or “Registration with Embassies”) allows you to receive the latest travel updates and information, plus authorities will be able to assist you better in the case of an emergency. Over the years, consular officers in embassies and consulates around the world have assisted thousands of U.S. citizens overseas who have lost passports, had their passports stolen, experienced health problems, been detained, dealt with natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes, and other emergencies.

Consider using the following tips from the State Department to make your travel easier and safer:

  • If you register your travel plans through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program  it will help the Department contact you if there is a family emergency in the U.S., or if there is a crisis where you are traveling. In accordance with the Privacy Act, information on your welfare and whereabouts will not be released to others without your express authorization.
  • Make sure you have a signed, valid passport, and a visa, if required, and fill in the emergency information page of your passport.
  • Leave copies of your itinerary, passport data page and visas with family or friends, so you can be contacted in case of an emergency.
  • Ask your medical insurance company if your policy applies overseas, and if it covers emergency expenses such as medical evacuation. If it does not, consider supplemental insurance.
  • While in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws. The State Department web has useful safety and other information about the countries you will visit. Learn more
  • To avoid being a target of crime, do not wear conspicuous clothing or jewelry and do not carry excessive amounts of money. Also, do not leave unattended luggage in public areas and do not accept packages from strangers.
  • Contact the State Department in an emergency. Consular personnel at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad and in the U.S. are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to provide emergency assistance to U.S. citizens. Contact information for U.S. Embassies and Consulates appears on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website at http://travel.state.gov. Also note that the Office of Overseas Citizen Services in the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs may be reached for assistance with emergencies at 1-888-407-4747, if calling from the U.S. or Canada, or 202-501-4444, if calling from overseas.

Learn more at http://travel.state.gov or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/travelgov or Twitter at https://twitter.com/TravelGov .

Another good site to review prior to traveling abroad is the Center for Disease Control travel site at www.cdc.gov/travel to obtain health information and alerts, resources and travel notices.

Also download some free tips and information about earthquakes, hurricanes and other topics from our IT’S A DISASTER! book here and stay safe!

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