Traveling abroad these days can seem scary. The political unrest in Turkey and the tragic events in France are just the latest in a seemingly endless stream of attacks and upheaval abroad. When planning a trip overseas, use these guidelines to ensure your safety should you get caught up in such an incident.
1. Contact the U.S. Embassy – Before you travel, look for the nearest U.S. Embassy and use “STEP,” the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. Using STEP, you can let the embassy know of your whereabouts, status and continuing travel plans.
2. Use Social Media – Facebook has a feature known as Safety Check, which allows you to quickly update your friends and family of your safety. A geolocation function will map your proximity to a site of crisis. On your next visit to Facebook, the app will prompt you to “mark yourself safe.”
3. Set Up An International Calling and Data Plan – Your smartphone is your lifeline and connection to your network of friends and family. When traveling abroad, it’s imperative that you be able to use it. You can’t underestimate the importance of having the ability to call emergency services, travel providers, and your friends and family. Especially in the event of a crisis, you’ll want access to Google Maps, social media, travel rebooking emails, and news updates on the situation. You can also visit the website for the U.S. State Department’s Alerts and Warnings, which details any new potential threats to foreign tourists resulting from the crisis.
4. Know Your Travel Details – Before you travel, be sure to compile a written list of phone numbers for your booked airlines and hotels and your confirmation numbers. Be sure to memorize your passport number. Monitor social media accounts in case travel should be disrupted or rescheduled.