International travel involves a myriad of details, and the undeniable potential for harrowing experiences – long flights, multiple layovers, luggage issues, language barriers and the like. There is plenty to rattle even seasoned travelers! Another genuine concern for those traveling abroad? Safety. Fortunately, there are resources providing valuable information on both avoiding trouble when traveling overseas, as well as what to do in the event trouble finds you. Here are a few suggestions for safe travels.
Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This free program is a quick and easy way for U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to register their trip with the U.S. Consulate or Embassy nearest their destination. The Embassy/Consulate will send you safety alerts, which can have a huge impact on your trip! The program also means the Embassy/Consulate has a means of contacting you should any emergency arise (think natural disaster or some sort of violent demonstration). It also serves as one more way for family to contact you in case of emergency. This is a great program for those traveling regularly and widely, who may want to create an account.
Know before you go. Do a little research, check travel advisories and alerts, and read at least basic safety information once your trip is set (or even before; depending on the travel advisory, you may want to postpone or cancel your trip). The U.S. State Department’s website is a treasure trove for this purpose. Simply look up the country or countries in question, and you can check for any travel alerts while checking visa requirements! Even if there is no special alert, do take a minute to read the section on safety. Much of the information is common sense, but region-specific advice is also included, and reading it can help you avoid a host of problems.
Check up on required or recommended vaccinations. The CDIC will help you find out what vaccinations you may need before your trip.
Tap your emergency contact. Make sure a responsible party back home has a copy of your itinerary, hotel information, contact information, etc., in case of an emergency. In that vein, make sure the Embassy or Consulate with which you are registered also has this party’s contact information.
Don’t lose your travel documents! This is obvious, so, just in case you do inexplicably lose your travel documents, keep copies of ALL your travel documents. This is also a perfect example of why you should read the regional safety information on the State Department’s site. Pickpockets are a leading cause of lost travel documents, as tourists often make easy targets. So, do make copies, and do guard your travel documents!
Don’t talk to strangers! Too much, anyway. Meeting locals is a huge part of the experience of international travel, but don’t assume you’ve found your new best friend because you had a pleasant chat at the Taj Mahal. Don’t be paranoid or rude but be careful about how chummy you get.
Use your own best judgment. We often give others better advice than we hold ourselves to. In this case, think of the advice you would give a loved one traveling abroad, and take it yourself. This advice should include enjoying yourself, by the way.
Listen to the voice of experience. Know someone who has traveled to your destination before you? Get their input! Ask friends, relatives, colleagues who have visited the region. They may have some anecdotes that will prove very helpful to you. The more information you have, the better, so stock up! People who have visited before can be particularly helpful regarding hotels, airport transportation (scams are common in this area almost wherever you go), and dietary concerns.
The world, and traveling it, can be very dangerous. While some things are beyond our control, many dangers are avoided or diminished through preparedness and plain common sense. Once you have reviewed the information about your destination, including any possible dangers and taken any necessary precautions, you can depart worry-free and ready to enjoy your trip!
Planet Depos has been covering legal proceedings worldwide for over a decade. Planet Depos reporters and videographers live and travel pretty much everywhere, making them a great resource for travel tips, from safety considerations to where to get the best local cuisine. For more information on international travel, or to schedule your own proceeding abroad, contact Planet Depos International Scheduling at 888.433.3767 or firstname.lastname@example.org.