Ok. I’ll admit it. Some things happening in the world scare me. As much as I like to travel, there are certain places I won’t go, especially with my children. While I don’t believe travel is any more dangerous than it used to be, there are some alarming risks of violence and illness. That’s why it’s so important to be an informed traveler. A useful tool for travelers from the United States, or US citizens living abroad, is the The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This is a simple (and free) way to be made aware of travel alerts and warnings issued by the U.S. State Department. All you need to do is fill in some basic information on the website like your phone number, email address, passport number, and the country you intend to visit. Not only will you receive notifications about the latest safety conditions in that country, but enrolling will also give the local U.S. Embassy the ability to contact you in the event of a natural disaster, civil unrest, or if there is a family emergency back home. You do not need to enroll to get assistance abroad from the US Embassy but enrolling will give you peace of mind and keep you informed while traveling.
They also have an active Facebook page that updates frequently with worldwide travel advisory warnings and useful travel tips.
A bit more info:
What is the difference between a travel alert and a travel warning?
A travel alert is issued for any short-term event that could pose a risk to a traveler. Examples are demonstrations, strikes, strikes, and illnesses like Zika virus.
A travel warning is issued when the State Department recommends a trip be postponed, often due to ongoing civil unrest, dangerous conditions, or military conflict. A travel warning is also issued if the US has no diplomatic ties with a certain country, making assistance to a US citizen in that country challenging.
Looking for more? Check out the STEP Program FAQ page.