Things You Should Know


How grand would it be to travel the world without a care as to whether one might come into harms’ way … the reality is, especially in light of recent events, that we all need to be smart about where we go and what we do.  

Most of you have probably seen the travel warnings of late – particularly in the Middle East – warning travelers to stay out of certain regions.  Just this week I received an email known as a STEP Notification, which comes from the Department of State’s Smart Travel Enrollment Program (the registration link follows below). In the interest of being smart AND proactive, I can’t think of a reason not to register with this program.   As indicated on the website, registering your foreign travel plans in advance with the State Department allows them to better aid you in case of an emergency.   And, in the interest of privacy, you can indicate just whom you want notified, be it a stateside relative, medical personnel, legal representative, etc.   I mean, in case you get caught dealing drugs abroad, you can have your lawyer handy!

We all know that moving about in this world for at least the last two decades remains the same:  how to go about it in as safe and sane a manner as we can.  I, for one, am not inclined to cede my quest to see the world to some potential bad guys.   But, things happen – most of them regrettably unpredictable – and so we all must be prepared.   Some additional information provided in the notification I received follows:
“We recommend U.S. citizens register their travel plans with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy through the State Department’s travel registration website. We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens Traveling abroad enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency.  If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
“For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State’s Internet website where the Worldwide Caution, Country Specific Information, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.  Download our free Smart Traveler app, available through iTunes or  Google Play, to have travel information at your fingertips. 
“In addition to information on the internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, from other countries, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.  These numbers are available from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday through Friday, Eastern Time (except U.S. federal holidays).”
Ok, now that we have all the cold, hard information out of the way, let’s get back to what I know to be true … that the ACTUAL chance one is going to confront this situation is pretty slim.  It is far more likely you’d be contacting the State Department because you lost your passport than because you were confronted with terrorism.  I’m thinking the world is mostly safe when one takes the necessary precautions. 

For the big trip next spring, one of the countries we’re visiting is Colombia (plus Peru & Ecuador). I’m checking with a contact there as to whether we can (safely) drive from Cartagena via Medellin on the way back to Bogota.  I mean, does one necessarily have to include the word “cartel” in there or am I watching too many movies? We’ll conduct all the due diligence and then make an informed decision. 

nd that’s what I’m talking about … careful, smart planning; then sit back and enjoy yourself!