Tomorrow – the day before Thanksgiving – is one of the most traveled days of the year. According to AAA, almost 47 million Americans are estimated to travel 50 miles or more from their home this holiday weekend. On Monday, the U.S. State Department announced a worldwide travel alert in response to the increased terrorist threats, which only adds to the normal heightened safety concerns during this time.
Awareness Is the Public’s Best Tool to Counter Terror. It’s Also Common Sense.
With the holiday season in full swing, U.S. citizens should be aware of their immediate surroundings and avoid large crowds or crowded places, such as holiday festivals. To stay up-to-date on any new alerts, monitor the media for more information. While the worldwide travel alert is in place for terrorist organizations, citizens should also be aware of the risks of lone wolf attacks as Hillard Heintze CEO Arnette Heintze recently addressed on WGN News.
Five of the Best Websites for International Travel Safety and Security
Whether you’re traveling on the road or in the air, we suggest that you briefly review several authoritative online sources for travel warnings, safety tips, country alerts and travel security best practices. We have found these five to be among the top sites with very helpful information:
1. The U.S. Department of State’s Travel Website
http://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en.html – The Travel.State.Gov pages are dedicated to protecting the lives and interests of U.S. citizens abroad. While much of the agency’s activity in this regard is focused on routine and emergency services to Americans at embassies and consulates around the world, the site provides a great deal of useful information for international travelers. Key features include the following:
2. Websites of U.S. Embassies, Consulates and Diplomatic Missions
www.USEmbassy.gov – Also managed by the U.S. Department of State, this rich resource provides critical news and notes about risks, points of contact, travel warnings, country-specific information and travel alert.
3. Overseas Security Advisory Council
www.osac.gov – This third site is another terrific resource for international travelers sponsored by the State Department. This is designed to help American businesses conducting work overseas with travel information to avoid disruptions by notifying travelers about changing risks around the world. OSAC provides updated information addressing specific incidents of crime and unrest in areas that could have economic impact on American businesses and western travelers.
4. Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)
https://step.state.gov/step/ – The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program is a free service that helps U.S. citizens traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. This ensures that you will receive information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans. It will also help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency. And it will help family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.
5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Travel Website
http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/resources-for-travelers – The CDC site is an exceptional resource for travel health – and researching health-related information for travelers, by destination.
For additional information, see my blog from February 25, 2015 entitled “International Travel Security: The Top 12 Steps You Should Take to Protect Your Life (and Your Wallet).”