The events of the past month show how quickly things can change in popular holiday destinations. From civil unrest in Egypt to earthquakes in New Zealand, when traveling, you should always expect the unexpected. In 2004, we vacationed in the Maldives and left just 4 days before the tsunami hit. Last year, we were in Thaliand during the volatile protests taking place in downtown Bangkok. Things can happen at any time, any where to anyone.
We always register our trip with the US State Department before we leave the country. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service provided by the U.S. Government for U.S. citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country. You enter information about your upcoming trip on the website so that in case of emergency, the US State Department, consulate or local embassy can assist you . You’ll also get updates on travel warnings or alerts about your destination before and during the time you travel.
When you register for the first time, you’ll be able to store your information so next time you travel, entering information will be even faster. If you’re traveling with a group, you can enter information for each traveler into an Excel spreadsheet and upload everything at once.
In addition to registering with STEP before you leave, it’s also a good idea to take along the address and phone number of the US embassy or consulate for the country you are visiting. Should an emergency arise, you’ll have their contact information handy.
Last modified: December 30, 2013