What the U.S. State Department travel warning should mean to you

What can you do to swing the balance of safety in your favor?

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International travel for some U.S. citizens, especially first-timers, can be a bit intimidating which could lead to letting one’s guard down in a stressful situation. Preparation is key to successful travel in any new location. It’s much like getting on a plane and just giving a quick glance around the cabin to get a sense of how far the exits are… just in case.

Here is an excerpt for the U.S. State Department travel warning to give you context and following that, some tips for your next trip.

Statement regarding U.S. Department of State Worldwide Travel Alert

November 25, 2015 — U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation, be aware of their immediate surroundings, and avoid large crowds or crowded places. State Department representatives indicated that there was no specific threat against U.S. citizens, the alert is guidance for U.S. citizens to be more cognizant of their surroundings due to recent events.

What can you do to swing the balance of safety in your favor? Some simple things to consider:

1) Don’t wear clothing that identifies you as American. Big U.S. flag shirts, etc., will simply make you more of a target. Find out what the locals wear and mirror that as best you can.
2) Make the investment in trip insurance. Best to protect yourself and those travelling with you. Past successful travels is no guarantee of future safety.
3) Enroll in STEP. State Department issued safety and emergency information will be sent to you via email or text.
4) Let your credit card companies know you’ll be traveling. Bring a list of their phone numbers and leave it in your hotel safe.
5) Wear a money belt and only access it in a private space such as a bathroom stall.
6) Know local cultural do’s and dont’s. Did you know you shouldn’t point at someone in Japan with chopsticks!?!
7) And more… Let common sense and situational awareness rule the day for a successful and safe vacation abroad!