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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

US Department of State Smart Traveler Enrollment Program Should be Part of Your Safety and Health Plan for International Travel

Why do the US Department of State STEP program and Smart Traveler App matter? 


STEP makes it easier for the nearest US Embassy to contact you in case of an emergency abroad.



In the past few years, the travel community has been rocked by attacks of various size and scope, from Turkey to England.  While most destinations that were targeted are probably no more dangerous than before attacks, you should be prepared when you're heading out of the United States, regardless of when—or where—you travel. One of the most helpful resources? The U.S. State Department's little well-known, Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), in which users register trips and get messages relevant to their area and travel dates.


Download the US department of State Smart Traveler App before departing on any international trip for iPhone or Android.

US Department of State Smart Traveler App is Important for your Next International Trip



This app was launched in 2011 and gives you important information for any country that you are  traveling to, as well as providing alerts while you are in the country.  LTD has done many blog posts on your safety and security when traveling and we cannot stress enough in these unique times, that you are aware of any potential risks when you travel internationally.

The Smart Travel App can be Used on iPhone, Andoid or iPad


A country officer of US consular services recently conducted an interview on Reddit, where he answered questions submitted to him.  His number one recommendation was to download the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program app. He also made some other points in this interview which are important for travelers to remember.

His first tip is something that LTD has already reviewed:  know what to do with prescription medications.  Transporting medications that are illegal into another country can result in jail time.  This is avoidable!  AND as he pointed out, know what medications are available in other countries if  you run out of medications or forget them, especially those medications that are critical to your health.

Another tip is don’t get involved in protests occurring in other countries for your safety.  Violence can escalate at them as the State Department has seen on many occasions.  LTD was recently in Athens where violence and fires broke out during protests.

The STEP app will give you information about the country you are traveling to, register that you are traveling to a country and alert you via texts of impending danger.  You can easily search travel advisories for the country or countries to which you are planning travel.

Look Up Any Country on the Smart Traveler App


LTD searched the United Kingdom to find that it has a level two travel advisory due to terrorism:

LTD was Surprised at United Kingdom's Level 2 Warning

What do these levels mean?  Well the app tells you:

“On January 10, 2018, the Department of State launched improvements to how we share information with U.S. travelers. These improvements will provide U.S. citizens with clear, timely, and reliable safety and security information worldwide. Under the new system, every country will have a Travel Advisory, providing levels of advice ranging from 1 to 4:
  • Level 1 - Exercise Normal Precautions: This is the lowest advisory level for safety and security risk. There is some risk in any international travel. Conditions in other countries may differ from those in the United States and may change at any time. 
  • Level 2 - Exercise Increased Caution: Be aware of heightened risks to safety and security. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory. Conditions in any country may change at any time. 
  • Level 3 - Reconsider Travel: Avoid travel due to serious risks to safety and security. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory. Conditions in any country may change at any time. 
  • Level 4 - Do Not Travel: This is the highest advisory level due to greater likelihood of life-threatening risks. During an emergency, the U.S. government may have very limited ability to provide assistance. The Department of State advises that U.S. citizens not travel to the country or leave as soon as it is safe to do so. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory. Conditions in any country may change at any time”
Each travel advisory will have the reason for the particular level, including items such as Terrorism, Crime or health issues.  It even links to what the CDC recommends for your health when traveling to particular countries within the app!

Even if you do not have an international calling and data plan, this app will be useful since most international hotels, cafes, airports, cruise ships and even city welcome centers have wifi available to you.

Use the usual security precautions when you travel always!

The most common security risk is pickpocketing! Don't let yourself be pickpocketed when you travel!  Use a security crossbody always!  Click the photo below to learn about one of our favorites that works for men or women!





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