This post is inspired by the very grim news of the earthquake in Japan this week. As you may have seen, I don’t normally like to write in a totally factual and serious manner. My job is planning vacation travel, which is a pretty cheery topic and I like to indulge my inner child!
I advise my clients to take certain steps regarding safety, trip insurance, activities, food hygiene, customs and laws – on and on! This is all so they can be as safe and prepared as possible. Some feel I’m over-cautious; most pick and choose the advice they like and disregard the rest and that’s OK!
The earthquake and the violent demonstrations in Egypt last month have prompted me to get another piece of advice out to you – register with the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) when traveling out of the US! This is a free service provided by the U.S. Government to U.S. citizens who are traveling to, or living in, a foreign country.
STEP allows you to enter information about your upcoming trip abroad so that the Department of State can better assist you in an emergency. STEP also allows Americans residing abroad to get routine information from the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate In the case of emergency, the State Department will have a method of contacting you, and will be able to keep track of the number and location of US citizens abroad. Often the State Department will be instrumental in evacuations when needed. It’s easy to do, and your information is dropped out of the system once your travel is completed. You can get the information at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/, or ask your travel agent to help you!