Q: We’re going to Europe for spring break next week, and although we’re not going to cancel, I am concerned about the State Department warnings about travel to Europe. Any tips on traveling internationally right now? Thanks!
A: I’m heading to Italy with my family on Saturday, and I’ve definitely been thinking about the safety of travel in these often confusing times. Keeping safe while on the road is an important concern, and I definitely have tips for anyone heading overseas in the next few months.
Let’s start with the US State Department travel warning:
Travel Alert: Europe
The State Department alerts U.S. citizens to potential risks of travel to and throughout Europe following several terrorist attacks, including the March 22 attacks in Brussels claimed by ISIL. Visit www.travel.state.gov for Worldwide Caution and Country Specific Information, and to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
So although this is a warning, it’s pretty general, and is basically asking travelers to be alert, educate themselves, and plan ahead. Here’s how:
- Register with the US State Department –By filling out the online form as part of the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, the government will know where you are in case of an emergency.
- Read up — Click through to get specific advice on the Learn About Your Destination page for the country you’re visiting and read any alerts. (For Italy, the terrorism warning is on the same page as keeping an eye on active volcanoes such as Mt Etna; so I’m feeling cautiously optimistic.)
- Create a detailed master itinerary — Include flight information, where you’ll be staying, and the dates you’ll be there. Then leave a copy with a friend or relative (or both).
- Passport back up — Make a copy of everyone’s passport and keep it in a separate spot from your real passports. Leave a copy at home with your itinerary as well. This is an insurance policy in case you’re separated from your passport for any reason, including theft or loss.
- Bank back up — Alert your bank that you’re traveling; most banks have an option for this on their websites. This is a good travel tip in general since you never want your bank to cut you off when you’re on vacation because they think your ID has been stolen, especially if you need money in a crisis situation.
Hopefully you’ll never be in a situation where you’ll need to use any of this, but it’s good to have the information at your finger tips.
Have a family travel question?
Email Melissa at firstname.lastname@example.org