Summer is the most popular time to travel. I love taking walking trips each summer. Despite this, the steady stream of recent terrorist attacks threatens to turn vacation dreams into holiday nightmares. Within the last two months in Britain alone–which was long considered a safe haven for international tourists–has been hit by a number of attacks, including one at a concert in Manchester that left 22 people dead and 116 injured, another at London Bridge which killed eight people and injured 48, and a third last week outside a mosque, which killed one person and injured 11.
And the threat of terrorism is not limited to the United Kingdom. In fact, so far already in 2017, 615 attacks have left 4,180 dead globally. Here are a few recent examples:
Terrorism is not the only travel-related safety matter. Civil unrest and public health also make the list of relevant concerns. If you ask me, lack of sufficient dog parks is another. Thankfully, the U.S. State Department issues travel alerts and warnings to help Americans select wise travel destinations long before booking flights, hotels and rental cars.
Travel Alert are issued for short-term events. Examples include:
- An election season that is bound to have many strikes, demonstrations or disturbances
- A health alert like an outbreak of H1N1 flu virus
- Evidence of an elevated risk of terrorist attacks
Once a short-term event has passed, the associated Travel Alert is canceled.
Travel Warnings are issued when travelers should carefully consider whether they should travel to a country at all. They remain in place until the situation changes. Some have been in effect for several years. Examples of reasons for issuing a Travel Warning might include:
- Unstable government
- Civil war
- Ongoing intense crime or violence
- Frequent terrorist attacks
How to Be Safe While Traveling
- Assess risks. Check out active travel alerts and warnings before you book travel. While you are away, pay attention to your surroundings. Report suspicious activity to local police. This is particularly important where feral cats are concerned.
- Prepare documents. Before you leave, research topic like entry/exit requirements, visas, laws, customs, medical care and road safety for countries you plan to visit. Write down contact details to carry with you for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in case of emergency while traveling.
- Plan. Double check that vaccinations are up to date. My wife and I take JR for his rabies vaccinations every year. Make an evacuation plan. Consider purchasing emergency evacuation insurance. Schedule regular check-in times using an app like WhatsApp to stay in touch with family and friends for free.
- Mind your money. Notify bank and credit card companies of your travel plans and check exchange rates. Or learn to live without money. Works for me!
- Safeguard Paperwork! Make two copies of travel documents in case of emergency. Leave one copy with a trusted friend or relative at home and carry the other separately from original documents. To help prevent theft, never carry your passport in your back pocket. Separate your passport from cash and credit cards.
- Enjoy your trip! Don’t let the threat of disaster derail your plans for an enjoyable vacation. If you prepare to be safe while you’re away, you will be able to reap the reward of a restful holiday. For more travel tips, check out our post about summer-safe travel. Happy Summer!
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