As the country begins to safely reopen and travel begins to pick up again, we thought an article with some of our favorite tips for traveling abroad was in order. While it always make sense to exercise additional caution when venturing away from home, additional issues come into play when traveling abroad. It is important to understand any specific security concerns in the areas you will be visiting, take appropriate precautions, and know what to do if a situation should arise.
1. Research Potential Security Concerns
Before leaving the country, be sure that you are aware of any evolving security concerns in the country or countries you are visiting. Review the relevant country pages on the U.S. State Department website for any travel advisories and/or alerts. This information can be found at travel.state.gov/destination.
2. Review Local Laws and Conditions
Become familiar with the entry and exit requirements for the areas that you will be visiting, and any local laws and customs that might pose a concern. For example, single-sex couples should understand the risks associated with traveling to a country where their relationship is considered a crime. You should also be aware of risks posed by health conditions, transportation safety and other concerns.
3. Check Your Documents
Well before your travel date, confirm that your passport is signed and up to date, and that you have any necessary visas. Be sure to complete the emergency information page of your passport.
4. Register Your Itinerary
Consider registering your itinerary with the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This registration informs the relevant U.S. embassies and consulates of your whereabouts, enabling them to send you any emergency Consular Affairs messages. In a crisis, the nearest office of American Citizens Services may even contact you to assess your status, location and need for assistance.
5. Load Emergency Contacts Into Your Phone
Record the 24-hour emergency number and address of your embassy or consulate in your mobile phone for the country or countries you are visiting. You should also know the number to contact emergency services in those countries (911 in the U.S., usually 112 or 999 in Europe).
6. Make Backup Copies of Key Documents
Photocopy your airline ticket, passport identification page, credit cards and take two additional passport photographs. Keep copies with you at all times in a separate place from the originals. Maintain copies of the documents at home.
7. Leave Contact Information With a Friend or Relative
Make sure that someone at home has a full itinerary of your trip, including all hotel names and phone numbers, so you can be contacted in case of emergency. If you are using a separate mobile phone for your travels (generally a good idea), make sure that your key contacts at home have the number.
8. Review Medical Coverage
Review your health insurance provider’s international coverage to understand what exposure you will have if you require medical care. This will help you determine if you need supplemental coverage for international travel, possibly including a medical evacuation policy. Bring an ample supply of prescription medication and the generic name of any prescription drug in your carry-on luggage.
9. Notify Credit Card Companies and Others
Though not strictly required, notification alerts reduce the possibility that the companies will suspend your cards for what may appear as suspicious activity. It also makes sense to ask your financial advisor, executive assistant and others to use extra caution if they receive an email asking that money be wired to you. It might be from someone who has hijacked your identity, so set up a secondary method of verification.
10. Avoid the Appearance of Affluence
You will make yourself less of a target if you avoid wearing conspicuously expensive clothing and jewelry. Do not carry higher amounts of currency than you will need on a given outing, and limit the number of credit cards in your wallet. Use your hotel safe to store valuable objects whenever you are not in your room.