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Stay Safe on Vacation Abroad: Use U.S. State Dept.'s Free Program

8:22 AM, Jul 5, 2013   |    comments
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United States - As recent headlines depict the latest instances of public unrest and demonstrations abroad, the U.S. Department of State is acknowledging travelers might be concerned about safety and subsequently cancelling their summer trips abroad.

The department encourages vacationers to spend a few minutes on its website before opting to change plans. On Travel.Safe.Gov, a service of the Bureau of Consular Affairs, people can find tips on traveling abroad-from what to take, what clothes to wear and what to leave behind.

For example, the state department warns against losing personal identification. It suggests making two photocopies of passport identification, airline tickets, driver's licenses and credit cards. Leave one photocopy of the data with family or friends at home and pack the other in a separate place from where the originals are carried.

Vacationers also can sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program-STEP. In registering for that program, travelers can see what the U.S. stipulates they can do and cannot do in the event of a crisis, should families find themselves in trouble overseas. It's a free service that allows American travelers to register their plans in advance so they can receive information about the closest U.S. embassy or consulate.
The state department said it has officers working in more than 250 U.S. embassies and consulates around the world.

If vacationers are planning trips to destinations surrounding areas of recent violent unrest, they can check out the site's "Travel Warnings" tab," where the state department posts advisories about places it deems potentially dangerous for travel. It also details what guidance the U.S. government offers there.

The most recent advisories issued were on June 3 for Egypt, June 21 for Somalia and June 19 for Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. In the West Bank advisory, the department said the U.S. strongly advises against travel to the Gaza Strip. It also gives advice on traveling to metropolitan areas like Tel Aviv, where it says travelers should avoid large crowds.

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