Traveling abroad this summer? Be smart -- and safe

Updated: Jun 12, 2017 12:00 PM
(Source: Maksym Yemelyanov via 123RF) (Source: Maksym Yemelyanov via 123RF)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Let’s be frank. Aren’t you a bit uneasy about planning that vacation to Europe this summer? You may even be asking if, what with everything going on in the world these days, shouldn’t we just stay home and hide under a blanket until it’s all over?

Two words -- heck no!

Those dramatic “you’re far more likely to be struck by lightning than (insert dire event here)” sayings have been around a long time, and while some may find them comforting – or alarming – they do illustrate an important point. Recent shocking events in the UK and elsewhere aside, your chances of being injured in an act of terrorism are extremely remote. That’s not to say you should jump on that plane, or board that ship, without doing a little leg work, but if you let fear of the unknown keep you home this summer, you may miss out on the trip of a lifetime.  

When planning your next big adventure, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Enroll your trip in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, or STEP.

Their motto is “Stay Informed, Stay Connected, Stay Safe” – and it’s free! Just go to www.state.gov, and click on the Passports link (under the Quick Links section on the right side of the page) to see the STEP page. You’ll receive the latest safety information for your destination country, and help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether a natural disaster, family emergency, or security issue. It’s peace of mind for you, the traveler, and for your loved ones back home. 

Social media tools

Facebook and Google both offer check-in tools, which can go a long way toward letting your friends and family know you’re okay in the event of trouble nearby. Facebook activated their Safety Check feature after the events in both Manchester and London. In case of trouble in your vacation destination, this tool will let your Facebook friends know you’re okay. Google’s Person Finder is another option where you can post your status or search for travelers.

Don’t forget travel insurance

You’ll want to read the fine print, but most policies will reimburse you for nonrefundable travel expenses if you need to change your plans due to unrest in your vacation destination. You might even consider a “cancel for any reason” policy. Another benefit – travel insurance companies usually offer a 24/7 helpline, which could be invaluable in the event you need rebook flights or accommodations quickly.

Be vigilant

A little common sense goes a long way in all situations and in all destinations. Practice your “situational awareness,” particularly in large crowds, at concerts or sporting events, and when using public transportation. 

Don’t be “that” traveler

Sadly, the phrase “ugly American” exists for a reason, so try your best to look more like a local and blend in with the crowd. Leave your expensive jewelry and flashy tech toys at home, practice some common phrases in the local language (even “please” and “thank you” go a long way), and above all – be polite.  You’re a guest in their home.


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Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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