Before traveling overseas, you should always check whether there are any travel advisory warnings in place. Level 4 has the highest risk factor and is indicated in red as “Do Not Travel,” Level 3 is “Reconsider Travel,” while Level 2 is indicated as “Exercise Increased Caution.” A Level 1 country is considered safe.
So what happens if you need to visit a destination on the higher end of the scale? Travel may still be possible, but you should be aware of the specific type of danger you may be faced with. Before boarding a plane, these are the questions you should consider.
Do you really need to travel?
These warnings should be taken seriously, especially in those countries that are the highest risk. If there is an emergency, it may be difficult for the government to retrieve you. Possible risks may include natural disasters, terrorism, violence, crime, kidnapping and medical outbreaks.
If possible, try to reschedule your trip or choose a safer destination. Sometimes it may only be specific cities that are affected by these warnings. The advisory has detailed information to help make this decision an easier one.
Do you have life insurance?
Life insurance is something everyone should consider, regardless of whether or not they are traveling. For those who are preparing to go overseas, think about pairing this with travel insurance. If you have no choice but to visit a country on the State Department’s travel warning list, the worst-case scenario could be death. Life insurance offers financial security to your family, and ensures they are not left in debt if the worst does happen.
Are you registered With the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program?
The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is something all travelers should sign up for. If there is an emergency, the US embassy will be able to contact you and give information to your family. The program will alert you to any safety changes in your chosen destination, as situations can escalate quickly.
Are you vaccinated?
Sometimes there may be diseases that are prevalent in specific countries, and it is important to be aware of these. The travel advisory will show a list of flagged vaccines and epidemic diseases. For example, travelers heading to Africa will need to be wary of Yellow Fever.
Before traveling, you should make an appointment with your doctor to discuss any medications and vaccines that may be available. Remember, not all outbreaks will have a current vaccination or cure, and this may be a risk you are not willing to take.
Does someone know your itinerary?
Give a detailed copy of your itinerary to someone close to you. If possible, check in regularly so they know you are safe.
You may also leave some money at home so it can be wired to you in case your purse is lost or stolen. Being prepared, informed and organized will increase the likelihood of a successful trip.
Being prepared is key to keeping safe overseas
Planning to travel somewhere on the State Department’s warning list? Before you leave, make sure you understand the risks. Visit your doctor for any relevant vaccines, take out a life insurance policy and register with STEP.
Warnings can change quickly, as often emergencies occur with little notice. Take precautions, and learn as much as possible about the environment you may be entering into.