Hold on to your hats, boys and girls! This sounds like an exciting topic, doesn’t it? When preparing an exciting and life-changing adventure, one of the last things you want to bog yourself down with is looking into safety and international travel registration. Quite the buzzkill, no? It’s much more fun and entertaining to lose yourself in local reviews, blogs, and travel guides. But realistically, this topic is an important one. Especially if you, like me, find yourself being requested to leave a country for your own safety. In this instance you will thank God, Buddha, Allah, Oprah, the universe, or any other higher power you may believe in for the foresight of registering with the US State Department.
This came in handy personally when I found myself backpacking through Morocco and staying in Moroccan home housing (casa rurales) when the Moroccan terror alert suddenly rose to red and all Europeans and American were strongly advised to leave the country in the summer of 2007. The information we received allowed us to make educated decisions on the final leg of our travels and our best route for exit. Without it we would have been influenced by the speculation and paranoia being spread and may have missed out by leaving early due to misinformation.
Registering with the State Department is a preventative safety measure that provides the US government with an accurate account of how many of its citizens are in a particular country in times of an emergency. Examples include terrorist attacks, tsunamis, earthquakes, government coups, war, or any other emergency situation that can escalate or creep up out of nowhere.
Go to the US State Department’s traveler’s registration website and register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). It’s a free service and once you attain a log in and password it is easily updated as you go on new and exciting indelible adventures. Registration lets the government know what country or city you plan on spending your time in. It is not a homing device or an invitation for Big Brother to come along on your adventure.
So go ahead and register your plans. At the very least it will make you more informed and give your loved ones the knowledge that you are taking your safety seriously.