Did you know about the STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) Service?
Few travelers are aware of an impressive program offered by the US Department of State that allows you to receive notifications of potential dangers when traveling abroad.
The service is completely free (you can sign up here), and essentially you register the destinations where you’re traveling to and the Bureau of Consulate Affairs, part of the State Department, will send you notifications, including warnings and alerts, when applicable. The service even makes it easier for family members back home to get in touch with you should an emergency arise.
You’ll need to provide some pertinent information, such as your name, contact info and passport number, but in exchange you won’t have to rely on local newscasts, if available, in the regions you’re visiting but instead get personally tailored information most relevant to your particular trip.
A more succinct service, still provided by the State Department, allows you to simply choose your destination and provide your name and email address, to subscribe to a more generalized “newsletter” that is emailed to you in the event there is an emergency in the country you’re visiting. That can be found here.
Not a US citizen? While the STEP program is specifically for American citizens, the newsletter can be signed up for by anyone with an email address, or other services are available, such as Facebook’s Safety Check or their Crisis Response page.
For those concerned about providing their private information to the US government, it should be noted that their policy is not to share your information with any third parties (aside from family members to which you give permission.)