BROOKE’S TRAVEL TIPS: Register with the Embassy

I went to Kenya many moons ago, when Kenya was safe for tourists. Things have changed. Because of swings in politics and economies, it’s vital that you have access to international travel information when planning a trip abroad.

While certain destinations may be foolhardy to consider, most are generally safe. That said, some of the most beautiful places on Earth come with a bit of risk, requiring you to pragmatically consider your wellbeing.

BROOKE’S TRAVEL TIP #4: Register your international trip with STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program).

The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program is free service, provided by the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs. It is available to any U.S. citizen who is traveling to a foreign nation.

Basically you enter a few details about your upcoming trip and the system registers you with the U.S. embassy or consulate at your destination. The information, which is protected so it can’t be shared without written authorization, will serve you should trouble arise. If you face any emergency off U.S. soil, our government can provide help faster and more effectively. This includes lost or stolen passports, which can happen anywhere.

STEP also sends you automatic updates, travel warnings and alerts that may affect the country you will be visiting. This is especially important when you are heading off to places facing political fluctuations like, for example, Thailand.

I found out about STEP when I was planning my 2007 trip to Guatemala. It was to be my first solo venture into a developing nation and registering my dates, itinerary and emergency contacts—knowing I was “on the radar” so to speak—definitely helped put me at ease. The trip went smoothly, as they usually do, and I never needed any assistance, but I appreciated the insurance and I’ve utilized the service several times since.

Tomorrow is Friday and my last tip will be a recipe for a simple traveler’s breakfast.

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