We’ve written in the past about things you should do before you go out of town:
- Stuff you should and shouldn’t bring with you
- How to notify USPS, UPS, FedEx and Amazon to put a hold on anything you would receive while you’re away
- What medications you should bring with you when flying
- How to prepare for airport security when flying with these and other medications
- Ten miscellaneous things you might otherwise forget to do
All of those would hold true for any sort of travel. However, there’s one more thing you may want to consider specifically if you’re traveling out of the country…
Enroll in STEP.
STEP stands for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program and it’s a free service offered by the U.S. Department of State that allows U.S. citizens to receive the latest security updates from the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if they’re living or traveling abroad.
One benefit of STEP is that you’ll be able to receive security and safety information about your destination country so you can make informed decisions about your travel. Being enrolled in STEP also allows the U.S. embassy or consulate to contact you in the event of an emergency such as natural disaster, civil unrest or family emergency. Being enrolled in the STEP program can also help family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.
As per the U.S. State Dept’s website, once you have an account, it can be used every time you travel overseas so you’ll be able to stay informed about:
- Alerts from the U.S. Embassy about safety and security situations.
- Updates to the country’s Travel Advisory.
- Messages about U.S. embassy events and services, such as town hall meetings, voting information, federal benefits, and U.S. citizens’ legal obligations (taxes, selective service registration, etc.).
You can begin the signup process on this page. The information they ask of you is simple and basic, including username, password, your general name/DOB/email/phone number/passport number, emergency contact information, and make up a security question and its answer.
From a personal POV, I suppose if you’re going somewhere where U.S. citizens would normally feel safe, such as Canada or Germany you might not want to sign up. But you never know when a disaster might happen in or near the place you’re visiting, so I’m one of a “better safe than sorry” attitude. I don’t know if this poor guy was enrolled in STEP or not, but if he wasn’t, perhaps things would have been different if he had been, y’know?
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary