The State Department is sending out a seasonal message of good cheer — and safe travel — to the millions of Americans who will travel internationally this holiday season.
Last December, according to National Tour and Travel Office data, nearly 8 million Americans traveled out of the country, making it the fourth-busiest month of the year. (The peak summer season swept the top spots.) To assist the traveling masses, the State Department has created a holiday checklist with the tagline: “Travel Smart. Travel Safe. Travel Well.”
The tips appear on the agency’s travel landing page and social media accounts. Among the suggestions: Familiarize yourself with your destination at travel.state.gov/destination; the country profiles include such essential information as “Safety and Security,” “Health” and “Travel and Transportation.” Notify your bank and credit card company about your upcoming trip. If you are carrying medications, consult with the embassy or consulate in your host country on whether they are legal. For example, the U.S. Embassy in Japan warns travelers that it is illegal to transport a number of over-the-counter medicines, such as select inhalers and allergy and sinus medications.
And of particular urgency this time of the year, stay alert in venues with large crowds, such as holiday markets, houses of worship and transportation hubs. The threats range from terrorism to pickpockets. For additional questions or concerns, reach out to the department via Twitter. If you ask, they will answer.
The department also encourages Americans to sign up for its Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, a free service that sends alerts and updates to members. Its Twitter account is also a good source of newsy bits, such as this recent tweet: “Demonstration Alert: March planned for December 8, and may continue in the coming weeks. The announced route is from Place de la Bastille to the Arc de Triomphe. Expected gathering points and routes include areas in the 1st, 4th, 8th, 16th, and 17th arrondissements.” U.S. citizens in France who enrolled in STEP received this message directly on their gadgets.