If you are planning to travel outside the United States, staying informed about health or political situations at your destination can make the difference between a great trip and great hardship. There are a number of services you can take advantage of to get the latest information to help you when you are planning your trip or getting close to your departure date.
The U.S. Department of State posts travel warnings and alerts on its website. A travel warning is issued when a country is experiencing conditions that are likely to result in a long-term dangerous or unstable situation for travelers. The travel warning is also used when the U.S. embassy or consulate is forced to close or reduce its operations, thus making it less able to assist American visitors to the area.
Travel alerts are issued to advise potential visitors of conditions in a country or region that, on at least a short-term basis, may affect the health or safety of travelers. Situations such as natural disasters, political upheaval, or terrorist activity may trigger a travel alert. A high profile international event such as a summit or sporting contest might also lead to a travel alert if its activities are likely to lead to protests or a restriction in movement in the area.
You can also find country specific information for every country in the world. You can learn where U.S. embassies or consulates are located, what visa requirements exist, general information about medical or health care conditions, and details about the levels of crime and security at your potential destination.
If you wish, you can sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. The agency will send you information about the country or countries where you tell them you will be visiting or living. By entering travel or contact information as part of your registration, you give the agency a way to send updates as soon as they are available and to contact you if an unexpected situation occurs while you are traveling.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer information for travelers about health issues at more than 200 worldwide destinations. You can also find out about required and recommended inoculations to protect you from known health risks in certain parts of the world. Read guidance about how to assure that you are consuming safe food and water while you are abroad.
In these days of global information, it makes sense to take advantage of all the data you can to make your travels the source of only wonderful memories.