Plane tickets? Check. Passport? Check. Registered with STEP? Say what?
If you’re traveling internationally, the Smart Travelers Enrollment Program (STEP) is something you should know about. But we’ll admit that even as Independent Travel Agents (ITAs), until recently we weren’t aware this free U.S. Department of State travel advisory program existed either. However, now we would suggest any U.S. citizens traveling internationally check out this site before leaving the country.
STEP is a free program that allows U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their stay with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Why would you want to do this? For several important reasons.
To begin with, once you enroll your trip, the Embassy will alert you about important information concerning safety conditions in your destination country. In this day and age when everything is topsy-turvy, it’s important to know what’s going on before you end up flying into an unsettled situation you weren’t anticipating.
Also, by registering, you’ll make it such that the U.S. Embassy has the information necessary to contact you if there is an emergency while you’re traveling—whether that looks like a natural disaster, civil unrest, or a serious family emergency.
Plus, registering for STEP will also make it easier for friends and family to get in touch with you in a foreign country if something goes wrong. If they know you’ve registered your trip, they can contact the U.S. Embassy and reference that so they can get you a message or help more rapidly.
For people who frequently travel internationally, there is also a section on the STEP website where you can create a “Frequent Traveler” account so you don’t have to re-enter all your personal info for every trip but can instead simply add your next destination before take-off.
Finally, for individuals who are not traveling but wish to monitor the conditions overseas, you can sign up for travel advisories from specific countries as soon as they’re posted on travel.state.gov directly from the STEP website.
All that to say, international travel is one of the best and most eye-opening and expanding experiences a person can enjoy in this life. But, it’s also a good move to be smart about it. Taking this one little extra STEP and registering your trip will help make sure that when you’re ready to take the world by storm, someone “official” knows where you’re going so you’re also protected as a U.S. citizen abroad.
Visit the STEP site here: https://step.state.gov/