"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page." -- St. Augustine Are you planning to travel or study abroad in 2013? Traveling or studying abroad is a great way to expand your horizons, but before you go, there are a few things you can do to make your travels fun and safe. The Department of State has come up with list of five important travel tips for you. 1. Download the free "Smart Traveler" App for iPhones or Android. The App gives you consular information on every country in the world including the address of U.S. Embassies and Consulates. It also provides the latest Travel Warnings and Alerts. And through the App you can access your enrollment on STEP. 2. Sign up for and let us know your travel plans through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), a free online service, so that we can better assist you in an emergency. Be sure to include an e-mail address and/or phone number where you can be contacted while traveling. This will help us contact you if there is a family emergency in the United States or if there is a crisis where you are traveling. Once signed up, you will automatically receive the most current consular information about the country where you will be traveling or living. These notifications will be sent directly to your laptop, tablet, or smartphone (iOS 4.0 or later for Apple devices). You can access STEP through the Smart Traveler App or any mobile device, laptop or desktop at STEP.State.Gov. 3. Familiarize yourself with local conditions. Find out where to go and where to avoid. Learn what visas you need to enter -- and to leave. Learn how to travel safely in-country and how to stay healthy. Learn about the local laws - while in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws. Check out all this useful safety and other information about the countries you will visit at travel.state.gov and studentsabroad.state.gov. 4. Check your overseas medical insurance coverage: Ask your medical insurance company if your policy applies overseas and if it covers emergency expenses such as medical evacuation. If it does not, consider supplemental insurance. Foreign medical treatment and evacuations can be extremely expensive, if not covered by your insurance. 5. Take precautions to avoid being a target of crime: Do not wear conspicuous clothing or jewelry and do not carry excessive amounts of money. Also, do not leave unattended luggage in public areas and do not accept packages from strangers. You can view other useful travel tips and view visa requirements for any country at http://travel.state.gov. And remember to share your travel plans with a family member and/or trusted friend who is not traveling with you. Have a safe and enjoyable trip! Follow @TravelGov on Twitter, become a fan of the Bureau of Consular Affairs on Facebook, and check out our YouTube playlist Passports, Visas, and Travel!
Paula Williams serves in the Bureau of Consular Affairs.