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Safety Precautions for World Travelers

By Wendi Williams, Editor & Extension Communications Specialist

a passportEveryone likes to get away from home every now and then, and travel, whether foreign or domestic, is now a trillion dollar industry (USTA, 2013). Regardless of whether you travel by car or plane, or during a specific season, here are some safety tips to make your trip or vacation more enjoyable.

Check the US State Department Website

On the rare occasion I travel abroad, one of the first places I look is the United States Department of State website. Not only does the State Department issue travel documents like passports and visas, but you can obtain other vital information. For example, you can learn what countries are unsafe for travel and whether a terrorist alert (short-term threat) or warning (long-term threat) has been issued. You can also find out about monetary currency rates or what vaccinations are needed prior to visiting a country.

Another service the State Department offers is the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program where you provide information to the State Department electronically in the event you need assistance while traveling abroad or while living in a foreign country.

In addition, the State Department has the Smart Traveler mobile app that was launched in June 2011. The app provides up-to-date information about international countries, including travel alerts and warnings, maps, and the location of American embassies. The Smart Traveler app is free and available at iTunes and Android stores.

Do Your Homework

Learn as much as you can about the country you plan to visit. Find out about a country’s customs; travel restrictions on everything from souvenirs to prescription drugs; how they treat international guests; the language that is typically spoken; and of course the location of the nearest hospital or United States Embassy. You don’t want to put yourself or your travel companions at risk without knowing these basic facts. Remember, what may be acceptable in the United States may be unacceptable in another country.

Electronic Devices

Consider purchasing storage cases that block radio-frequency identification (RFID). RFID involves reading personal data from RF-enabled cards like credit or debit cards, or government issued identification cards such as a driver’s license or even passports. This act is called wireless identity theft (Wikipedia, 2013).

Travelers need to also be concerned about using wireless electronic devices from public Wi-Fi locations. Like RFID, Wi-Fi involves the use of radio waves to obtain information. In this case, information is obtained over wireless high-speed Internet and network connections. When traveling abroad, you may be using an unsecured Wi-Fi network to access the Internet from your smartphone or other electronic devices (Gorodyansky, 2013).

Safety First

Travel has and will always be a desired and favorite past time for many people around the globe. Many countries, including the United States, rely on the revenue generated from foreign and domestic travelers. But unfortunately, we live in a world where crimes are committed daily against tourists. Therefore, when you make your travel plans, be sure to keep safety first on your mind!


Bonsor, K., & Fenlon, W. (n.d.). How RFID works.

Gorodyansky, D. (2013, May 28). Travelers beware: How mobile WiFi can be your best friend or worst enemy. Forbes.

Trotta, J. (2011, July 6). Wireless identity theft: A new era of fraud? Security Assurance.

United States Department of State. (n.d.). Tips for traveling abroad. International Travel.

United States passport. (2013, June 24). In Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia.

United States Travel Association. (2013, March). U.S. travel answer sheet.

Wireless identify theft. (2013, June 25). In Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia..