Stay safe when traveling abroad

Tuesday - 5/10/2011, 12:38pm EDT

If you're planning a trip abroad, you should either call the State Department's travel advisory service or visit its website.

The department can tell you what Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts are issued for various destinations. Travel Warnings are issued when long-term, protracted conditions make a country dangerous or unstable. Travel Alerts are issued to disseminate information about short-term conditions that pose significant risks to the security of U.S. citizens.

The website tells you about passport and visa requirements and provides up-to-the-minute information on safety issues, including terrorist activity. It also makes recommendations about whether you should take valuables with you and warns about driving in rural areas in some countries.

The department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program will make it easier to contact you in case of an emergency, as well as facilitate replacement of a lost or stolen passport.

You can reach the State Department by calling (888) 407-4747 or going to this website. Check out the information before you check your luggage.

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