With summer upon us, more people will be traveling to destinations in Europe and beyond. But before you go, take the following measures to help prevent becoming a victim of a terrorist or criminal attack.
Get permission to go
The U.S. Department of State issues travel warnings when conditions make a country dangerous or unstable, leading the State Department to recommend that Americans avoid or consider the risk of travel to that country. Traveling to a country under a travel warning requires approval from an O6.
The State Department issues travel alerts for countries or regions where there are significant risks to the security of U.S. citizens. Traveling to a country under a travel alert requires that a traveler be counseled by his or her commander or field grade staff officer.
The Defense Department lists the travel regulations and restrictions for virtually every country around the world in its Electronic Foreign Clearance Guide, found at https://www.fcg.pentagon.mil/fcg.cfm.
All Defense Department and DOD-sponsored travelers must ensure that they comply with the guide.
Learn about the country
Beside travel warnings and alerts, www.travel.state.gov, the State Department’s website, offers a great deal of information on your country of choice.
The “Threats to Safety and Security” and “Crime” sections provide critical information of the most common crimes and hazards in that country. They also provide basic information on terrorist activity and how to avoid it.
You can also enter your travel information into the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, thereby notifying the nearest U.S. embassy of your travel plans. In turn, you will receive safety and security announcements.
Be ready for emergencies
Make sure you know the emergency phone number for the country where you’re traveling. In the European Union, 112 is the emergency number.
Get the addresses for hospitals, police stations, and U.S. consulates or embassies in the area that you will be traveling in. Keep the information in your pocket, preferably separate from your wallet.
At a minimum, ensure that you bring a GPS system that will allow you to quickly search for these locations.
Pay attention to your surroundings, particularly on public transportation and at tourist attractions.
Historically, train stations, airports, buses and tourist attractions are targets for IEDs and active shooter attacks. Avoid abandoned bags, purses, and boxes near large crowds, and notify local authorities if you notice any.
Pay attention to out-of-place people on the outskirts of a crowd, particularly if two or more people are maintaining eye contact while on opposite sides of the crowd. They could be planning a shooting attack or selecting a mark for pickpocketing.
People who are overly dressed could be hiding weapons or bombs underneath their clothes. Those who appear to be in a trance or praying to themselves may be about to conduct a suicide attack.
While all this information may seem a little frightening, ignoring the possibility that an attack could occur won’t lessen your chances of being a victim. Using these steps to prepare will.
For more information, visit www.travel.state.gov. Online antiterrorism training is available at https://atlevel1.dtic.mil/at.