Travel Alert Issued for Europe – Seven Safety Tips You Should Know

UPDATE: Many news organizations are reporting that the travel alert is apparently having little impact on travelers; Reuters, for example, reports that “major U.S. airlines said their flights and schedules have been unaffected”.

Travel Alert – Europe

The U.S. State Department issued an unusual “Travel Alert” for Europe over the weekend, citing the potential for terrorist attacks there. Britain and Japan have issued similar travel warnings.

Latest Media Reports is reporting that possible targets include at least five major European airports, though it should be noted that the reporter does not name any of them; the report simply cites a “law enforcement official”.

Don’t Panic

Does this mean something bad is going to happen? No. Could something happen? That’s always a possibility, anywhere. Should travelers in Europe be extra-alert? Yes.

U.S. State Dept. Alert Information

Here’s the latest from the State Department for travelers in Europe:

“U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure. Terrorists have targeted and attacked subway and rail systems, as well as aviation and maritime services. U.S. citizens should take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling.” U.S. State Dept. 10-4-10

The Big Question

And here is a question some of you out there may be asking yourself: Should I go to Europe? Only you can answer that. My editor tells me that over the weekend, she saw a TV news report in which a passenger at LAX said, “I’m going ahead with my trip; they’re not going to stop me.” But again, that can only be your decision.

Safety Tips from the State Dept.

However, maybe this can help you decide. What follows are some good common sense travel safety tips from the U.S. government which may, as the site says, “help you avoid becoming a target of opportunity”. More details on the tips below are available this all-around excellent travel resource, Travel.State.Gov).

Tips Before You Travel

Haven’t left yet? Take a moment to look at these tips:

1. Register your trip with the State Dept.Registering your travel plans is simple, and let friends and family in on your itinerary as well; plus, fill in the “emergency contact” space on your passport.

2. Make sure you have embassy/consulate contacts – Check with Travel.State.Gov where you’ll find phone numbers and addresses for the countries you’ll be traveling in.

3. Schedule direct flights – The State Dept. suggests you avoid unnecessary stops in possibly high-risk areas.

Tips While Traveling

Tips to follow when you’re in-country:

4. Minimize time in the public areas of airports – This is where using a carryon bag would be ideal, since it gets you out of the airport quickly.

5. Refuse unexpected visitors or packages – Don’t open your hotel door to strangers; good advice no matter where or when you travel.

6. Avoid “obvious terrorist targets” – The State Dept. cites “places where Westerners are known to congregate” which won’t be easy, I imagine, since most travelers expect to visit a country’s popular tourist attractions, but perhaps you could visit during off-peak hours.

7. Report anything suspicious – Whether it’s an unattended bag at the airport or something else, report to authorities immediately and then leave the area.

I frequently sign off my various missives by saying, “Safe Travels” – and it’s not just a phrase with me, not now – not ever. Safe travels.


Published: October 4, 2010