Preparation for traveling abroad is the one thing that can almost certainly determine whether or not you have a rewarding travel experience. The following suggestion will ensure that you are prepared for your academic sojourn: RESEARCH your travel destination or destinations!
Before you go, it's always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country you're visiting. There are a variety of places where you can learn about your travel destination or destinations. While most probably travelers will glean country specific information from travel materials such as Lonely Planet, Let's Go, Rough Guide and others, it is important to note there are other information resources available.
One such resource is the U.S. Department of State. The Department provides country specific information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, any areas of instability, and the location of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in that country (Country Specific Information - State Department).
In addition to country specific information, the State Department also issues Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts. Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid a certain country and Travel Alerts are issued to inform travelers of possible terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions that pose significant risk or disruptions to Americans. Both the Warnings and Alerts may be received via email or viewed on the State Department's website. Both are good sources for information as you plan your travel and while you are abroad. Information on Travel Warnings may be found at: State Department Travel Warnings and information on Travel Alerts may be found at: State Department Travel Alerts.
Another resource that is available to you for researching your travel destination or destinations is the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The CIA publishes a World Fact Book that provides information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 266 world entities. For more information, please see: The CIA World Fact Book.
The State Department Smart Traveler Enrollment Program
Millions of Americans travel abroad every year and encounter no difficulties. However, U.S. embassies and consulates assist nearly 200,000 Americans each year who are victims of crime, accident or illness, or whose family and friends need to contact them in an emergency. When an emergency happens, or if a natural disaster, terrorism, or civil unrest strikes during your foreign travel, the nearest U.S, embassy or consulate can be your source of assistance and information. By registering your trip, you will help the embassy or consulate in locating you when you might need them the most. Registration is voluntary and costs nothing, but it should be a big part of your travel planning and security.
If you’re planning to travel abroad, the University of Scranton asks you to register your travel with the Department of State. No, this isn’t Big Brother tracking you. Travel registration makes it possible to contact you if necessary, whether there’s a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in the country you are visiting.
Please feel free to contact us with any questions you might have regarding the registration of your travel. For more information on Travel Registration and how to register please go to: State Department Smart Traveler Enrollment Program