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What does a travel alert mean?

It was unenviable. The US State Department has issued a worldwide travel alert to all U.S. citizens traveling abroad. Those who aren’t from the U.S., but are also traveling abroad, are encouraged to be on high alert. The advisory comes less than 2 weeks after the terrorist attacks in Paris and Mali. This also comes just ahead of the busy travel season. Does this travel alert mean you should cancel your holiday travel plans? Of-course not. Pack your bags and be sure to bring a camera and money for souvenirs. Your trip to your vacation homeexchange will be amazing. I promise! And let me know how your trip went so I can write about it in the future.

Here’s the thing about a travel alert of this nature: it’s common and it is typically not based on credible intelligence regarding any specific threat. Generally in the weeks following an actual attack (such as the one in Paris), surveillance is high and travel alerts are typically issued. In fact, we’ve seen several travel alerts prior to this one. It is honestly a new normal for travelers.

So what does a travel alert mean for you? Here are a few things to consider:

The trip through the security line at the airport will likely take a little longer. Security authorities will be implementing extra security measures, so be sure to arrive at the airport a little early.

You should expect to see more police presence on trains and buses. If you are concerned about using mass transit in a large city, then consider hiring a taxi or renting a car.

If you are traveling overseas, be aware of your surroundings. You may want to avoid large crowds or crowded places, such as stadiums and malls.

Monitor media and other local sources of information for the latest on any threats of terrorism. There are also a number of websites that will have updated information. These websites are listed below.

There is safety in numbers. When I travel, I am not worried about any potential of terrorist attacks. I am, however, worried about pick-pocketers and those who will take advantage of tourists. One-way to not become a victim is to simply travel with a group of people. In other words, don’t walk around the street alone, or at night.

Notify your embassy of your travel plans. It doesn’t hurt to let your embassy know where you are staying and how long you plan to be in the country.

And be sure to utilize the travel coordinators with International Vacation Home Exchange. These individuals will answer any questions or concerns that you may have about security with your vacation home exchange.

Your upcoming vacation will be amazing. Don’t let recent events stand in the way of a memorable trip. If you are really worried, then it is okay to postpone or cancel your trip. Maybe instead of traveling abroad, you travel to a new city in your own country. And if you do, be sure to check out a list of vacation home exchanges that may be nearby.

Happy travels wherever your destination may be!

Thanks to travel writer Carla Pruitt. You can follow Carla on Twitter at @crobscarla


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