Did you know that US citizens can get emergency alerts while traveling abroad through a US State Department program? It’s called the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) and is a great way to stay aware of your surroundings when traveling!

STEP is a free service offered by the United States State Department. The program allows you to enter your travel itinerary in order to receive alerts and warnings of any risks or emergencies in your travel destinations.

The program is designed for US citizens traveling abroad and allows embassy staff to proactively contact you in the event of an emergency.

Enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program

Enrolling is extremely easy. All you have to do is visit the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) website.

Once there, you’ll want to enter the following information:

  • Personal information, like your name and birthdate
  • Contact information while traveling, like an email or mobile phone number
  • Passport details
  • Emergency contact info (for someone who is not traveling with you)
  • Itinerary information, like arrival dates, airports, etc.
  • Travel information

That’s all it takes to register for the program!

Using the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program

When I traveled to Cambodia in the summer of 2016, I received an alert that there was a political assassination in Phnom Penh, the capital of the country. It advised travelers to be cautious of protests in the city and provided local contact numbers to the US embassy.

The alerts also include adverse weather conditions. This was useful when visiting the southern tip of the country. It gave me peace of mind knowing that I was in the loop of potential risks.

The STEP program can also be used to monitor activity in other countries, for example where family members are located. All you have to do is register your email and the country to receive alerts and warnings.

Privacy Concerns

Some of you may feel uncomfortable with sharing your information with the government. I personally don’t have any issues with it. For one, the government already logs my information every time I leave or enter the country. Plus, I feel like the benefits highly outweigh the risk of privacy, especially if there is an emergency and I need help from the embassy.

Have you used STEP during your travels? If so, please share your experience in the comment section below.

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