At the end of May, the US State Department issued a continent-wide travel alert for Americans heading to Europe this summer due to the risk of terrorist attacks.
While the alert doesn’t mean you shouldn’t travel to the continent, there are certain safety tips you should keep in mind.
“Throughout history, it is the larger public areas that get attacked because they want to achieve maximum impact,” said John Rose, aviation and terrorism expert and COO of travel risk management company, iJET.
According to Rose, transportation is one of the easiest targets for attacks because you have large groups of people coming in who are harder to remember and are less likely to spot unusual patterns.
Rose recommends that travellers avoid crowded cars when on the subway and that they consider the safety record and airports of their destinations.
“I would stick to American-based airlines or their partners because you know that they are flying with certain safety and security standards,” said Daniel Durazo, Director of Communications for Allianz Global Assistance USA.
Durazo also recommends avoiding connecting flights or stopovers in places that may have terrorism hotspots or other safety concerns. A travel agent can be a beneficial source when it comes to planning complex itineraries.
Because you want to avoid large crowds, Rose also suggests visiting tourist attractions at their off-peak hours instead of popular times.
Travellers should sign up for the US State Department’s Smart Traveller Enrollment Program (STEP), which provides information from the Embassy on safety conditions in your destination and helps both the US Embassy and your family or friends contact you in the case of an emergency.
You’ll also want to prepare before your trip with a briefing of where you’ll be going, the routes you’ll be taking while you’re there, and the safety and security protocols of the country.
Finally, both Durazo and Rose recommend stocking your phone with safety apps. Both iJET and Allianz have apps, with iJET’s Worldcue Mobile app
providing quick connection to global hotlines and the precise location of people at risk, and Allianz’s TravelSmart app giving information on numbers to dial in cases of emergencies and an international hospital search for the closest facilities.
Other apps include the SAIP app put out by the French government to provide real-time security alerts and emergency information ahead of the UEFA European Championship.
“The State Department puts these warnings and alerts out to educate people that there may be a potential situation in the continent, so you should still go on your trip but just be aware and have plan so that if something should happen, you’ll know what to do,” Durazo said.
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