Wondering how the new Europe Travel Alert is going to affect your travel plans? Find out about the Travel Alert and how we are approaching European travel for families.
What is the Europe Travel Alert?
On May 1st, the U.S. Government issued a formal Travel Alert across all of Europe. You can find the alert on the U.S. Passports and International Website or by clicking here – Europe Travel Alert. For us, anytime this happens it can be a little scary and to be frank, the world we live in can be FLAT OUT SCARY! Before we even get started, we want to point out we are not political analysts and no one in our group is an expert in terrorism. We can only express our opinions and share how this new alert changes our travel plans. To reiterate we are NOT experts!
Instead, we are a family who loves to travel and explore the world. Our traveling family has a big trip to the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Hungary planned this summer and all of these locations fall under the new Travel Alert. And…we are still going. All of us.
Travel Warnings vs. Travel Alerts
The U.S. Department of State has two different types of formal travel advisories. One is classified as a “Travel Warning” and the other is a “ Travel Alert”. Travel Warnings are issued when the Department of State requests travelers to consider even going to a location. For example; Syria currently (at the time of writing) has a formal Travel Warning. So far, we have not been to a country that has a current warning. We know some people who have and they were just fine. For us, in our current situation, we try to avoid these places while an official warning is in effect.
Alerts, on the other hand, are short term advisories issued when the Department of State wants travelers to be aware of possible dangers when planning a trip (i.e. The current Europe Travel Alert). See the official classifications from the U.S. Passports and International Website – Travel Alerts and Warnings.
While We Are Still Going Even With the Europe Travel Alert
We have had several people ask us why we don’t just change our plans and go somewhere else. (Our grandfather being one of them haha – bless his heart! He sometimes thinks we are crazy galavanting around the world like we do.) Of course we would rather travel places that do not have a travel advisory, but unfortunately, these places are becoming few and far between.
Between Zika, political unrest, terrorism, and communicable diseases there is CRAZY crap happening all over the world. Anything can happen anywhere. We want to be safe, we want to be aware, but we also don’t want to stay at home and live in fear. We have weighed the risks and read and re-read the advisory. Yes, something could potentially happen while we are traveling in Europe (this, of course, could be catastrophic) but these events can happen in a local movie theater or in our schools.
When Sav lived in N.Y.C. the “see something, say something” program was really in full effect and we have adopted that mentality. If we see something that we find fishy (no matter where we are) we reach out and say something.
Our Experience Traveling to Locations with Travel Advisories
Last spring following the horrible attack in Brussels on March 22nd, we were scheduled to travel to Rome on the 31st (only 9 days later). We sat down as a group, read the statements issued by the U.S. Department of State and weighed out the pros and cons. In the end, we decided to go. When we arrived in Rome there was a huge security presence everywhere, but we were so thankful for it. Honestly, we had the BEST time and not once did we feel unsafe or threatened.
Security Measures We Will Practice this Summer
- Enroll everyone in the U.S. Step Program. You can enroll here U.S. Department of State – Smart. Traveller. Enrollment. Program. (https://step.state.gov/step/)
- Put together an emergency plan. We want to be prepared if something were to happen. Covered in this plan is how we will communicate with our loved ones back home (should the need arise) to let them know if we are okay or if we are in trouble.
- Have the numbers for local authorities in each city in which we will be staying as well as the addresses and phone numbers for each U.S. Embassy in those areas.
- Leave a copy of our itinerary with our loved ones at home so they will always know where we will be.
- Make sure we are caught up on First Aid training and be sure to carry our First Aid Kit.
- Welcome and be prepared for longer security lines everywhere we visit.
In our opinion, everyone needs to decide what works for them. If a family decides not to travel to Europe then they have every right to do so. In the end, we believe that the majority of people only want their families to be happy and safe. For us, we are going to be aware, be mindful, and try to safely explore and experience every place that we reasonably can and try to not let the threat of terrorism dictate our life.
The Smith Fam