Millions of people travel abroad each year with no difficulty. They see sights they may have only dreamed of and then return happily home, crossing another item off their bucket list.
Study abroad students are the same. They travel, study, learn, and then return home the better for their experiences. The vast majority travel without incident except for the occasional mischief or perhaps a broken heart.
But trouble can find any traveler no matter how safe their location. And as with any adventure, it’s best to be prepared for any kind of circumstance.
That’s why the United States State Department and the Bureau of Consular Affairs recommends all citizens traveling to, or living in, another country register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, or STEP. The program was previously known as Registration with Embassies but recently changed to encourage more travelers to register. And it does sound more inviting, doesn’t it?
The STEP website allows travelers to enter information about any upcoming trip to ensure the Department of State can help in case of an emergency.
An emergency can be anything from a natural disaster, an accident, illness or other health emergency, family concerns or unrest within the destination country.
But it’s not just emergencies that can bring you to a consular’s office. They also help with absentee voting, receiving federal benefits or even US tax forms. And if you found your destination particularly romantic consular offices can register American children born abroad.
There are US consular offices at more than 260 Foreign Service posts along with 46 foreign cities that don’t actually have embassies or consulates. All offices can assist travelers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with anything a US citizen might need.
Conexus International recommends any international traveler register with the STEP program, and know where your consular office or US embassy is located when you arrive.