Keeping abreast of health, safety and security events overseas is challenging. Most news comes in a 24-hour cycle.  The news may or may not align with what you need or want to know to make informed decisions about traveling abroad. Google alerts can be useful, sometimes.

The Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) is a resource every global traveler should become intimate with.  OSAC is led by an Executive Council of private sector organizations and the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, under the U.S. Department of State.  Information is published about crime, terrorism, contingency planning, and information security. OSAC has a wealth of information by country and for some major cities.  

What to look for

OSAC publishes crime and safety reports which include ratings of the overall severity of categories of crime within the city or country.  Here is an example from Sydney, Australia, of the types of information available via OSAC’s Crime Report:

  • Transportation safety – aviation, road conditions and ground services
  • Terrorism threats
  • Political, economic, religious and ethnic violence
  • Environmental hazards
  • Privacy threats
  • Drug related crimes
  • Kidnapping threat
  • Police response
  • Medical emergencies – hospital recommendations
  • Air ambulance services
  • Travel insurance recommendations
  • U.S. Consulate address and contact information
  • Tips on victim avoidance

Department of State warnings and alerts

A Department of State travel alert or warning strongly advises consumers to consider safety first.  A warning generally means United States employees have restrictions.  The United States government is strongly advising you to consider not traveling to the country at all.  You can find reports specific to your destination on travel.state.gov by entering the country in the blank field.   You will also discover general reports on ongoing threats, like hurricane and typhoon season in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico.  

The State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program has a “stay at home” alert option. It is very useful when you are considering business, academic, vacation or leisure travel. The State Department will send you valuable updates on alerts on country specific health and safety issues.  

Once you have booked your trip, it is always a good idea to register at step.state.gov.  Your United States consulate can’t help if they don’t know where you are.

Global concerns

Global concerns are published in OSAC content reports including regime changes, civil unrest, protests, crime sprees like fraud, homicide and others. These entries provide an overview and analysis of world events from private and government key sectors, whose people are in the country.

People the world over are enticed into countries far away where they have never been with no consumer safety pre-purchase warnings.  Depart Smart inspires, develops and transforms travelers into people who make informed decisions before, during and after traveling abroad to avoid risks, get help, return home safely, and report to help protect others.  Your financial support helps us help you Depart Smart, and continues our lifesaving work.