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eiffel tower paris Either we travelers should seriously be worried, or this is just another day in an unstable, unpredictable world. Yesterday, the State Department issued a travel alert for U.S. citizens visiting Europe in response to the threat of terrorist attacks from Al Qaeda. Travelers in Europe should “take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling,” cautions the State Department. Several international governments, including Japan and the U.K., have also issued warnings for travelers in Europe.

Although information detailing when and where the attacks might happen has been vague (to put it mildly), authorities have been clear about one thing: this is not a travel warning instructing citizens to cancel their travel plans. This is a less-severe travel alert, which means the State Department is simply telling people to be watchful and aware.

Travelers have been abuzz over the State Department’s ambiguous warning, which leaves much to the imagination. Short of staying home, what exactly can we do to protect ourselves when faced with an alert covering a vast continent? The State Department recommends that citizens visiting Europe register their travel plans with the U.S. Embassy (you can do so here); yet it provides no clear-cut instruction beyond this one tip.

Seeing that terrorist attacks — as well as theft, kidnapping and other crimes — take place every day around the world, smart travelers know to be on guard when touring public places. Is this warning really of any use to already vigilant vacationers?

When I’m standing in line at a popular international attraction, wedged into a plane seat or holding on to the ceiling bar on a crowded European bus, I’m continually conscious of two things: the location of my valuables (particularly my passport and wallet), and who and what is around me.

I keep my eyes open. I’m not traveling in Europe presently, but if I were, I don’t imagine I would change my behavior in response to this recent travel alert. How about you?

–written by Caroline Costello

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One Response to “That Europe Travel Alert: What’s a Road Worrier to Do?”

  1. I’m currently in Germany — and heading to England in a few days — so am hitting all angles (perhaps I should work in a trip to Paris?). I agree with the blog — I’m always conscious about who’s around me and try not to be too careless with my stuff. Nothing has changed for me at this point with this latest travel alert; I’m as cautious as ever.

    But I’ll tell you — if the state department comes up with some specific places to avoid, I’d be willing to make some adjustments then.


    Carolyn Spencer Brown
    Editor in Chief
    Cruise Critic

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