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american flag usa stars and stripesBy now, most travelers are aware of the global travel alert released by the U.S. State Department in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death on Sunday. The alert, which expires August 1, 2011, advises U.S. citizens “in areas where recent events could cause anti-American violence … to limit their travel outside of their homes and hotels and avoid mass gatherings and demonstrations.” The State Department also recommends that travelers keep their eye on local news, stay in touch with family and friends at home, and enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which allows travelers to receive the latest updates and information from the government.

But just how worried should travelers be? Earlier today we checked in with Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor of our sister site CruiseCritic.com, to get a sense of whether anything has changed for travelers abroad. (Brown is currently traveling in the United Kingdom.)

“Certainly, people are talking about it, but at this point there’s no concrete confirmation of any [security] changes, and I don’t expect there to be quite yet,” Brown told us in an e-mail. “A lot depends on what [the U.S. government finds] in the intelligence, and there’s a feeling that there will be a backlash that could impact travel but it’s just too early to tell (by backlash I mean an attack somewhere in retaliation).”

It’s difficult, if not impossible, for ordinary travelers to predict where a potential terrorist attack might occur — and the State Department seems to be reinforcing that uncertainty by making its recent alert “worldwide.” But that doesn’t mean travelers are canceling their trips to huddle up under the bed at home.

IndependentTraveler.com’s managing editor, John Deiner, who’s cruising the Med this week aboard Carnival Magic, reported this morning that so far everything there is business as usual: “No one has said a thing about security on the ship! We were in Croatia yesterday, and it might as well been Miami … no one advised us to do anything differently.”

And @AnjaniLadki told us on Twitter that she’s not planning to make any changes to how she travels: “Being cautious, alert and applying common sense ought to do it. [The] rest is up to fate! Not doing anything different than I would’ve a week ago.”

Facebook user Lora W.M. summed it up most succinctly: “[Terrorists] will never scare me enough to stop doing what I love.”

We advise readers planning overseas trips to take a look at any government warnings or alerts that apply specifically to the destination they’re visiting, and to enroll in the State Department’s STEP program to stay abreast of current news. For more useful tips on staying safe abroad, as well as links to travel alerts from other governments besides the U.S., see our story on Travel Warnings and Advisories.

– written by Sarah Schlichter

3 Responses to “How Will Osama bin Laden’s Death Affect Travelers?”

  1. Chet says:

    In my opinion the travel warnings are just what they are warnings.
    you shouldn’t change any plans in your travel but do need to pay attention to areas that may be effected. Check into purchasing some travel insurance if concerned about an area you are traveling toward to take care of flight cancellations and tour cancellations that may effect your trip.Otherwise just watch the .gov travel warning sites and pay attention. This in my opinion is something no one person can do anything about so plan your trip and have a good time.

  2. Deanna says:

    I’m very concerned, about retaliation. Especially that I’m the one who likes to travel and my 13 year old comes along to be with me. We have our yearly trip coming up in September this year to Florida and though I haven’t changed anything. I won’t say it didn’t cross my mind.

  3. J Taft says:

    The closer I look into the extended measures T.S.A is going thew I feel more and more at ease with going about my everyday travel. I also just became a member @ Good Day Vacations so I will be using the air ways even more then before..

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