We wanted you to be aware that yesterday the U.S. State Department advised citizens traveling throughout Europe to exercise vigilance in public places, be aware of their surroundings, be prepared for additional security screenings and unexpected disruptions and follow the instructions of local authorities in light of the large number of tourists visiting Europe this summer and several large events highlighted in the alert.

Specifically, the State Department advises U.S. citizens to:

  1. Exercise vigilance when in public places or using mass transportation.
  2. Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid crowded places.
  3. Follow the instructions of local authorities, especially in an emergency.
  4. Monitor media and local event information sources and factor updated information into your travel plans and activities.
  5. Be prepared for additional security screening and unexpected disruptions.
  6. Stay in touch with your family, have a plan if you are separated and ensure they know how to reach you in the event of an emergency.

The State Department issues Travel Alerts like the one yesterday for “short-term events we think you should know about when planning travel to a country. Examples of reasons for issuing a Travel Alert might include an election season that is bound to have many strikes, demonstrations, or disturbances; a health alert like an outbreak of H1N1; or evidence of an elevated risk of terrorist attacks. When these short-term events are over, we cancel the Travel Alert.”

In contrast, the State Department issues Travel Warnings when “we want you to consider very carefully whether you should go to a country at all. Examples of reasons for issuing a Travel Warning might include unstable government, civil war, ongoing intense crime or violence, or frequent terrorist attacks. We want you to know the risks of traveling to these places and to strongly consider not going to them at all. Travel Warnings remain in place until the situation changes; some have been in effect for years.”

The full content of yesterday’s State Department’s Travel Alert can be found Europe Travel Alert.