Traveling in Europe may seem riskier in the light of the worldwide alert that was issued by the U.S. state Department last week, which cautioned a possible risk to travelers from the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and other terrorist groups. The warning stated that the groups are planning terrorist attacks in multiple regions.
“Statistically, car accidents and illnesses are still the greatest threats to travelers — not terrorism,” says Scott Hume, the associate director for security operations at Global Rescue – a travel risk and crisis management firm.
However, experts are still saying that you should be paying closer attention to the news before and during your trip. At times of heightened security alerts like now, travelers should review the State Departments Alerts and Warnings page. To take security one step forward, sign up for the government’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Plan (STEP) that will let the government track and warn you about any potential dangers.
Do you know what your travel insurance covers? It doesn’t always cover terrorist attacks so check to make sure before purchasing a new policy. Some of them will let you cancel and receive a refund, but the incident has to happen within a specified time period and close enough to the place that you are planning to visit.
For example, Brussels was recently under a high terror alert and even though no terrorist attacks have occurred, travelers with plans to visit are still eligible to purchase travel insurance with terrorism coverage. However, you can’t buy travel insurance now and then expect to cancel existing reservations on the basis of the November attacks – only future attacks.
Once again, it is extremely unlikely for you will be injured in a terrorist attack, but knowing that you are covered in the worst case scenario will help you have a peace of mind before your trip. However, something else that you can organize with your party is a safe haven outside of your hotel – somewhere else that you can meet them if the hotel is too far. Restaurants usually have landlines so you can make phone calls if cell service is disruptive. Make sure that everyone in your party knows the address and even stop by it when you first arrive to the city so everybody will remember it.
Airline policies can vary in a terrorist attack. After the attacks in France, American Airlines, Delta Airlines and United Airlines waived some change fees for a limited time, but did not offer refunds except for canceled flights. There is not any say that they will waive change fees for a future attack.
Remember that the chances of you getting caught in a terrorist attack while traveling is miniscule. However, make sure that you take these steps to be prepared for the worst-case scenario.