“Would you like to come and visit me in Cairo?” My friend had been teaching in Egypt the past year when she invited me. A trip to Egypt?! I imagined myself dressed in a flowy garment, riding a camel next to the date palm-lined banks of the Nile. The stuff of dreams! As a member of the Air Force Reserve, I have had opportunities to travel overseas in an official capacity, but this would be my first international grand vacation! I excitedly told my husband about our plans and he asked, “Is it safe?”
To set his mind at ease, I did some research.
I started my trip planning at www.travel.state.gov. Here I found current travel alerts and warnings as well as passport and visa requirements, local laws, transportation, recommended vaccinations, health tips, and a useful travel checklist. I also visited the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at step.state.gov/step, to register with the local U.S. Embassy to receive information about safety conditions and also make it easier to be contacted in an emergency.
As a reservist, I was able to take advantage of the Force Protection ancillary computer-based training, which provides additional tips for staying safe while traveling abroad.
The CBT encourages you to try to blend in with the local populace, conceal your military affiliation, avoid public disturbances or political demonstrations, and to be careful about posting travel plans on social media.
With my western European ancestry, chances are I wouldn’t blend in very well in Egypt, but I could take safety precautions and be respectful of Egyptian culture.
My friend said I should bring conservative clothing to wear in Egypt, so I packed long skirts, flowy blouses, a sun hat, and a scarf to cover my head for visiting religious sites. Keeping in mind that the weather would be extremely hot, I packed accordingly. She also gave me contact numbers and told me about how to get my visa upon arrival.
Thanks to all the research and preparation, I had a wonderful adventure, stayed safe, and waited until I had returned before posting photos online.
Traveling abroad can be a wonderful experience with opportunities to see historical sites, sample delicious new foods, and learn about different cultures. Spending time to prepare for your trip will ensure you also have a safe, fun, and hopefully, amazing time!
To learn more about safe travels, visit travel.state.gov and search for the U.S. State Department Traveler’s Checklist.