As the U.S. State Department issued a rare worldwide travel alert for Americans, Assist America wants to remind travelers to take all necessary precautions when traveling during this holiday season.
"U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation," the alert said. "Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid large crowds or crowded places. Exercise particular caution during the holiday season and at holiday festivals or events."
The State Department often issues travel warnings, but alerts are uncommon, reserved for short-term events, whereas warnings can be indefinite and resulting from general instability.
Nonetheless, an alert does not mean a terror attack is imminent. It more likely reflects recent events — such as the recent terror attacks — and the need for heightened caution.
The Transportation Security Administration has “doubled down” on security at airports, and wait times have gone up.
An estimated 46.9 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday, an increase of 300,000 over last year and the most since 2007, according to AAA Travel. Some 3.6 million Americans are flying to their holiday destinations, a 0.1% increase from last year.
The busiest travel days of the Thanksgiving season are expected to be Sunday, November 29; Monday, November 30; and Wednesday, November 25, respectively, according to Airlines for America, an airline industry group. The lightest travel days will be Thanksgiving Day and the Friday after, the group estimates.
The alert also reminds U.S. citizens “should monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities. Persons with specific safety concerns should contact local law enforcement authorities that are responsible for the safety and security of all visitors to their host country. U.S. citizens should:
• Follow the instructions of local authorities.
• Monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.
• Be prepared for additional security screening and unexpected disruptions.
• Stay in touch with your family members and ensure they know how to reach you in the event of an emergency.
• Register in our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)."
Always remember to carry your Assist America membership card with you when you travel. Our Operations Center is available 24 hours, 7 days a week from anywhere in the world.