Travel Tip Tuesday: STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program)

This holiday season, Paolo and I flew separately. I don’t mind admitting, it’s the first time, I’ve ever been a nervous traveler. Including that one time, our flight took off from Bangkok, then land right back in Bangkok an hour later due to “a bad engine.”

I’m honestly not sure if it was 2016 itself shaking my traveler nerves of steel or just the fact that Paolo was flying without me. Either way, it got us talking about playing it safe when we travel.

Travel Tip Tuesday

Is there something Americans traveling internationally should or could be doing… you know just in case? Turns out, the answer is yes. Thanks to smart phones, it’s already on hand.

Enter this Travel Tip Tuesday post on STEP, the US Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.

What is the STEP

Direct from the State Department itself:

“The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.”

I know sounds dry as paint, completely optional and not the least bit helpful. Here’s the deal though, after doing some research I’ve come to believe registering with the STEP program falls in the better safe than sorry territory.

Here’s why

Why Register With STEP

Frequent travelers know that mixed feeling of sickness and relief that comes with thinking “oh god, I was just there.” While terrorist attacks and natural disasters, have not and will not, stop us from traveling the world, they do make us take every precaution.

Registering with the STEP program is a precaution that’s easy to take.

What you get by registering:

  • Current information and safety conditions for your destination intended to help make informed decisions about travel plans.
  • In case of an emergency (natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency) the U.S. Embassy will be able to contact you.

Yes, it’s true in this overly connected day and age, bad news hits the wires pretty quickly.

Still if something does go wrong and there is any chance localized Embassy messages from the STEP program detail specific safety, security or travel information… yeah I want that.

How to Enroll in STEP

Visit the STEP website to enroll or download the Smart Traveler App and enroll through the STEP logo at the bottom.

Have the following information ready:

  • name
  • date of birth
  • passport number, issue and expiration dates
  • travel dates and locations
  • email address
  • phone number
  • emergency contact

If you’re worried about Big Brother tracking you and don’t want to register any more info than you have to, at least check out the Smart Traveler App.

If anything ever does happen while traveling abroad, it’s the quickest way to find Embassies and Consulates. Plus there is a boat load of useful travel information like:

  • Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements including links to visa program applications
  • Destination Descriptions with links to US Department of State fact sheets
  • Safety & Security Information
  • Local Laws & Special Circumstances
  • Health
  • Travel & Transportation

Certainly would have been helpful to read that before we rented a car in Costa Rica or packed only warm weather clothing for Myanmar!

Wishing you safe and happy travels. Fill your eyes and share what you see.


  1. Do you set up a STEP account for everyone you are traveling with? Or simply mark in the comments about spouse and children?


    1. Hi Amber! That’s a great Mom question. Unfortunately, I don’t have the sensibilities of a Mom. There are people who say it’s way to much information to give the government. I believe they already have it! If you’re comfortable registering the information with STEP, I would recommend working by passport. In other words, since the kids have passports, I would input their information. I would also recommend in the comment field, copy and pasting the same information to each entry linking the family connection together at least with name and emergency contact information. Registering one family member is better than nothing. If you’re going to do STEP though, it might not be a bad idea to be thorough and register all family traveling with you.


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