Traveling abroad can offer\r\nenriching and fulfilling experiences at every turn. After all, you get the\r\nchance to try new foods, discover exciting cultures and meet people from all\r\nwalks of life. But as gratifying as taking an international trip can be, it can\r\nalso be stressful and even a little scary, especially in today's insecure times.\r\nWith terrorist attacks in Paris, Kenya and Istanbul and shootings along the\r\ncoasts of the Mediterranean, it can seem like the world's best destinations\r\nare under siege. Sadly, you can't predict these devastating attacks. However, you can travel smarter by staying\r\ninformed and taking important steps to maximize safety.\r\n\r\nSo, how should you prepare\r\nyourself for your next international trip? We've compiled a checklist that will\r\nhelp you plan a safe and enjoyable vacation abroad.Sign Up for the State Department's\r\nSmart Traveler Enrollment Program\r\n\r\nRegistering for the State\r\nDepartment's free Smart Traveler Enrollment Program service is a must,\r\nespecially if you're traveling to areas that are currently experiencing unrest.\r\nDoing so will help the closest U.S. embassy or Consulate alert you in the event of\r\na crisis, such as a security threat or natural disaster. Plus, you can receive updated travel alerts and advisories on the location you're visiting in addition to\r\nassistance in the event of an emergency.\r\n\r\nBook With a Travel Agent\r\n\r\nEven if you're reluctant\r\nto trust a travel agent, there are plenty of reasons to consider booking your\r\nvacation with one. For one, a travel agent can help you stay informed and\r\nprepared for travel abroad. Not only do travel agents keep copies of\r\nyour passport, visa and trip itinerary, they often receive information and advisories quickly\r\nand can help ensure you're always in the\r\nloop, no matter where you're located. Plus, in the case of a dire emergency or if you\r\nneed to cancel your trip for any reason, they can help you get home safely and\r\nswiftly.\r\n\r\nInvest in Travel Insurance\r\n\r\nIt may seem like a no\r\nbrainer, but so many travelers forgo travel insurance. While you may think it's an unnecessary expense, travel insurance can be a life saver if\r\nsomething goes awry while abroad. But before you buy, read the fine print and\r\nmake sure you purchase the plan that will apply to you. Rely on helpful\r\nresources like InsureMyTrip.com to compare different plans available, and if\r\nyou're not sure what you need for your trip, enlist a travel agent or an\r\ninsurance representative to help you weigh your options and invest in the best\r\ncoverage for your specific travel needs and itinerary.\r\n\r\nScan Important Documents \r\n\r\nThere's nothing worse than\r\nhaving your passport stolen when you're on the last leg of your trip. A stolen\r\npassport will cause far more than just travel delays – in fact, it can prevent you from getting home.\r\nAlways keep a scanned copy of your passport with your family at home and on\r\nfile in your email inbox. That way, if your bags are stolen, you'll have access\r\nto your essential travel documents. \r\n\r\nShare Your Itinerary Details With Loved\r\nOnes\r\n\r\nThere's a chance your\r\nfamily and friends will want to know your travel plans just to follow your\r\nadventures abroad, but providing loved ones with a copy of your itinerary can\r\nalso help keep you safe. Because of time zone differences and connectivity\r\nissues in off-the-grid destinations, your family can stay informed and updated\r\non any travel warnings and alerts that arise before you do.\r\n\r\nKeep Your Money in Different Places\r\n\r\nWhile overseas, never keep\r\nall of your bank cards, credit cards and cash in one place. That way, you'll\r\nensure you'll have access to funds in the event your wallet or purse is stolen.\r\nInstead, keep your money in different places to ensure your cash is out of the\r\nhands of pickpockets. Store different cards and cash inside your hotel room safe\r\nor your suitcase to protect yourself against theft. \r\n\r\nLock up Your Passport and Valuables\r\n\r\nEven if you're staying in\r\na four- or five-star property abroad, always lock your passport in your hotel safe\r\nto avoid a major headache. It's also important to leave valuable items\r\nat home and out of your pockets while you're\r\nwalking down the street. This includes your wallet, money and jewelry.\r\nMany pickpockets target unsuspecting travelers by grabbing items from their front,\r\nback or side pockets without causing them to flinch. If necessary, carry important possessions in a secure cross-body bag or in your front coat\r\npocket, where you can keep an eye on them.\r\n\r\nBuy a Data Plan or Sim Card \r\n\r\nIf you're traveling on\r\nbudget, a sim card or data plan can seem like an unnecessary cost. However, it\r\ncan be a helpful lifeline if you get lost or scared journeying on your own.\r\nHaving a phone that works not only keeps you connected to family and friends,\r\nbut will make it easy to report a theft, call the police or access maps if you're\r\nlost.\r\n\r\nBe Aware of Your Surroundings\r\n\r\nTraveling overseas is a critical time to stay vigilant, even if you feel 100 percent safe. Always keep an eye on your\r\npersonal belongings and ensure important items are close to your body at all times.\r\nAlso, keep an eye out for suspicious behavior and pay attention to the local\r\ntraffic patterns and bicyclists. And while there's a certain charm and\r\nexcitement that comes with wandering around a new city aimlessly, it comes with\r\nadded risks. Always keep a map in your pack pocket so you can return to safety easily and quickly.