I was completely late in the game to find and sign up for STEP, and to be honest, I didn’t really even see the need at first. I was like ” I’m a traveller, I don’t need any alerts on the places I’m going” yada yada yada. What I soon realized is that regardless of how well versed I am as a traveller, the embassy still knows more than me (clearly). Plus, the fact that they know the dates of my travel means that if anything goes down while I’m overseas, they’re already on the look out for me.
Looking at what’s recently happened with how Hurricane Irma terrorized the Caribbean in the tail end of summer when many people are traveling, I’d say that should be enough of a reason to make sure the embassy knows where you are when abroad. Then there are other situations like terrorist attacks or disease outbreaks that all us wandering souls should be aware of.
On the STEP website some of the benefit’s they list about enrolling with them and registering your trip(s) are:
– Receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans.
– Help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.
– Help family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.
Another good aspect about STEP is that even if you are not traveling, you can sign up for travel alerts and warnings. This can be beneficial if you have family out of the country or you’re thinking of planning a trip to another country and want to stay on top of any warnings that might pop up.
So signing up is pretty self explanatory. You create an account and they will ask you for the dates and which countries you plan to visit. I registered both my trip to Chile and Peru and it was really simple. I actually got an email from the embassy during the time I was in Chile, but not because anything was wrong. It was randomly about some town hall forum for U.S. citizens residing in Chile to discuss Social Security benefits in the future. Anywho, the process is easy, and it’s better to be safe than sorry if you’re livin’ it up overseas and something disastrous happens.