The U.S. Government does more for travelers than just issue passports. They also maintain many official websites that provide travelers with useful information. We’ve compiled five of our favorite U.S. government travel websites. These websites will keep you informed about your destination, help keep you safe and secure on your journeys, and will even help you make your flight on time! If you’re a frequent traveler, add these five sites to your bookmarks.
This U.S. State Department website provides concise information for travelers about every country on the globe. Just type in the name of your destination country, and you can get information about entry requirements, customs information, local laws, and health and safety concerns. You can also find full contact information for the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in the country you’ll visit. As passport professionals, we particularly like that each country’s page spells out how many blank visa pages you must have to enter, and whether the nation requires a certain minimum validity time for your passport.
Do you know if you need to get any vaccines before you travel? The Center for Disease Control is the authority on the subject, but their website goes far beyond just listing the recommended vaccines for your destination. They offer customized advice for travelers to each nation, allowing you to select your special travel needs, such as traveling with children, during pregnancy, or with a medical condition that compromises your immune system. They even provide a “Healthy Travel Packing List” for each country to help you remember the essential medicines, first aid, and sanitation supplies you’ll need to stay well on your trip.
Wondering if your flight is likely to depart on time? This FAA site is continually updated with real-time information from the Air Traffic Control System Command Center. On the site’s map of the United States, you’ll see which airports are currently experiencing delays. If your airport is highlighted, simply hover your mouse over it for more information on why delays are occurring and how long flights are delayed.
Your flight is on time – great! But do you know how much time you should allow yourself to get through the security lines at TSA? Type in your airport code or city of departure, and see how long it’s taking for travelers to get through security lines. You can also contribute to the website by posting the wait time you experienced at the airport at https://apps.tsa.dhs.gov/mytsa/wait_times_post.aspx.
STEP, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, is a free service offered by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs. You can register your trip online so that the local U.S. Embassy in your destination country will have your contact information. This will allow them to contact and assist you in case of an emergency like a natural disaster or terrorist attack. It will also help friends and family in the United States to get in touch with you in an emergency situation, whether it’s a large scale emergency in your destination country or a family emergency back home. Frequent travelers can create an account on the STEP website to quickly enroll trips as they come up.
What are your favorite websites for travelers? Tell us in the comments!