Traveling internationally can be an incredible experience. Whether you’re visiting a country you’ve been to many times before or are exploring a brand-new destination, you can make your trip a memorable adventure. From sightseeing to trying new foods, international travel can provide much-needed respite from the repetitiveness of daily life. At the same time, it’s important to prioritize your health and safety while you’re traveling. In this article, we discuss some of the top travel safety apps that you can use to protect yourself and your loved ones while abroad.
The U.S. Department of State created the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) specifically for American travelers going abroad. The STEP app can be downloaded on both Android and iOS devices and is free to use. Users receive real-time security updates from the nearest U.S. consulate or embassy to their travel destination. The app includes key information such as:
- Travel warnings and alerts
- Safety guides for foreign destinations
- Messages about U.S. embassy events and services
- Contact information for the closest U.S. consulate or embassy
Additionally, the information you provide in the app allows the U.S. consulate or embassy to contact you directly in an emergency. If a situation occurs that puts you at risk of harm, you should receive a timely warning through the STEP app.
When you’re traveling in an unfamiliar area, you probably want your friends or family to be able to track your location in an emergency. bSafe is a location sharing app that offers “prevention, handling and documentation of incidents” to protect travelers. The app has multiple safety features designed to make users feel safe in a range of situations, including:
- An SOS alarm that activates audio and video recording on the user’s phone
- Live streaming to selected emergency contacts, so they can view a potentially unsafe situation in real time
- Live GPS-tracking for selected friends and family members
- Alerts that trigger if you fail to check in at a certain time
bSafe is a good traveling app if you find yourself in an unfamiliar city. With user-friendly features and the ability to set check in times, you ensure that people will take notice if you run into trouble.
A virtual private network (VPN) is an encrypted connection from your device to a network over the Internet. Having an encrypted connection protects your sensitive data and keeps hackers and other malicious actors from gaining access to your device, personal info, or financial accounts. A VPN can also allow you to safely work remotely on a company device if you’re on a work trip abroad.
There are many different VPNs available to consumers, but NordVPN is perhaps the most well-known option on the market. You can use NordVPN on your computer, cellphone, or tablet. It will encrypt your data, disguise your location, and block unwanted ads. You additionally benefit from effective malware protection and antivirus software.
If you worry that someone could be reading your private messages and texts, you may find it beneficial to download an encrypted messaging app. Using an encrypted messaging app like WhatsApp, you’ll be able to send texts, videos, and images like usual. You’ll also be able to make phone calls. Where WhatsApp differs from iMessage and Android SMS messaging is that your conversations are protected by end-to-end encryption. No one can gain access to or read your messages.
WhatsApp also has a number of neat features that enhance your privacy beyond simple end-to-end encryption. You can choose to protect sensitive conversations with a password, make messages disappear after you’ve sent them, silence calls from unknown numbers, and choose whether or not to publicly display when you’re online on your profile.
The Emergency app was created by the American Red Cross to provide timely warnings of dangerous weather conditions. The app is available to travelers in both English and Spanish. You can toggle up to 40 different weather alerts, so you’ll receive relevant notifications of bad weather in your area. The app allows you to monitor your current location and five other areas. Extreme weather conditions and storms can be unpredictable, so it’s best to have a reliable early warning system when you’re traveling in an unfamiliar area.
Different countries have different phone numbers for emergencies, and you don’t want to be scrambling to find the correct contact information in an urgent situation. The app TripWhistle gives travelers immediate access to the emergency number for 196 different counties. You can also use the app to share your coordinators with first responders, so they can quickly come to your exact location and provide assistance. It’s important to note that you will need to temporarily disable your VPN, if you’re using one, for this app to function correctly.
Protect Yourself During Your Next Trip Across the World
Anytime you’re traveling in an unfamiliar location, it’s essential to take precautions to protect your physical and digital wellbeing. By using apps that share your location with friends and family, protecting your Internet connection, and staying alert for dangerous conditions near you, you can enjoy a relaxing and safe trip.