By Jim Donovan

By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Not everyone heads to the New Jersey shore this time of year.  For many, summer is an opportunity to explore the world.  But sometimes your itinerary could overlap with possibly dangerous situations.  So that’s why 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan says you need to do some homework before packing your bags.

Civil unrest in Egypt, government protests in Turkey, scenes like these playing out on the TV might have you rethinking your summer travel plans.  While protests or uprisings don’t necessarily mean your trip is off.  Before you make the decision to change or cancel a trip, get informed.

The best place to start is with the U.S. State Department which keeps an updated list of countries the United States government has deemed dangerous or unstable. The State Department recommends Americans avoid traveling to a number of countries or at the very least, consider the risks.  In some cases, the U.S. government may be unable to assist you in an emergency because an embassy or consulate is closed.

On the State Department website you can see when the warnings were issued and what guidance the government is offering.  Consider signing up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, a free service that allows travelers headed overseas to register their plans in advance and opt for State Department issued email updates about travel warnings and alerts for countries you pre-select.  The State Department also outlines what it can and cannot do in the event of a crisis, should you find yourself or your family in trouble overseas.

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