By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The State Department issued a global travel alert today, citing an Al-Qaeda threat that has led to the closure of 21 U.S. embassies and consulates this weekend in the Muslim world.

The alert warns that Al-Qaeda or its allies may target U.S. government sites or American interests.  3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan joins us with how this may affect those in our area.

Summer is peak travel time for many of us, particularly when it comes to traveling abroad.  Families have more time to tackle longer trips, college students often are studying overseas or volunteering in far-off places.  If you or someone you know may be heading out of the country, you need to really to be aware of what is going on around you.

The State Department is urging American travelers to take extra precautions over the next few weeks when traveling overseas – especially when it comes to visiting popular tourist sites and when using public transportation systems, since previous terrorist attacks have centered on subway and rail networks as well as airplanes and boats.

While this is a global travel alert, the main area of concern is in the Middle East and North Africa.  There is concern of a possible attack occurring or coming from the Arabian Peninsula.

The State Department is recommending Americans avoid traveling to a number of countries in the region like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Israel or at the very least, consider the risks.

In some cases, the U.S. may be unable to assist travelers in an emergency because an embassy or consulate is closed.  The State Department suggests that travelers sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, a free service that allows those 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.

This global travel alert is expected to run through August 31.

By the way, while many travel insurance plans cover terrorism, the definition of terrorism varies by each company and each plan.   So be sure to read any policy fully before you buy.

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