Terrorist attacks often happen without warning. U.S. citizens should stay alert. Take steps to boost your security when traveling. Read our Country Information pages. Check Travel Advisories on Travel.State.Gov before you go. Also, sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). It sends you security messages about threats. While abroad, you should also watch the local news. Know the contact info for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  

Terrorist groups, their associates, and those inspired by them may target U.S. and Western citizens. They may do this all around the world. Extremists may use normal weapons. They may also use non-traditional ones. But many now use simpler methods to better target crowds. These methods include using edged weapons. They also include using pistols and vehicles.

Extremists are attacking "soft" targets more and more. These include:

·         high-profile public events, including sporting contests, political rallies, demonstrations, holiday events, celebratory gatherings, etc.

·         hotels, clubs, and restaurants

  • places of worship
  • schools
  • parks
  • shopping malls and markets
  • tourism infrastructure
  • public transportation systems
  • airports

These recommendations may help you to avoid becoming a target.  Following them may help deter would-be terrorists and provide peace of mind.


Airports and Air Travel

  • Schedule direct flights if possible. Avoid stops in high-risk airports or areas. Country Information pages often highlight such locations.
  • Do not spend too much time in the public area of an airport. Move quickly from the check-in counter to security screening. This is how you get into the secured area of an airport. When you land, leave the airport as soon as possible. Arrival areas are typically less secure than departure areas.
  • Watch for abandoned packages or other suspicious items. Report them to airport authorities and leave the area quickly.
  • As much as possible, avoid drawing attention to yourself.

Public Venues

  • When possible, avoid spending time at the “soft” targets listed above. Be alert for suspicious or unusual activity.
  • Know that Western-branded venues or Western-like facilities may be targets for terrorists.
  • Do not meet strangers at unknown or remote locations.
  • Report suspicious activities and people to the local police. This includes potential surveillants. Also, report them to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
  • Identify potential safe areas. These include police stations, hotels, and hospitals. Formulate a plan of action. Know where you will go if a terrorist attack or security incident takes place.
  • Remember the “run, hide, fight” rule during a terrorist attack or similar incident. If you can, quickly leave. If not, hide. As a last resort, if needed, yell and fight.

Taxi Cabs and Personal Vehicles

  • If possible, travel with others.
  • Carry a charged cell phone with you at all times. Inform friends, family and colleagues of your departures and arrivals.
  • Select your own taxicab at random. Do not use an unlicensed cab. Taxis, Uber or Uber-like vehicles should have photo licenses. They should be clearly displayed inside the vehicle or on the phone app. Compare the image to the driver, including identifying information for the driver. Record license plate information in your phone as a precaution.
  • When driving rental or personal vehicles, inspect them for suspicious items or marks.
  • Drive with car windows closed whenever possible. Keep your vehicle in good operating condition. It should have at least one-half tank of gasoline.


  • Review evacuation and shelter-in-place plans for your hotel room.
  • Know the identity of visitors before opening the door of your hotel room. Don't meet strangers at your hotel room.
  • Refuse unexpected packages.
  • Report suspicious activities to the hotel’s front desk or security office.

Police and Security Services

  • Follow instructions provided by the police and security services. Do this during an emergency. 
Last Updated: March 6, 2024