Contributed by Sue Bradford of Journeys Around the World

As you’ve probably seen in the news, a few Americans have recently passed away or reported serious incidents while visiting resorts in the Dominican Republic. While these news stories may have you re-thinking your upcoming travel plans, the truth is the Dominican Republic hasn’t suddenly become more dangerous. These incidents have just had more media attention than before.

The U.S. State Department released a statement about the deaths from unnatural causes (such as auto accidents, suicides, homicides, and drownings) since 2007 and the total number is actually lower than previous years.

As your travel advisor, it’s my recommendation that you shouldn’t rush to cancel or change your trip, but to follow the government’s recommendation to exercise increased caution.

It’s my priorityto ensure your safety no matter where your destination is, so I’ve put together these safety tips to follow when traveling:

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Stay alert to where you are what the people around you are doing. Avoid leaving your resort’s property except when going on an escorted excursion, and do not travel by yourself. Trust your instincts if you feel uncomfortable. Being overly cautious is ok!

Avoid Being an Easy Target

In all destinations, you should dress in simple clothing and leave expensive jewelry at home. Only take small amounts of cash from your resort room with you and limit your wallet to only one credit card. Make sure your pockets and bags are always secure. Always lock up your valuables, including your passport, in your room safe before going anywhere. Leave copies of your travel documents and passport with a trusted person back home.

Maintain Moderate Consumption Habits

Do your best to stay hydrated and drink sealed bottled water. Only eat foods that are less risky and are in your normal diet.

Most of all, maintain moderation when it comes to consuming alcohol. Don’t start too early, know your limits, be sure to drink water in between alcoholic beverages, and never leave your drinks unattended. It’s also important to avoid mixing your over-the-counter and prescription drugs with alcohol.

Purchase Travel Insurance

Travel insurance can provide protection and priceless assistance during medical emergencies, natural disasters, and other major events. If you should need to change your trip, travel insurance plays a key factor in protecting your investment. Be sure to carefully read your policy to understand the coverage.

Trust the Medical Professionals

If you have a pre-existing condition that could limit your travel abilities, check with your doctor to ensure you are able to go.

If you don’t feel well during any part of your trip, call the resort’s front desk to have the resort doctor check on you. Fees may apply, and travel insurance can help cover occurred expenses.

Enroll in STEP

For international travel, consider using the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This free service allows to you register your contact information so that the closest U.S. Embassy or Consulate can provide important information or support during a crisis. Visit or more details.

Your safe, smooth travels are my top priority. I appreciate your ongoing loyalty and support. Please let me know if there is additional information that would be helpful and be sure to keep the affected families in your thoughts and prayers.