the u.s. state department’s “smart traveler” for iphone


I’m always hunting for a good iPhone or iPad app that relates to travel, one that can take some of the exhaustive Google searching out of my travel planning days. Smart Traveler for iPhone is just such an app.

Smart Traveler is the official State Department app for U.S. travelers, and according to their app mission statement, “invites you to see the world with easy access to frequently updated official country information, travel alerts, travel warnings, maps, U.S. embassy locations, and more.” It does in fact deliver.

The app is free, which is always a plus. Once you launch the app, you have several search options. First, there is a list of every country in the world. When you select a country it links to another page with three sections: “Know Before You Go,” “Country Background,” and “US Embassies/Consulates.”

The “Know Before You Go” tab is my favorite and the most helpful, broken down into another fifteen categories including travel alerts and warnings, a country map, locations of U.S. embassies in that country, safety and security information, crime statistics, criminal penalties [very important!], medical and health info, etc. By far the most helpful section here is the entry and exit requirements. If you are like me and travel to some questionable regions of the world, you will need to know what the visa and entrance situation is in each country. One touch and you have all of the visa information you need to then proceed and securing whatever you need to travel to a particular country.

One word of caution regarding this section – since the “Travel Alerts/Warnings” section is created and updated by the U.S. State Department, the information there is subject to the political winds of the day – i.e. if a particular administration deems a country a threat to the U.S. there will be a travel warning for that country, even though the decision to create the travel warning is purely political.

Another of the three major sections of the app is the “Country Background” section, which is then split into nine sections including a country profile, people, history, government, political conditions, economy, defense, foreign relations, and relations with the U.S. This section is again subject to the political winds of the day.

My one regret is that this app is not yet available for iPad, but still it is a very useful app for U.S. travelers, and at a price of zero dollars it can’t be beat.