The State Department's campaign focusing on overseas safety and travel preparedness for older travelers, which launched in mid-October, is the latest in a number of campaigns the department highlights each year.

Michelle Bernier-Toth, managing director of Overseas Citizens Services at the State Department, said that older travelers became the latest target based on their prevalence.

"One of the things that we look at is, what are the trends in terms of U.S. citizens traveling and living abroad, and one of the things we've seen over the years is the growing number of older travelers," Bernier-Toth said.

It's not surprising, she said: Americans over age 55 who are in good health and have the resources are increasingly traveling, even retiring, abroad.

"That's why we said: This is a special group that has many common issues with other travelers, but there are also special issues that older travelers have that we want them to be aware of and know where to go for help," she said. "Our website has a lot of good information for all travelers, but we wanted to target the older Americans at this time."

On its website, the State Department maintains a page dedicated to information for older travelers, including downloadable materials such as checklists. 

To spread the word about the campaign, the department has reached out to relevant media and has posted on its social media accounts. It posts to Twitter and Facebook. Bernier-Toth said Facebook tends to be the more effective platform for reaching older travelers.

The State Department also partners with a number of organizations to help spread the word. In this case, it reached out to ASTA, which featured the campaign prominently in one of its Travel Advisor Daily newsletters.

"As the national trade association representing travel advisers, we sit at the intersection of government and industry and regularly engage with governmental entities like the State Department, the Transportation Security Administration, the Department of Transportation and others," said Eben Peck, the Society's executive vice president for advocacy.

ASTA has also worked with the State Department to get the word out about issues in the past, such as the rollout of the department's new travel warning system.

"Because travel is such an important component of the overall economy, our goal and theirs is to ensure a safe and reliable travel system for all Americans and to keep America traveling," Peck said.

According to Bernier-Toth, the State Department runs about 10 different campaigns each year, strategically planned about a year in advance. 

When the older-traveler campaign ends, an annual campaign that focuses on spring break travel will begin. 

Others on the horizon include a campaign about cruise travel, tips to avoid becoming a crime victim while traveling and international parental child abduction.

"Some of it is looking at the kinds of challenges and problems we see people having overseas," Bernier-Toth said. "We want to make sure that we target those, so that people have the information to avoid those problems."

For example, with older Americans, a specific issue to which Bernier-Toth pointed is traveling with an adequate supply of prescription drugs as well as the prescriptions themselves. "We want to make sure people don't experience those problems that will really disrupt their travel," she said.

She encouraged travel agents to keep up to date with the department and its campaigns and to share them with the appropriate clients. The best ways are through its website and via Facebook and Twitter. She also encouraged agents to, in turn, encourage clients to sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which pushes destination-specific alerts and information to travelers.

"We look very carefully at what is happening in the world, who our travelers are, who our Americans abroad are, and we want to make sure that they have the information they need," she said. 

"They know that they can come to us as a trusted source of information to help them either prepare for their trip, plan their activities abroad, get out of harm's way when there's something going on. We really believe that a smart traveler is a safer traveler."

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