Understanding State Department Travel Warnings

The US State Department Travel Warnings and Alerts

We love to travel. Even though the world can sometimes be a scary place, it doesn’t stop us from getting out our passports and hopping on a plane. But that doesn’t mean we throw caution to the wind!

The US State Department has an excellent tool to help us determine whether a destination is too risky to visit-the Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts listed on www.travel.state.gov.

Travel Warnings

Travel Warnings are issued by the State Department when there is an ongoing, long-term situation that may put travelers at serious risk. Scenarios that would call for a Travel Warning include civil war, consistently high rates of violent crime, unstable governments, or frequent terrorist activity. A Travel Warning means that the State Department wants travelers to consider carefully whether they should travel to that destination at all.

When a Travel Warning is issued, it will list the name of the affected country, but in many cases, travelers are warned against visiting only certain regions of the country. For example, there is a Travel Warning for Honduras because of a persistently high level of crime in the capital, Tegucigalpa, and in other major cities, but the State Department notes that the resort regions of Roatan and the Bay Islands have a much lower crime level than the rest of the nation and are safer to visit. For other nations, such as Somalia, the Travel Warning urges US citizens not to travel to the country at all.

Many Travel Warnings provide valuable information on how travelers can mitigate the risks, such as specifying which areas to avoid and providing guidance on how to avoid becoming a victim of crime. All Travel Warnings also provide contact information for the US Embassy, which can assist US citizens in case of emergency.

Travel Alerts

Unlike a Travel Warning, which indicates a long-term issue, Travel Alerts are issued for short-term problems like strikes and demonstrations, disease outbreaks, natural disasters, or a temporarily heightened risk of terrorist attacks. The Travel Alert is cancelled when the dangerous event is over.

Travel Alerts typically do not warn travelers against visiting the country, but instead urge caution and provide advice on how to stay safe. They also list contact information for the US Embassy in the destination country as well as links to additional information sources.

Current Travel Warnings

The following nations are some of those currently under Travel Warnings; please see the State Department’s Alerts and Warnings page for a full and up-to-date list.

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