what do I need to know about travel warnings

What Do I Need to Know About Travel Warnings?

When planning out any sort of international travel, be it for business or pleasure, it’s important to take a variety of factors into consideration. Do you need special vaccines to enter a country? What about travel visas? Are you traveling to an area of the world that has recently issued a travel warning or advisory? There are different levels of travel advisories and warnings, so what exactly do they mean? Here’s an easy guide with information on what you need to know about travel warnings and advisories before traveling to any international destination.

What do I need to know about travel warnings and advisories?

When it comes to paying attention to travel warnings and advisories, it’s wise to keep a close eye on your travel destination. If conflict of political or criminal nature has been taking place in the country or location you plan to travel to, it can impact your safety on a serious level. But how do you know the difference between travel warnings vs. advisories? Are they the same thing? Simply put, no, they aren’t. 

Travel warnings and advisories are issued based on events taking place in foreign locales that may put American citizens at risk. This can include a series of situations ranging from health crisis to political unrest, to anniversaries of terrorist actions and a variety of other potentially dangerous scenarios. So how seriously should you take these warnings and advisories and how do you know the level of severity? Let’s talk about the difference between travel warnings and travel advisories.

Travel Warnings vs. Advisories – What’s the Difference?

Travel advisories or alerts are typically temporary in nature. Say a severe storm system, hurricane, tropical storm, etc, is forecasted to make its path through a particular location. There may be an alert issued for that country to notify U.S. citizens to help keep them safe, and make them aware before entering a dangerous situation. These alerts may also include current political unrest – elections, anniversaries of major government changes, or even planned events where politicians from other nations plan to visit. These types of events, especially in nations where violence or severe weather are not a usual occurrence, mean that the alert is a mere warning. The alert or advisory is issued to make travelers aware of the situation so they can best prepare for the event, or delay their trip should they prefer that route. There are four different levels of advisories and we’ll discuss those further on.

A travel warning is much more severe in nature, and should be taken more seriously. Travel warnings are issued when the state department feels that American travelers should avoid a region or country all together. These are issued at times they feel that the political climate, or any type of violent unrest makes traveling anywhere in the nation unsafe for American citizens. Warnings also mean that resources and U.S. embassy support may be limited due to political climate or violence in that nation – should you choose to travel to these countries, your access to U.S. help may be limited. 

If you’re traveling internationally, whether you believe your destination may be a controversial one or not, you should check the state department’s site for a current list of advisories and warnings. This can help you plan best for any safety concerns you may have. 

What are the travel advisory levels?

We’ve established that a travel warning is significantly more severe than a travel alert, but it’s important to realize there are different levels of alerts that should be taken into consideration. Below is a breakdown of travel alert level, and what they mean.

what are the travel advisory levels
What are the travel advisory levels? There are 4 distinct levels of safety U.S. travelers should consider when heading to international destinations.
  • Level 1: Blue – Exercise Normal Precautions – It’s reasonable to assume that the normal level of crime and unrest is present. Be aware of dangerous parts of town, pay attention to the normal political happenings, and be informed about the weather and other current events.
  • Level 2: Yellow – Exercise Increased Caution – Due to our political climate at home, Americans may be targets in countries where these alerts are issued. Increased crime, isolated instances of terrorism or countries recovering disaster may be unsafe for American travelers. Some of these issues may be worth rescheduling your trip over.
  • Level 3: Orange – Reconsider Travel. When a level 3 travel advisory is issued for a particular region,  it is highly advised that American citizens do not travel to that area. It can indicate many things including:  a severe catastrophe; increased violence; terrorism;  or crime such as rape, kidnapping, trafficking or arson. This level of alert can also indicate violent acts involving political and civil unrest, or health emergencies. Level 3 advisories should be taken seriously.
  • Level 4 : Red – Do Not Travel – LLocations with a Level 4 designation are typically anti-American, and may go so far as to incarcerate, detain, harass, or physically harm American citizens. The State Department’s ability to intervene and assist citizens that travel to these areas is very limited . Most of these countries actually do not allow U.S. citizens to travel to their nation in the first place, but if you find yourself headed there, you need to consider that you are taking your safety and potentially your life into your own hands. You should avoid these countries at all costs.

You may be surprised to know that popular tourist destinations have travel advisories out on them, which is why no matter what your motivation for travel is, you should check the state department’s site to keep up to date on warnings and advisories. Staying safe while traveling should be your first priority, especially when traveling to areas of unrest. We know you’ve thought about all of these potential risks but being fully informed can only help. 

travel safety tips
Need some tips to help you stay safe on your travels? Click on the image to check out our travel safety tips to help you feel safe on your trip.

Leave A Comment