Understanding the Importance of Travel Warnings

Frequent fliers and holiday travelers often overlook a critical safety and security aspect. You might conjure up romantic images of a leisurely holiday in faraway Côte d'Ivoire or Haiti, or perhaps a multi-million dollar sale in Syria, however, you may be shocked to know that your government currently considers both these destinations to be a highly dangerous place and advices you to avoid it at all costs. Few are aware that the US Government regularly issues travel warnings for its citizens. After all, when the lure of a well-earned holiday or the greed for the big bucks draw you to a foreign place, why would anyone in their right mind consider something as boring as US government travel warnings?

What are Travel Warnings?

As the name suggests, State Department travel warnings display a list of countries that the US Government considers un-safe and highly avoidable for its citizens. This means, that due to political reasons, a previously friendly nation might turn hostile towards the US. At that point, if you are found lazing away on its beaches or negotiating what you think is a highly profitable business deal, you could well risk losing your life or causing yourself bodily harm. Who knows when a hostile government could have you arrested, or tortured and maimed, or God forbid, even killed just because you are a US citizen?

Look through the newspapers or online ezines and you will find several instances of US citizens who were caught and trapped, injured, or even killed just because they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Since prevention is better than sure or regret, lets run a quick eye over the latest travel warnings.

Latest US Travel Warnings

Right now, there is a long list of countries that you should avoid, if possible. That doesn't mean you mustn't ever visit these countries and nor does it mean that if you happen to be there right now, you will suffer horrible indignities. The US State Department travel warnings are, merely, warnings. Much like hazard signs on the roadside. Just because a travel warning has been issued it doesn't mean that a catastrophe awaits you for sure. However, don't ignore your Government travel warnings because you just might risk losing your life.

The international travel warning list includes countries such as -
  • Congo
  • Algeria
  • Central African Republic
  • East Timor
  • Liberia
  • Guinea
  • Kenya
  • Burundi
  • Nigeria
  • Israel
  • Haiti
  • Indonesia
  • Lebanon
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Côte d'Ivoire
  • Nepal
  • Pakistan
  • Chad
  • Syria
  • Sri Lanka
  • Yemen
  • Iran
  • Sudan
  • Uzbekistan
  • Iraq
  • Afghanistan
  • Philippines
  • Eritrea
  • Somalia
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Colombia

Current US Travel Warnings

US State Dept travel warnings keep changing so be sure you check this site at least once before you plan your next foreign jaunt -
http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_1764.html

Travel Warning Israel

To give you an idea of what information you can determine from a travel warning, here is an example. In mid-Jan 2007, the State Department issued a travel warning for Israel, Jerusalem, the Gaza strip, as well as the West Bank. This US State Department travel warning superseded and over-wrote an earlier warning they had issued only 4 months ago in August 2006.

In the latter US State Dept travel warning, it was noted that the nation had problems pertaining to -
  • bombing of convoy from the US Embassy
  • threatened attacks on the USA
  • gun warfare and armed conflicts
  • kidnappings and abductions, especially of Westerners
  • violent demonstrations
  • assassinations
  • rocket attacks and suicide bombings
This Government travel warning urged US citizens to leave the area immediately and "avoid all travel to the Gaza strip." Certainly not an area conducive to profitable business or a peaceful holiday!

You maybe surprised - or shocked - to know that a similar Mexico travel warning was also issued by the government. Some Americans may find it very difficult to believe that so much violence and disturbances can erupt so close to home. Of course, the Mexico travel warning wasn't as hard or as extremist as the Israel travel warning, primarily because Mexico has a more stable political and religious tolerance than the troubled Middle-Eastern countries, but it goes to show that virtually no place on the face of the Earth can be considered a safe haven or a peaceful getaway.