Understanding International Travel Advisories
Travelers are used to hearing about warnings and advisories about certain places around the world but it can be difficult deciphering government-issued advice telling you not to go somewhere. You can learn to understand international travel advisories by knowing why they are issued and learning how to find out their relevance to your particular travels. Many government-issued advisories also have a political undercurrent that may also affect the language and the nature of the warning itself. You can learn to use the warnings as an aide but continue traveling without fear with a bit of background knowledge. Let’s start with one of the most common warnings issued by a government, the State Department travel warnings. Much of the information about the State Department applies to other government warnings as well.
What The Warnings Cover
Part of the problem with the State Department travel warnings is that they cover an entire country, which really isn’t relevant to most travelers. Violence in remote parts of the Philippines may cause the State Department to issue a warning on the entire nation and if you didn’t know this might think the entire country is at war. You need to read the actual warning from the State Department website to find out exactly what areas of a country the warning covers. You can also use the State Department warnings and compare them to those released by the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which only cover an entire nation if required.
Make sure you look at the dates on the warnings. Both the date of when the warning was issued and last updated as well as any dates in the warning about specific threats. You’ll often find that many warnings are months or years old. Some of the warnings may also have expiration dates. If those dates are close to being up and you have the time, wait to see how they are updated. You can also go online or check the news to see what the international travel safety situation maybe before then as well. Older warnings or those about to expire tell you things might be cooling off in the areas that were mentioned in the warning.
Also, consider the geopolitical relationship between any two countries when you read a warning from one government about another place. This won’t be stated on the warning but use some common sense to gauge whether or not a particular advisory is especially harsh. It’s not official but the relationship between two countries often influences how to travel warnings are issued.
Warnings Aren’t Usually About Tourist Areas
In most countries, the popular tourist areas are safe from violence if you follow the local advice. Some towns or parts of towns might not be that safe at night but governments know how much money tourist brings in and tries to keep things orderly as best they can. Most travelers tend to stick to the touristic areas and if that’s you only those parts should concern you when reading any international travel advisories.
Some More Tips
Compare international travel advisories with as many sources as practical, using the lists that most governments around the world compile. Read the warnings carefully and eliminate the places within those nations you aren’t visiting from your consciousness. Also, consider if you’ll be traveling with or to a local you know since that will help you eliminate a number of issues. Don’t overreact to the international travel advisories and take them with a grain of salt. Read the warnings carefully, check the news online, and get in touch with the tourism board of the country if possible to find out what’s really safe and not.