The U.S. Government issues informational updates for potential travel destinations for citizens. These updates are issued as warnings or alerts. They are not the same thing and understanding the difference is the key to avoiding problems.
First things first, the government will not bar you from traveling to some area because there is some problem there. It may strongly discourage you, but there is no accounting for stupidity and one gets the feeling the State Department views the overly adventurous travel as part of the herd that needs to be thinned out. Regardless, you are responsible for yourself when abroad, so know what you are getting into.
When it comes to travel disclosures, the State Department is the agency usually in charge of keeping people updated. You can visit the government site to see the latest information on your destination. When problems crop up, the State Department will issue either a travel alert or warning for a destination. Most people assume they are the same thing, but they are not. Let’s take a closer look.
A travel warning is used to apprise you of long term problems at the destination of your choice. For instance, there has been a drug war going on in Mexico just across the border with the United States. This war has led to gruesome murders and shootouts on the streets. Frankly, it almost looks like a bad action movie from Hollywood. This has been going on for a while and is anticipated to continue for many more months. It is really bad time for Americans to be heading over the boarder in the war, so the State Department has issued a travel warning.
A travel alert is similar to a travel warning, but usually refers to a singular event or multiple events that happen at or about the same time. Earlier this year, the people of Thailand began taking over the airports to protest their corrupt government. After a few weeks, the government was dissolved and things returned to normal more or less. Since this was a short term event, the State Department issued a travel alert.
So, how should you incorporate these into your travel plans? Well, you are probably planning ahead of time for your trip. If you see a travel warning, you might want to consider another destination because the current problem will probably still exist when your trip gets off the ground. In contrast, you can probably ignore travel alerts for the most part because they will resolve by the time your trip comes around.
Traveling is a great way to explore the world. That being said, walking into a volatile zone is not the smartest move. Before taking off on a trip, make sure to check the website of the State Department for any problems in the area.