Myths about the State Department Travel Warnings

A recent worldwide travel alert issued by the State Department has recently expired, but that doesn’t mean you should stop paying attention to these as you prepare to travel. On the other hand, you need to read the alert carefully before you decide to cancel a trip that you have planned for months.
USA Today recently discussed five different myths about travel warnings from the U.S. State Department, and we picked a few we thought were worth pointing out.
Myth #1: “Travel warnings and alerts are the same thing.” They’re not. Travel warnings are just that, a warning. The State Department declares some countries and places that US citizens ought to think twice about traveling to because of the chronic state of affairs there, like Iraq or Afghanistan. Travel alerts are time specific and are generally issued when there are events happening in a specific country that US travelers should be advised of when planning their travel.
Myth #2: If a country has an alert or a warning issued for it, you should avoid it altogether. This statement would only be true if there was ongoing war or unstable government in that country. It would be like saying no one should go to France because of the terrorist attacks in Paris. While the entire country was shaken by this, there were no other threats for other cities in France. Examine the alert or warning with a map in hand so that you know whether or not where you’re going could be impacted by the information in the alert or warning.
Myth #4: I can’t expect State Department protection if I travel in spite of a travel alert or warning. Instead, the State Department suggests you sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This service makes it easier to receive security messages and to be located by the US government, should an emergency arise. Booking your trip with a travel agency also provides similar notifications.
Do you pay attention to the State Department travel alerts? How do you decide where to visit or not visit? Let us hear from you in the comments section below or on our Facebook page.
Photo credit: Coco Parisienne (Pixabay, Creative Commons)