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Stay Alert – Travel Advisories from the US Department of State

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The US Department of State released a new and improved travel advisory system for international travelers. Now it’s easier than ever before to stay updated on any potential health and safety risks you may come across in your travels.

There are four basic levels of travel advisories that travelers can refer to whenever they check the State Department website. Countries labeled Level One are at the lowest advisory level, and travelers should exercise normal precaution. There will always be some risk associated with travel, and it’s important always to travel prepared, but Level One areas generally do not require any extra precautionary measures.

At the Level Two label, travelers should know that there is a heightened safety risk in the designated area. The conditions that lead to this label differ from country to country, so it’s important to read about the specific explanation on each country page.

If a country is labeled with a Level Three advisory, travelers are strongly encouraged to reconsider their plans altogether. Finally, Level Four is the highest advisory level and often indicates life-threatening risks. It’s important to remember that if an emergency occurs internationally, the US government may not be able to help US travelers right away or at all depending on the current conditions.

Alerts can include disasters and extreme weather conditions too.

What determines a country’s level designation? The State Department examines crime rate, terrorism, civil unrest, health risks such as disease outbreaks and natural disasters. Another risk that may result in a temporary higher travel advisory level would be a major event such as an election or sporting event.

Travel alerts will often be clear and to the point, providing travelers with information that is easy to understand and helps them make immediate decisions that will keep them safe. The alerts will specify a location within the country, describe the event that has led to the travel advisory and then list actions to take; such as, areas to avoid, symptoms to watch out for and what to do if you become affected. The travel alert will also provide contact information for institutions that can provide assistance such as the nearest US embassy and State Department Consular Affairs.

When we’re planning the trip of our dreams, it’s easy to get caught up in the fantasy and overlook any potential obstacles or risks associated with our plans. But it’s just as important to travel informed. Researching health and safety risks should go right alongside investigating the top things to see and do in the destination of your choice. Luckily the State Department provides an all-in-one resource for learning not only about travel advisories but also how to prepare for entry and exit requirements as well as local laws and customs.

Stay informed at the State Department website: travel.state.gov/destination and on Facebook and Twitter.

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