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What Do U.S. Travel Advisories Really Mean?

By Bianca Lambert

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Travel advisories can be confusing. Do you still book your trip after the warning goes up? Well, that depends.

In 2017, the government made a few changes to how they announce advisories to help minimize the confusion, but before I get to that, I want to break down the difference between a travel alert and travel warning.

A travel alert is issued for a limited period. For example, when a virus like Zika or H1N1 is prevalent, or there are demonstrations taking place in another country, the government will temporally advise citizens to proceed to those areas with caution. Travel warnings, on the other hand, can be ongoing and last for years, in countries that are currently experiencing civil unrest or where crime is on the rise — and the U.S. State Department advises travelers to rethink visiting the countries under a warning in general.

Again, understanding how this will affect your travel plans can be confusing, so the government has come up with a number and color system to help put the advisories into perspective.

The levels go from one to four:

Level 1: Blue — Exercise Normal Precautions


Level 2: Yellow — Exercise Increased Caution

Level 3: Orange — Reconsider Travel

Level 4: Red — Do Not Travel

Before you consider canceling your trip to a country on this list, it’s important to remember not every part of that region is going to be “dangerous.” When traveling, it is necessary to be vigilant and aware of your surroundings. So be sure to look into pay attention to advisories, especially those that are health-related, but don’t let them deter you from planning the trip of a lifetime.

If you have more questions or want to check out the updated list of countries on the travel advisory list, check out this link.

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Bianca Lambert

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