Travel Alerts and Warnings:
Understanding the State Department’s Travel Alert for Europe
For Americans planning a trip abroad, State Department advisories can be confusing. Terms that may sound similar actually mean very different things for travelers.
In March, the State Department issued a Travel Alert for Europe. Alerts are issued for short-term events that the U.S. government believes Americans should know about when planning a trip. The current alert expires on June 20.
Travel Alerts are quite different from Travel Warnings, which the State Department also issues. The two are completely separate categories and are not interchangeable.
According to the U.S. Department of State's website:
Travel Alerts are issued for short-term events that you should be aware of when planning travel to a country. When these short-term events are over, the Travel Alert is canceled.
Travel Warnings are issued when you need to consider very carefully whether you should go to a country at all. Travel Warnings remain in place until the situation changes; some have been in effect for years.
An alert does not warn against travel to a particular region or country. The State Department is not warning against traveling to Europe but is alerting Americans to be aware of potential risks and to be vigilant, as always. It’s important to understand that the recent Travel Alert for Europe is in keeping with the longstanding Worldwide Caution that has been in effect for more than a decade.
A State Department alert offers the type of advice that travelers should keep in mind whenever and wherever they go abroad. That includes being aware of your surroundings, especially during festivals, in crowds and when using mass transit, being prepared for additional security screenings, monitoring information on the ground and factoring that into travel plans, following the instructions of local authorities and ensuring that family members know how to reach you in an emergency.
As part of preparations for a trip abroad, Travel Leaders recommends that Americans follow the advice of the State Department and register their plans through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. Enrollment will make it easier for the State Department to contact a traveler if there’s a family emergency, as well as alert travelers to important information about places where they’re heading. The State Department also has a helpful Traveler’s Checklist on its website.
The safety of their clients is the top priority for Travel Leaders agents, who want to ensure that a long-anticipated vacation goes off without a hitch.
Travel Leaders agents closely monitor the State Department website for alerts for all destinations, including the ones most popular with clients. They work with respected hotels, resorts, cruise lines, tour operators and others to keep informed about security precautions and to guard the safety of clients. Travel Leaders agents provide the most up-to-date information so that clients can make informed decisions about their travel plans.
All travelers, no matter what country they visit, can take precautions to help ensure their safety. Those steps include following your instincts to avoid risky areas, checking with tour guides and hotel officials about any large gatherings, respecting the laws of the country, avoiding the display of expensive-looking jewelry, large amounts of money or other valuables, checking medical insurance to make sure it covers overseas care and if it doesn’t, consider buying travel insurance, and checking with your cell phone provider to see if your phone is capable of roaming on international networks.
To learn more about the Travel Alerts and Travel Warnings currently in effect, click here to visit the U.S. Department of State's website.