Unless you’ve fallen completely off the grid and have given up all things news and social media, you know travel tension is now a thing and people have all sorts of opinions on where you can and can’t go with your family. Although our government’s travel warnings and advisories can feel like insurmountable road blocks for family vacations abroad, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, neither a warning or alert are necessarily cause to cancel your travel plans just yet. Here’s what to know before you go.
Know the Differences
Travel warnings and alerts are two different things, as are violent news headlines about an area that seems to play on a media loop. A travel alert is short term in nature, including terrorism threats and health crises. Such alerts are issued by the State Department because such incidents may put American citizens in danger. Meanwhile, a travel warning is issued if the government feels American citizens should avoid travel to a particular country altogether due to political instability or other issues. However, just because there may be a travel warning in Mexico, it’s important to know if the problem area is in a specific area, like the Yucatan, and not necessarily impacting the region your family is traveling to.
Get a Second Opinion
You may find there is no travel warning, but plenty of news headlines telling you to avoid travel to an entire country. But that doesn’t mean you should necessarily cancel your trip altogether. Don’t use the local news as your go-to source for travel information. Instead, look on forums on sites like TripAdvisor to see what people are saying about recent trips. Users frequently recommend steering clear of certain areas and neighborhoods, note what kind of scams are trending in an area or suggest what to look out for. You can also ask a trusted and seasoned travel agent for their thoughts to get more feedback on a specific area.
Take a Step Back
If you find the area you’re traveling to is still in good shape, but the country as a whole is not, take a step back. How big is the country and how far apart is the issue from where you’re headed? Next, ask yourself if you’ve done your due diligence and studied the travel warnings and looked for more feedback from the travel community. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to think about a scenario that hits close to home.
If someone from another country told you they wouldn’t travel to Orlando because crime in Detroit is too dangerous, what would you tell them? You should also consider that places like Washington, D.C. rank in the most dangerous cities in the U.S. list, but is a popular spot for families looking for a history lesson during school breaks. Will your travel really be impacted by issues in the area you’re visiting, or does it just require some common sense and heading indoors at night?
Look at Your Travel Insurance
If you bought a travel insurance policy, or if your credit card covers some of your travel insurance needs, you can always check to see what types of cancellations are covered. Typically, travel warnings and alerts aren’t reason enough for travel insurance to pay out for your trip, but they may cover injuries related to such incidents while traveling. Your best bet is finding a policy that covers cancellations for any reason if you think you may need to put your vacation plans on hold.
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