Travel Warnings:
Where Are the Danger Hot Spots?

Have you checked the latest travel warnings for Turkey, China, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Egypt, India, Mexico, Kenya or Japan?

Believe it or not, these popular backpacking destinations currently (that is, at the time of writing) pose high enough safety risks to travellers that official government travel advisories have been issued for at least some parts of these countries.

Security threats in these areas include:

  • large-scale demonstrations and spontaneous protests
  • indiscriminate bomb and grenade attacks
  • gang and drug-related violence
  • bus hijackings, armed robberies and banditry
  • kidnappings and abductions

That's some pretty serious stuff.

Yet not only do the majority of backpackers manage safe travel around these countries but millions of expats also call them 'Home'.

Here's what these travel advisories and travel alerts really mean to you!

travel warnings bangkok thailand Waves of suds – street cleaning after riots in Bangkok jayarc on Flickr

How Reliable Are Travel Alerts?

Before issuing a travel advisory, governments liaise with and collect up-to-date security information from a number of sources.

These can include:

  • overseas diplomatic missions (embassies, high commissions and consulates)
  • government departments and agencies involved in foreign affairs
  • non-governmental organisations (NGOs) abroad
  • intelligence services
  • travel advisories posted by other countries

This doesn't necessarily mean that if Canada posts a travel advisory for China, Australia will automatically follow suit. Each government prepares travel alerts specifically for its own citizens and has to take its own circumstances into consideration.

Don't ignore the advice but do evaluate it.

Will your travel insurance cover you if worse comes to worst?

orange arrow light yellowUse these 3 general rules of thumb from World Nomads to find out.

Travel Warning Levels

Most governments use a 3- or 5-level system to grade the severity of their travel warnings. These levels are based on the types of safety risks involved and how far-reaching they are.

Typical travel warning levels are:

  1. Take normal precautions.

  2. Be mindful of your personal safety, exercise common sense and steer clear of anything suspicious.

  3. Exercise caution.

  4. Stay particularly alert, take extra safety precautions and monitor the security situation carefully.

  5. Exercise extreme caution.

  6. Remain acutely aware of your personal safety at all times and be prepared for possible new security threats to develop.

  7. Avoid non-essential travel.

  8. Postpone your travel plans to this area. If you're already in the area when this level of alert is issued, you should consider leaving.

  9. Do not travel.

  10. Cross this place off your itinerary. It's currently so dangerous that your embassy may not even be able to assist you there.

travel warnings texas embassy london uk Hot fajitas sizzle at the Texas Embassy in London, UK Matthew Ernisse on Flickr

Official Travel Advisories
and Online Embassy Registration

You can access official government travel advice directly from the bolded links below. I've included links to the embassy registration pages as well, but you can also get to those by clicking through the websites.

Safe travels!

US Department of State
US citizens can register here

Foreign Affairs Canada
Canadians can register here

British Foreign and Commonwealth Office
British citizens can register here

Australian Department of Foreign Affairs
Australians can register here

New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs
New Zealanders can register here

Department of Foreign Affairs of Ireland
Irish citizens can register here

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Any thoughts? Leave a comment!