Distinguishing between a U.S. State Department Travel Warning and Travel Alert

The last day of the Hong Kong Umbrella Revolution. Photo: Studio Incendo

The ability to travel and enjoy the world is one of the most enriching experiences one can ever have.  Although we’re noticing civil unrest in certain parts of the world today, every country presents some unpredictability.  A responsible traveler is also an informed traveler and the U.S. State Department regularly informs the American public of conditions abroad that may affect their safety and security.  These notices come in the form of Travel Alerts or Travel Warnings.

Travel Alerts are cautionary notices about short-term conditions that pose significant risks to the security of U.S. citizens traveling to specific countries or regions.  Examples of conditions that might generate a Travel Alert include natural disasters, terrorist attacks, political demonstrations and international conferences or events.

Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends Americans avoid travel to a particular country because of the country is deemed dangerous or unstable. A warning is also issued when the U.S. Government closes its embassy or consulate or reduces the diplomatic staff, thereby limiting the ability to assist Americans citizens.

In order to assist Americans travel or residing abroad, the State Department has created the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  STEP is a free service to travelers and expats that allows the State Department to better assist Americans during an emergency. Travelers and Americans living abroad should routinely register with STEP as a measure of safety and security.  

 A responsible traveler is an informed traveler.   Visit the U.S. State Department website to see a current list of countries on the alerts and warnings lists.

About the Author

World Footprints co-host Tonya Fitzpatrick with a lot of monkeys on her back.

Tonya Fitzpatrick is the co-founder of World Footprints Media.  A self-described “recovering attorney”, she found her purpose as a cultural connector.  Tonya shares a life full of adventure, dark chocolate and champagne with her husband and business partner, Ian.   She has a deep love for animals and would be happy owning a zoo if she weren’t traveling. 


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