How seriously do you take official travel warnings?

Travel Forums General Talk How seriously do you take official travel warnings?

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1. Posted by Teoni (Respected Member 606 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

A reply to a post got me thinking are we a little blasé when it comes to traveller warnings or are some travel warnings over exaggerated? I was looking at my own country's website and places like Egypt have a reconsider travelling there warning and yet our local tour operators are still sending people over there and I have heard of enough people travelling on their own despite the extreme warning. Russia and Iran have very dangerous rating for travel and yet there seems to be a boom of travellers from here to there. I myself would have to admit unless it is off the back of a natural disaster or a full war has just broken out I don't take travel warnings that seriously and it hasn't stopped me going to some places listed as reconsider travelling.

What is your take on travel warnings? Should we regard them as suggestions or should we be taking them more seriously?

2. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 809 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

Iran is on the Level 4 DO NOT TRAVEL list and Russia is on the Level 3 - Reconsider List here in the US
Egypt is only level 2 - Exercise increased Caution, and the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark are also on that list.

Like you, I personally feel that some of the warnings are CTA (cover their a$$). Some areas of some countries are dangerous - some areas of some cities are dangerous, but other areas are just fine. You can get into trouble anywhere if you get falling down drunk.

Actually I don't usually check the warnings unless I am taking a grandchild and have a nervous parent to deal with. One of my son-in-laws is a more of a worrier, and one daughter and son-in-law have not let me travel with any of their children to any location.

3. Posted by Borisborough (Moderator 1109 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

It depends! I always have a look and decide whether or not the UK's FCO website (the NZ advisories seem to be similar to the UK ones but with a detailed list of the latest incidents) agrees with the reports I know of from travellers who have been to that particular country. Having said that, we're planning to visit Somaliland, Eritrea and Sudan at the end of the year.

4. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 1253 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

It depends. If the risk is muslim extremists who'll see white people as targets, I stay away. I wouldn't hurry to Mali or Afghanistan on that basis.

On the other hand I've been to countries with advisories, and stayed away from the hotspots. Sri Lanka during the civil war, the people were lovely and a number of times people thanked us for not staying away as so many tourists did. I'm going back to Ukraine soon, I'll stay away from the eastern part and don't expect to see a whiff of trouble. Russia, I've never had a problem, but then I look like a Russian, and the authorities are watching for possible terrorists from Dagestan etc so they hassle people with darker skin.

[ Edit: Edited on 09-Oct-2018, at 23:10 by AndyF ]

5. Posted by Stefmuts (Budding Member 125 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

It depends, the Dutch travel warnings map work with 4 colours: green; no risk, yellow; beware, orange: only nessisary travels and red; no go area (example: Iran )
I would stay away from the red areas, green and yellow are no problem and orange depends, needs more looking into. I'm not afraid of terrorist attacks, they can happen everywhere and as I'm living in Belgium it would mean I had to be afraid to even go outside. I think every big city has some kind of terrorist risk, If not from Islam terrorists it's from conflict areas so would you ban big cities all together for that reason? I won't.

6. Posted by ToonSarah (Travel Guru 717 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

As I live in London, where the threat level is currently at severe and has been for some time, the potential for terrorist attacks would not put me off. And we have just booked a trip for next year to N Korea which is on the UK Foreign Office no go list - but it was put on that list last year when the situation was much less stable than it currently is, and I reckon should have been taken off by now. Nevertheless we have had to take out specialist insurance because our regular cover excludes any country the FCO warn against. I would certainly avoid active war zones, but would consider going more or less anywhere else, including Iran, for example.

7. Posted by Andrew Mack (Respected Member 451 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

Although I do check the gov travel recs, I check a few other sources as well before making a decision, and I'd only check places I know are a potential problem or I've never visited previously.
Having grown up in London and worked in the City during much of the bombing period, I'm not easily scared, but there's a point where it becomes less fun, so I wouldn't go to a place I was uncomfortable with as I want to go to these places to enjoy myself.
I wouldn't visit West Africa for 2 reasons, firstly because it's a place that's never interested me, and secondly because the stability of both the political and religious situation there makes me very uncomfortable.
I think it's the religious aspect that causes me concern around the world.
As an Atheist I don't understand why anyone follows any organised religion, but there are a few very 'aggressive' religions which make me most nervous.
I'm aware that there are really very few 'radicals' and that many issues are just bandits/thieves etc using religion as a cover for their behaviour, so I would go to places like Davao, Mindanao (In PH) but I'd be very careful outside of Davao and extremely cautious whilst there.
The complete lack of logic in the dealings of North Korea would stop me considering the place until it's opened up a lot more than it has so far. I'd be concerned that KJ-un may get out of bed the wrong side, have a deal go bad involving the UK and decide that any UK nationals were going to stay as his guests (not in a good way) until the UK had changed the deal.

[ Edit: Edited on 10-Oct-2018, at 08:07 by Andrew Mack ]

8. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 809 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

I feel that issuing warnings based on previous terrorist attacks are closing the barn door after the horses have escaped. (reactionary). OTOH I do not agree with the idea that if we stay away from areas of previous or possible future attacks that is "letting them win". It seems sensible to me to stay out of actual war zones etc.

I have ignored the warnings that people have given me not to go to various places (St. John USVI, Barbados, Nassau Bahamas, St. Lucia, and Colombia to name a few). I have gone to places which my daughter who is in computer security for the government has said that she would not be allowed to go. Implication that I should not go either.

9. Posted by Beausoleil (Travel Guru 801 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

I used to go to Haiti all the time despite the travel warnings, but it was for work and I knew the people there and what was happening so wasn't worried. We went to Paris a week after Bataclan and it never occurred to us to cancel.

On the other hand, if it was an area I didn't know well and there was a travel warning, I'd pay attention to it. I would certainly never go to an active war zone because I might put someone else in danger and that's not fair. They have enough to worry about without ancient tourists wandering loose on the ground.

10. Posted by Tabithag (Full Member 125 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

I look at the UK advice, and find that most of the time it is reasonably sensible. There are lots of warnings, but often they are of the 'take reasonable care and precautions' type, rather than just don't go. Sometimes there is a particular area of a country that is recommended to avoid, and I tend to take that more seriously. Generally speaking I'd tend to avoid war zones, areas suffering from disasters (where I'd just be a hindrance they don't need), or if there seems to be a high risk of being targeted. I also live in London, so avoiding places just because there has been a terrorist attack seems irrelevant to me.

One thing I think it is sensible to consider though is the insurance position. I understand that some insurance companies don't cover places where the FCO advises against travel.