Travel | March 2, 2017 9:00 am

Planning a Vacation? Here’s the Current State of Travel Warnings.

In safety, as in so many other things, everything's relative

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is the British equivalent of the State Department: responsible for Britain’s place in world affairs. One of its duties is to provide the same sort of travel advisories to its citizens as our State Department warnings and alerts.

Veteran travelers often look at both sets of advice to get a holistic sense of the situation on the ground in foreign countries — something vacationers might want to consider, given that the world at least seems to be getting both smaller and, sometimes, scarier. Given the ongoing investigation into an alleged lack of warnings against travel to Tunisia — where 30 sun-bathing Britons were killed in 2015 — FCO warnings are in the news. They advise against all travel to five countries, which you can probably guess: Yemen, South Sudan, Syria, Libya and Central African Republic. 

There’s more wriggle room, though, in the next tier of advisories: the 32 countries the FCO advises “against any form of travel in parts of the nation and against all but essential travel in other regions.” This includes Ukraine, Philippines, and Russia, among others. But these advisories often specify a single area: Ukraine might be fighting a war against Russia on its eastern border — but across the country in Lviv, you’ll find a beautiful, historically resonant tourism hotspot that’s a couple years away from a series of “the next Krakow” destination stories in glossy magazines. Our State Department singles out “the areas of the Sulu Archipelago, the southern Sulu Sea, and the region of Mindanao” in the Philippines; that leaves an awful lot of pristine, white-sand beaches. And while we might have an at-best uneasy relationship with Russia at the moment, visitors contemplating a trip to St. Petersburg would be foolish to miss it. 

Anyone who’s ever freaked out over an official advisory should remember this: Sometimes, we’re the target of them: “The United Arab Emirates, Bahamas, France, United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and Germany are among those urging caution to U.S.-bound travelers. The concerns include mass shootings, police violence, anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT attitudes and the Zika virus,” reported USA Today in August. And Frommer’s points out estimates of $185 million lost in trips not taken to the U.S. due to the so-called travel ban. In safety as in so many other things, everything’s relative.