What can you learn from international travel advisories?

14 December 2023
What can you learn from international travel advisories?

Cautious US travelers are cognizant of and check the US State Department’s travel advisory system before traveling. They also tend to use the State Department’s STEP program when they travel abroad. The agency monitors the world for possible issues and issues warnings from Level 1 to 4, alerting US travelers about various threats, terrorist acts, spikes in crime rates, and contradictory enforcement of local laws, among other issues.

Non-US countries also have ways of advising their residents about foreign travel, including travel to the US. Countries also have issued warnings against travel to the US due to acts of violence and hate crimes.

Let’s see what other countries report about visiting the US and what you can learn from the advice they give their citizens.

The world is aware of America’s gun problem

It’s December 2023, and a series of mass shootings, which are defined as gun-related incidents in which four or more people die, pushed the US over its prior record.

2023 had the highest number of shootings – 38 to be exact – breaking the previous record of 36, which was reached in 2022.

And the year isn’t over yet. Here’s what other countries have to say about traveling in the US:

Australia warns its citizens about gun crime in the US and instructs Australians to stay aware of their surroundings, follow local guidance, and participate in active shooter drills if they live in the US.

“Violent crime is more common than in Australia. Gun crime is also prevalent. If you live in the US, learn and practice active shooter drills”

The United Kingdom reminds visitors to America that mass shootings can occur, and they account for a small percentage of tourist deaths. Still, the UK recommends that citizens review the US Department of Homeland Security active shooter event quick reference guide before traveling to America.

Japan has specific recommendations for its citizens if they encounter an active shooter situation, including:

  1. Know the security exits and have an evacuation plan
  2. Hide in a room and barricade the door with heavy objects
  3. Stay quiet and mute cell phones

Encountering a violent shooter is the biggest worry among international travelers when visiting the US.

Racism and Police Violence Is Noted

Many countries warn their citizens about the possibility of clashes over racism and police violence. 

  • Germany, specifically warns would-be visitors to avoid gatherings of people who appear to be protesting because of the possibility of police violence.
  • The Mexican government cautions visitors to some states about immigration laws restricting the transportation of people who are not in the US with the correct documentation.
  • Venezuela urges its citizens to take extreme precautions due to acts of racist violence and hate crimes.

In general, the warnings go like this: research the destination for racial tension before you go, and avoid crowds of people. If acts of racism or protests against racism are planned or have occurred recently, it may not be the best time to visit.

They also Warn about Crimes Targeting Individuals

New Zealand’s government warns its citizens about violent crime targeting individuals from the LGBTQIA+ community and those with diverse ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds.

The country’s SAFETRAVEL website also recommends increased caution related to terrorism, indicating that the US remains a target of terrorist interest and credible information assessed by US authorities indicates that attacks could be indiscriminate and target areas frequented by foreigners.

Border Crossings are a Place for Caution

The Canadian government’s biggest concern for citizens traveling to the US is to be aware of US-Mexico border crossings, recommending caution when traveling by car. Canadians are told to be aware of criminal incidents associated with drug trafficking and warned not to walk across the border at night.

US Public Decency Laws are Different

This one is particular to Germany whose citizens are more accustomed to going bare. Specifically, the German government warns against skinny dipping and topless sunbathing in the US.

What can you learn from these warnings?

Some are valid for your own travel plans within the US. Other are points to note when interacting with international visitors so that you can be aware and encourage without being insensitive to valid fears. Your awareness can help foster cultural understanding and contribute to a safer, more harmonious travel experience for everyone.

Damian Tysdal

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.