Tag Archives: travel warnings

Hurricanes, Typhoons and Tropical Cyclone while TravelingTravel Advice During Hurricane or Typhoon Seasons

The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the Hurricane and Typhoon Seasons in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico.Hurricane and Typhoon Season will last through November 2017, though most tropical cyclones typically develop between May and October. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recommends that those in hurricane  and typhoon prone regions begin preparations for the upcoming seasons now. This Travel Alert expires on December 1, 2017.

Hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean

The Atlantic Basin, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea:  Hurricane Season in the Atlantic began June 1. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center expects a 45 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 35 percent chance of a near-normal season, and only a 20 percent chance of a below-normal season. NOAA predicts a 70 percent chance of 11 to 17 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of those, five to nine are predicted to strengthen to a hurricane (winds of 74 mph or higher) and two to four are expected to become major hurricanes (with winds of 111 mph or higher, ranking Category 3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale). NOAA recommends that those in hurricane-prone regions begin preparations for the upcoming season now.

Hurricane Season in the Pacific Ocean

The Eastern Pacific:  Hurricane season in the Eastern Pacific began on May 15, 2017. NOAA expects a near- or above-normal season, with a 40 percent chance of an above-normal season, a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, and a 20 percent chance of a below-normal season. NOAA predicts a 70 percent chance of 14 to 20 named storms, of which six to eleven are expected to become hurricane strength. Of those, three to seven are expected to become major hurricanes (Category 3, 4, or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale).

Western and Central Pacific:  Typhoon season in the Western and Central Pacific runs from June 1 to November 30. NOAA’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center (CPHC) predicts an 80 percent chance of a near or above normal season. CPHC expects five to eight tropical cyclones to affect the central Pacific this season. For information on typhoon warnings, please consult the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Honolulu , the National Weather Service’s Central Pacific Hurricane Center , and the Regional Specialized Meteorological Center (RSMC) Tokyo – Typhoon Center .

In the past, travelers were forced to delay travel (including return travel to their home country) due to infrastructure damage to airports and limited flight availability. If you are planning to travel to regions of the world often affected by hurricanes, typhoons, or cyclones, visit our Tropical Storm Season – Know before You Go page for more information about the potential dangers and inconveniences associated with your travel before finalizing plans.

If you live in or are traveling to storm-prone regions, prepare by organizing a kit in a waterproof container that includes a supply of bottled water, non-perishable food items, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, any medications taken regularly, and vital documents, especially your passport and other identification. Emergency shelters often provide only very basic resources and may have limited medical and food supplies. For additional tips, visit NOAA and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

To prepare yourself before you go:

Read Travel Insurance During Hurricane Season or see the State Department’s travel website  for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, and learn about Travel Alerts. Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)  to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. Call 1-888-407-4747  toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444  from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Terrorist Attacks While Abroad - Stay SafeAdvice for Being Prepared in Case of a Terrorist Attack

While the allure of international travel is greater than ever, it is not as safe as it was once. The world has changed. Terrorism needs to be a consideration when planning your next trip abroad. The U.S. Department of State issued a Worldwide Caution to all U.S. citizens traveling to help increase awareness and vigilance in going abroad.

Making wise choices and planning ahead will help you to travel safely. A little organization before your trip can help you be prepared and alleviate stress if terrorist attacks happen while you are traveling.

Smart Traveler Enrollment Program

For U.S. citizens, the Bureau of Consular Affairs, a service of the U.S. Department of State, offers the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

STEP is a service available to all U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the closest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Enrollment in the program is simple. Just visit: step.state.gov/step.

With a simple online enrollment, it is easy to participate in STEP. For frequent travelers, create a secure account for all your trips.

The Department of State details the benefits of enrolling in STEP as follows:

  • Receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country to help you make informed decisions about travel.
  • Help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency.
  • Help family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.

Research Travel Advisory, Warnings and Alerts

We created an article for clients explaining Travel Advisories and Alerts. Educate yourself on the differences and keep up to date on notifications. If you are on Twitter, follow @IntInsurance for automatic alerts and warnings updates. Stay up to date at:

  • https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/alertswarnings.html
  • https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories
  • https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Invest in Insurance that with a Terrorism / Political Evacuation Benefit

Most comprehensive travel insurance plans include coverage for terrorist acts as part of the trip cancelation and interruption insurance. When purchasing insurance, it is important to research ahead of time and ask questions to ensure you are purchasing the plan best suited to your needs.

Two plans we recommend as they include Political Evacuation and Terrorism Coverage:

The confidence that comes from having good insurance can allow you peace of mind while you travel.

Keeping Safe During an Attack

The first thing to do if you find yourself in the midst of an attack is to get to a safe place.

The British National Counter Terrorism Security Office issued a article detailing what to do. The advice can be summarized as follows: RUN. If you can’t RUN, HIDE.

Notifying Friends and Family

Family and friends at home would naturally be concerned if they knew you were in an area where an attack occurred. 

You can be proactive in helping your friends and family know that you are safe. Provide them with an accurate, detailed itinerary, including contact information, before you leave. This would allow an embassy to focus on those who really need help.

You may also wish to take advantage of programs like Facebook’s Safety Check, which allows for family and friends to check in with each other in an emergency situation.

After an Attack – Next Steps

If you are injured or require emergency help, contact your local embassy.

Prior to your trip, you can visit usembassy.gov to determine the embassy or consulate closest to you. Contact information is available for you to bring with you or provide to family or friends.

In the case of an emergency, call 888.407.4747. The U.S. State Department operates this number 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Remember, this number should be reserved for use only if you are injured or it is an emergency situation.

For more information on travel safety, visit travel.state.gov.

Travel Alerts and WarningsUpdated Travel Warnings for Mexico

The U.S. State Department has updated its travel warnings to Mexico due to threats by organized criminal groups in the country and in light of mass kidnappings in the state of Guerrero involving 43 missing students. The exceptions in this state are tourist focused cities, such as Acapulco, Zihuatanejo, Ixtapa, Taxco, and the caves at Grutas de Cacahuamilpa. Regardless, the warning encourages travelers highly to exercise good common sense and safety precautions. Tourists are advised to remain in hotel zones, avoid highway travel, and stay in tourist friendly areas.

Student Kidnappings in Mexico

Sparked by the increase in organized crime, U.S. citizens are advised against unnecessary travel to Mexico and especially avoid any public protests at all costs. On September 26, 2014, 43 students from Guerrero left on a trip to Iguala to protest deficient funds for their school, and haven’t been heard from since. There has been rumor that they were kidnapped and massacred, but at the time of this publishing, there is limited updates on the situation. However, 74 individuals have since been arrested due to their connection to the kidnappings, and one student’s body has been identified. As a result of the incident, protests have been common across Mexico, including popular tourist destination, Acapulco.

Ungovernable State of Guerrero

In 2013, Guerrero was considered the most dangerous state in Mexico with its high homicide and kidnapping rate. Despite this warning, tourists are still permitted to visit the Guerrero city of Acapulco, but with caution. Traveling via highway is strongly discouraged, and road travel must only be done during daylight hours. Lodging must be limited to the hotel zone for travelers’ safety. In addition, tourists are encouraged to dress plainly and simply and avoid displaying their economic status with expensive jewelry, technology, or cameras. Being aware of your surroundings, staying alert, and avoiding situations where you could be placed in danger (such as a pickpocketing or otherwise) are of the utmost importance in staying safe.

Is Mexico  Safe for Travelers

Despite these warnings, U.S. Citizens and foreigners alike are not the targets of such crime. In fact, much of Mexico is safe for travelers as long as they stick to tourist areas and destinations. Most of the violence and corruption capturing the headlines in international news are within Mexico amongst organized crime groups and target specific individuals. While some involve tourists, most are within in-country groups. States that do not have an advisory in place are: Campeche, Chiapas, Guanajuato, Hidalgo, Mexico City, Oaxaca, Puebla, Queretaro, Quintana Roo, Tabasco, Tlaxcala, and Yucatán. Most other states have safe cities where you may travel to, but nonessential travel is discouraged.

Safety Tips for Travelers to Mexico

When traveling, vacationing, and living in Mexico, it’s important to stay abreast of current developments. While most tourist destinations are largely safe and highly protected due to the significant economic benefits tourism provides for the country, it’s vital to remain vigilant, read a variety of news channels (such as CNN World, and the BBC), and avoid cities under strict travel warnings. Casinos and various gambling establishments tend to be a target, so be mindful of if (and when) you plan an outing to such establishments. Many are open late hours, but going during daylight hours and with a group are best for your wellbeing. In the event that you’ll need to cancel your trip due to organized crime activity, your best preparation is to purchase travel insurance.

Also Read:

Follow these Top Twitter Feeds for Travel Safety Tips and Advice

Twitter for TravelOne of the best ways to stay up-to-date with current safety and travel happenings in your local area is via Twitter. Even if you don’t want to tweet yourself, you can create an account to solely follow relevant people, feeds, and hashtags to get instant news on weather, safety, and even suggestions for your travel destination. If you want to take it a step further, interacting and sharing a concern can help a fellow traveler with your to-the-minute knowledge. Below is our compilation of our top ten Twitter feeds to follow for travel safety.

  1. FEMA During times of crisis, this Twitter feed is active in sharing critical information via Twitter alerts. If you’re only going to follow one from this list, FEMA is a good choice to make with recommendations on how to survive winter travel and much more. Peruse their feed to find regional FEMA accounts relevant to your location.
  2. CDC Travel Health When traveling internationally, it’s key to follow CDC Travel Health for illness and injury prevention. From Ebola updates to holiday travel tips via their podcast, CDC Travel Health provides accurate, current information on critical health trends from around the world.
  3. HuffPost Travel All things related to travel, from suggestions on how to keep your lips from getting chapped to top airports to avoid in the winter, HuffPost travel encompasses all aspects of travel safety (and beyond).
  4. AAATravel The same company that helps you with a flat tire alongside the road also runs the gamut with #TravelForecasts, staying safe while traveling by boat, and even hiking precautions.They additionally share their AAA verified hotels, leaving you with vouched options and less headaches.
  5. Peter S. Greenberg As travel editor for CBS News, Peter brings in tips on expediting your passport, what you should know when traveling with a cold, and how to avoid traveling with a blocked credit card. Want to know airport security wait times before you head to the airport? Give him a follow for all his insider tips.
  6. Sully Sullenberger Former captain for US Airways, Sully knows the open skies and the open road better than most–so much that he’s now a Safety Consultant and an Aviation and Safety Expert for CBS News. Follow him to read a basic explanation on turbulence and how fatigue threatens travel.
  7. Breaking News Travel More focused on mass transportation updates, Breaking News Travel keeps you current on large scale airport and train issues that could impact your journey.
  8. NBC News Travel Covering the woes and wonders of all things related to travel, NBC News Travel is a knowledgeable source on issues in the sky and on the ground. Giving them a follow will show you how you to stay safe in all aspects of travel.
  9. Department of State Frequent international traveler? Keep up-to-date on related travel and safety warnings around the globe by following the U.S. Department of State.
  10. etravelsafety Security measures, travel precautions on international locations, and airport safety tips encompass some of the many different pieces of advice etravelsafety offers to its followers. 

And one additional suggestion: @JoeCronin_ an expert in international health and travel insurance (as well as our CEO, Joe Cronin) Our team is building a better resource for world travelers to buy insurance (InternationalInsurance.com /  @IntInsurance) . Our mission is to educate consumers on the value of travel insurance and provide a resource for them to research, compare and purchase plans for their international trip.

Travel Warnings, Alerts and NotificationsI was talking with a friend about a recent travel alert posted by the State Department.  He asked me if it was an Alert or a Warning.  At the time, I was not sure of the difference so I decided to look into it.  According to Wikipedia:

“A travel warningtravel alert, or travel advisory is an official warning statement issued by a government agency to provide information about the relative safety of traveling to or visiting one or more specific foreign countries or destinations. The purpose is to enable travelers to make an informed decision about a particular travel destination, and to help travelers prepare adequately for what may be encountered on their trip. In the United States, travel warnings are issued by the Department of State.

What is the Difference Between a Travel Warning and Alert

Not a lot of help understanding the differences so I looked further and found the following:

Travel Alerts: They issue a Travel Alert for short-term events they think you should know about when planning travel to a country. Examples of reasons for issuing a Travel Alert might include an election season that is bound to have many strikes, demonstrations, or disturbances; a health alert like an outbreak of H1N1; or evidence of an elevated risk of terrorist attacks. When these short-term events are over, we cancel the Travel Alert.

The Dept. of State issues a Travel Warning when they want you to consider very carefully whether you should go to a country at all. Examples of reasons for issuing a Travel Warning might include unstable government, civil war, ongoing intense crime or violence, or frequent terrorist attacks. We want you to know the risks of traveling to these places and to strongly consider not going to them at all. Travel Warnings remain in place until the situation changes; some have been in effect for years.

From what I can tell, a Travel Advisory is, more generally, either an alert or a warning issued by the US or another country.  Travel advisories are simply travel and health notices pertaining to the general safety in various foreign destinations.  They may provide information and updates for travelers on matters that may concern terrorism, public crime, civil unrest,  public and personal security, disease and weather.  Some resources for advisories are found below: