What is the Difference Between a Travel Alert and a Travel Warning?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 October 2019
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The primary difference between a travel alert and a travel warning is that an alert acts as a notification of potential issues or concerns travelers may face in a country, while a warning is a form of alert that generally means that a government is discouraging people from traveling to a particular country. Various alerts may be issued for a number of reasons, including natural disasters, war, terrorist attacks, and medical concerns. Even with a warning issued, governments do not typically forbid travelers from going to any area.

Potential vacationers should keep in mind that both travel alerts and travel warnings are intended for their safety and the safety of the country as a whole. Both are issued to give travelers warnings before planning a trip to a particular location. For instance, if a disease outbreak is occurring in a particular area, a warning could be issued to discourage anyone from visiting until the threat is over. Those who choose to go anyway risk their own health, as well as those in their own country if they carry the disease back home.

One of the main differences between a travel alert and a travel warning is the severity of issues pertaining to each. An alert is generally issued for factors which are confined to certain regions or cities in a country, such as natural disasters or illnesses. Warnings may be issued during times of war or civil unrest because these are more likely to affect an entire nation.


Since the government in most nations does not prohibit travel to any country or area, those who choose to ignore a travel alert or a travel warning must do so at their own discretion. If there is an embassy in the country being visited, it is recommended that travelers take advantage of this during times of crisis. There is no guarantee of safety when one travels to a nation with frequent terrorist attacks or civil war. This is why, although not illegal, it is recommended that citizens adhere to government warnings.

There are some things to consider when deciding whether or not to travel to an area with a travel alert issued. If the problems are confined to a particular region, it is best to avoid that area. Attacks targeted at foreigners or random individuals are more concerning than those aimed at a particular local group of people. Many times, violence and other crimes are somewhat kept at bay more so in areas where tourists frequent to help prevent deflation of the local economy.


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Post 3

@irontoenail - That's true within reason. But I hate it when people travel to places where they have been told multiple times it isn't safe. If the locals say a place isn't safe, then don't go there. If your government recommends you don't go to a place because it isn't safe, then you should listen.

Government travel warnings aren't made lightly. And you end up putting other people in danger when they have to rescue you.

Post 2

@bythewell - You do have to make sure you weigh the dangers before going anywhere, but there are some places people might never visit if they listened to those travel advisory alerts.

There are places that often get alerts because of disease, but the diseases can easily be avoided if you take proper precautions.

Weather can also be an issue, but as long as you don't go somewhere during hurricane season, you should be fine.

And, as for the people, I think that's often just a matter for caution. I've seen travel alerts for the UK and I don't really think that traveling there would be any more unsafe in terms of terrorism risk than traveling anywhere else.

Living is a risk. Traveling is a risk. I think it's just a matter of knowing the risks and taking precautions rather than trying to avoid it altogether.

Post 1

It's a very good idea to check up on whether there are warnings or alerts for a particular country before you go. Even countries that have traditionally been vacation spots might suddenly become dangerous. Egypt for example was peaceful enough when my sister visited but a few months later there were protests and Westerners and women were advised to steer clear of the place.

Government travel warnings can be particularly useful, as sometimes there are threats specific to particular nationalities. There are parts of West Africa where Americans would be fine, but people from France or Canada might be targeted, because of the history of colonialism there.

Always keep your safety in the forefront of your mind while you're traveling and while you're planning your trip.

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