Travel Advisories

5 05 2009



             “I’d like a table by the bushes, please.”    (Cape Point, South Africa)



When early explorers and adventurers headed off to strange and exotic lands, they often had no clue what they’d face. There were no satellite photographs or guidebooks and often not even a map or first-person account. When they started trekking inland from the most accessible landing point, they had no idea whether it would be for weeks, months or years – not unlike today’s experience in many airport baggage halls.


If anything, today we have too much information and some of the wonder of discovery has been lost thanks to GoogleEarth, interactive 360-degree panoramic photos and webcams. Some would say you can never have too much information but when you can plot every step of the route from your beachside cabana to the swim-up bar using satellite photographs before you’ve even left home, modern technology might just be spoiling some of the sense of exploration that comes with a holiday! 


There is one source of information that should always be consulted before any travel, however – government travel reports.


The foreign affairs, external affairs or state departments of most governments have websites at which you can access detailed information about your travel destination. They provide an overview of all countries and their infrastructure, advise you what to avoid and to be wary of and give you contact details should you run into trouble. In addition to all of that, they also supply current travel alerts, advisories and warnings.


These travel advisories are more than just helpful, however. Many travel insurance companies won’t settle until their government’s travel advisory instructs travellers to avoid a particular destination completely and clients who travel to ‘black-listed’ countries may find their coverage suspended. In some countries, tour operators are legally bound not to take travellers to any country against which their government has issued such a warning.


Although the information is generally current and accurate, given that there are hundreds of countries to maintain it can sometimes take a government a frustratingly long time to lift a warning. I recall visiting Suriname and reading of problems with a violent rebel movement in the country’s interior. The description had me second-guessing my trip and fearing that I was venturing to a war zone. Once there I asked someone about the uprising, and, looking surprised, they replied that it had ended several years earlier! Other times warnings can be issued for political reasons that have more to do with embargoes, sanctions or poor relations than health or security issues. For these reasons it can therefore sometimes be useful to compare travel reports issued by several governments.


For more information, try the following:











Post by:  Simon Vaughan © 2009