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What is a Travel Advisory?

By A. Smith
Updated May 17, 2024
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Government agencies post travel advisories to provide information to the general public about safety when visiting or traveling to a specific destination. It's meant to help travelers make informed decisions so they can either avoid travel during specific times or to specific areas or adequately prepare to travel in a dangerous area. Such advisories also are posted if a government's embassy has been closed in a particular country, making officials there less able to lend aid to visiting citizens.

There are a number of things to which a travel advisory may relate. The most common of these include inclement weather, disease, and any civil unrest or security issues. For instance, if a country is holding a politically-heated election that is expected to become violent, a foreign government might issue a travel advisory to its citizens warning of possible civil unrest. The advisory in this case may include details of historical unrest in heated election situations and provide the dates of events surrounding the election so travelers can avoid those times.

A public advisory may be issued for an area plagued with some sort of disease as well. If a country has an outbreak of polio or rabies, an advisory might be issued that provides the specific regions affected and details on the extent of the outbreak. The public notice may even suggest ways that travelers can reduce their risk of getting the disease.

Most governments have websites offering easy access to travel advisories. In the United States, for example, the Center of Disease Control and the U.S. Department of State have websites that list detailed travel warnings. Government websites usually have advisories posted by region or by topic, such as disease-related advisories. These sites typically offer general travel information as well, and some even offer information on how to get emergency treatment while abroad.

Advisory agencies usually provide an array of information, such as what kinds of immunizations are recommended before traveling to a particular area. Information about dealing with prescription medications while abroad may be offered as well. For instance, some prescription medications that are legal in one country may not be in another; many travel advisory posts, especially those concerning health advisories, list this sort of information.

Travel advisory posts often also include information for citizens who may choose to visit a region regardless of the warning. It may notify citizens that their government is not approved to evacuate its citizen from the region if a dangerous situation, such as escalated violence during an election, should occur. It may also include how travelers can register with their respective embassies so their whereabouts will be known in case of an emergency or if a further security alert should be issued.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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