Say you’re excited about an upcoming trip to Mexico but a concerned friend tells you that there is a ‘Travel Warning’ issued by the U.S. Department of State. What does this mean — and should you still travel to Los Cabos?
Here’s the official language on the U.S. page:
‘The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens about the risk of traveling to certain parts of Mexico due to the activities of criminal organizations in those areas. U.S. citizens have been the victims of violent crimes, including homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery in various Mexican states. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning for Mexico issued December 8, 2016.’
It goes on further to break it down by city and yes, Baja California Sur (which includes Los Cabos and La Paz) is included due to an uptick in homicides. Though often these killings are the result of warring drug lords, American citizens have in the past been caught in the middle. If you dig deeper, you’ll note that most of Mexico is under some kind of travel warning, for chronic problems. Travel Alerts, on the other hand, are for short-term events for when U.S. citizens are planning a trip to that country. For example, you’ll see travel alerts in place after a terrorist bombing in a country.
If there’s a travel BAN in place, as there is to North Korea, strike that off your itinerary. Quoting the State Department: ‘U.S. passports will be invalid for travel to, through and in North Korea, and individuals will be required to obtain a passport with a special validation in order to travel to or within North Korea.’
This ban came after the tragic case of Otto Warmbier, the 22-year-old American sentenced last year to 15 years hard labor in North Korea who, when he was finally sent back to the States, was in a coma and died soon after.
It’s good to be informed so check the State Department’s website, travel.state.gov, where you can search, country-by-country, for the most up-to-date security information on every travel destination in the world, but ultimately, the choice is up to you. Think what a shame it would be if we avoided London because of recent terrorist attacks.
It’s never a bad idea to enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) , which makes it easier to receive security messages and to be located by the U.S. government in the event of an emergency. And just as with any trip, carry thenearest U.S. embassy or consulate number and address with you.