Dept. of State issues new travel advisory system

A color-coded map, found on travelmaps.state.gov, indicates the threat levels found in each country. The blue stars represent U.S. embassies and the red stars represent Consulate General. State Department travel advisories describe risks found within each country and provide clear actions U.S. citizens can take to ensure their own safety.

A color-coded map, found on travelmaps.state.gov, indicates the threat levels found in each country. The blue stars represent U.S. embassies and the red stars represent Consulate General. State Department travel advisories describe risks found within each country and provide clear actions U.S. citizens can take to ensure their own safety. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of State – Bureau of Consular Affairs)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- As travel season begins, it is important to remain mindful when traveling to a foreign country.

One must remain vigilant of the overall threat-level in a foreign country, and of one’s immediate surroundings.

The U.S. Department of State has released a travel advisory system that provides guidance on what U.S. citizens should expect when traveling to a foreign country.

The system uses a scale of one through four, where each country is assigned a number indicating how safe the country is to travel.

Level one indicates normal conditions and standard precautions should be exercised. The second level indicates increased hazardous conditions and travelers should exercise extra caution. With a level three designation, there is an increased presence of danger, and U.S. citizens should reconsider traveling to those countries. Lastly, a level four ranking indicates a high presence of danger and traveling to these countries is prohibited.

Currently, the level four countries are Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

State Department travel advisories include descriptions of the risks found within individual countries and provide clear actions U.S. citizens should take to help ensure their own safety. Travel advisories for foreign countries can change often so it is important to check their status frequently before traveling.

“I’d recommend reading the most current travel advisory alert prior to any official or leave travel,” said Mr. Darren Stastny, Air Force Installation Mission Support Center force protection security specialist. “This travel advisory alert system gives you a sense of what the local threat situation is and allows you to be aware before you leave.”

Additionally, U.S. embassies and consulates abroad provide alerts to inform U.S. citizens of specific safety and security concerns in a country, such as demonstrations, crime trends, and weather events.

Crime may still occur in low-threat level countries, however. This is why it is important to exercise situational awareness in any foreign environment.

Master Sgt. Daniel Camacho, 86th Security Force Squadron anti-terrorism force protection noncommissioned officer in charge, stresses the importance of remaining aware of one’s surroundings, especially when on vacation.

“I think it is important to lower your signature when traveling to foreign countries,” said Camacho. “It is important to dress to the area you are in, in an attempt to blend in more and you should familiarize yourself with these areas before traveling there. You have to have an emergency plan wherever you go these days.”

To access country travel advisories, visit https://travel.state.gov.