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Travel Warnings: What Do They Mean For You?

Travelers Today       By    Karen Fredrickson

Updated: Oct 04, 2013 01:43 PM EDT

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Travelers gather at airport terminal
Travelers hear about warnings, but often don't know exactly what they mean.(Photo : Reuters)

Areas of the world with any kind of unrest often are the recipients of official travel warnings from the U.S. State Department, and Sherman Travel has discussed how they should impact upcoming trips.

Currently, any trips to the Middle East, including countries surrounding Syria and Egypt, as well as Syria and Egypt themselves, and subject to these official government warnings. 

But what do you do if the place you're headed to becomes the subject of a travel warning?

Currently, there are travel warnings for Pakistan, Turkey and Lebanon. Each warning contains different specifics.

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For travel in Pakistan, the government warns travelers of the dangers of U.S. citizens being "arrested, deported, harassed and detained." For travel in Turkey, the government warns travelers to "be alert for potential violence" and "avoid demonstrations and large gatherings." That warning is much less specific.

A travel warning doesn't legally prohibit travel to a country or region. It is simply intended to make those traveling aware of the circumstances and to encourage travelers to rethink their trips.

However, travel warnings don't address many practical and logistical issues of traveling to potentially dangerous areas, such as whether airports are open, hotels are accepting guests, whether public transportation is running and if regular businesses, such as restaurants, are operating normally.

To find answers to these types of questions, travelers should check the tourism boards and web sites for the areas they are traveling to. National airlines and hotels can also provide relevant information for travelers.

Another example is Jordan, which borders Syria, but has no travel warnings.  It's location, however, might cause travelers to think there is a problem, or at the very least, the potential for a problem. Contacting the airlines and hotels can assuage these worries by providing information about how things are running.

Regardless of official governmental travel warnings, it is essential for travelers to be aware of their surroundings, especially when traveling to areas of the world that are more unsettled.

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