With consumer confidence the highest it’s been in four years, and with overall travel numbers for the first eight months of 2017 up 5.3 percent over the same period in 2016 (23.1 million trips—not counting single-day, cross-border travel), it appears that Canadians will be taking to the roads, skies, and seas in near-record numbers in 2018.1
That’s a good thing. But with increasing options to visit farther-flung locations coming available, you will also have to become astute navigators and travel planners. What may be a prime vacation or tour destination one day can generate warning signals overnight that need to be spotted, heeded, and avoided.
Fortunately, with phone and online access to government travel advisories instantly available, there is no reason for you to be short of current information when either planning or embarking on any trip to any location—and you should take no location’s safety for granted.
For example, if you were tuned in to the Canadian government travel advisory site at the time of writing this article, you would have found the UK under an elevated “exercise a high degree of caution” (threat of terrorism) warning, and South Korea under a benign “exercise normal security precautions” advisory. Regardless what you might expect, travel these days can be a topsy-turvy experience.
Does that mean you should cancel your trip to London? Certainly not. But it does suggest you should follow local advisories while in the UK, and stay alert.
Visit the Canadian government’s travel advisories to see what the most up-to-date warnings are for other locations around the globe. At the time of writing, we also found the following advisories in effect: Pakistan, Bangladesh, Lebanon, Egypt, West Bank and Gaza Strip were all under “avoid non-essential travel” advisories, with some regions within them under “avoid all travel” warnings.
What the warnings mean
“Avoid non-essential travel” and “avoid all travel” warnings have more than cautionary implications.
If you travel into an area that your government has warned you to avoid, your travel insurance policy may limit your benefits or invalidate them. In some cases your insurer may give you a day or two to get out of the specified “warning” area before invoking limits, but in such case you had best call your insurer immediately and get advice about what you need to do. These are serious warnings; you need to pay attention to them.
Just a notch below the “avoid travel” level of warnings are those advising travellers to “exercise a high degree of caution” in specified countries or regions within countries. For example: current locations with this level of warning include Mexico (Canada’s second-most popular tourism location after the US), the Bahamas (especially Nassau and Freeport), Costa Rica, and even the Dominican Republic, which are listed as countries with dangerous areas due to crime, kidnappings, muggings, robberies, or worse. Mexico also has whole regions of the country under “avoid non-essential travel” warnings. So do Thailand and the Philippines, both highly popular among Canadian tourists and family visitors.
Also currently under “exercise a high degree of caution” warnings, besides the UK, are Belgium, Israel, India, Indonesia, China, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia, Brazil, and many more. Again, this level of warning does not mean that you should cancel plans to visit these countries or that they are innately dangerous, but there are areas of concern and you need to be watchful and follow local safety and security instructions.
And don’t forget about Hurricane Alley
Even what were once known as idyllic “islands in the sun” are now under a shadow of concern due to the 2017 hurricane season’s destruction: the British and US Virgin Islands, Dominica, Sint Maarten/Saint Martin, Puerto Rico, Barbuda, St. Barts—all suffered serious damage from Maria and/or Irma in September and should be investigated before you fly out for your vacation.
Depending on which part of the world you are travelling to, you might also find it useful to refer to any or all of the following online sites which have varying degrees of detail on specific locations—usually geared to the travel preferences of their own citizens. For example, if you’re planning a trip to Thailand or Bali, you might well want to see how the neighbouring Aussies view the risks and rewards.
Just click on your country of interest for more advisories:
1. This data is courtesy of the Conference Board of Canada.