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Old Jul 4, 10, 10:53 pm   #1
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U.S. Govt State Department travel advisories

I find much useful information on the U.S. Govt website for International Travel. How much of the information do you take with a grain of salt or do you take the information given seriously?
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Old Jul 4, 10, 11:05 pm   #2
 
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Admittedly I am not American, but I find it tends to be overly cautious. I may compare it to other advisories but tend to do my own research and balance precaution with common sense. I have travelled to many areas listed as 'not safe' and not felt unsafe.
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Old Jul 4, 10, 11:28 pm   #3
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Admittedly I am not American, but I find it tends to be overly cautious. I may compare it to other advisories but tend to do my own research and balance precaution with common sense. I have travelled to many areas listed as 'not safe' and not felt unsafe.
A few years ago, I was trying to get a business deal involving Jordan and Israel in place (in the end, although both parties could have made a ton of money, politics trumped profits and the deal fell apart) and needed to organise a meeting with both the Israelis and the Jordanians. The Israelis consulted their government's web site, which cautioned them about travel to Jordan. The Jordanians went to the Jordan government web site, which warned them about what a dangerous place Israel is. Having been to both, I know that neither party was taking any more risk by travelling than by staying home, yet this effort was stalemated until the Israelis (minus a few members of their delegation) finally agreed to come to Amman (they had a great time, BTW).

Similar ironies exist with the USA -- the US Dept of State website portrays half the world as being awash in criminals, terrorists, identity thieves, con artists, and hostiles of various stripes, and hence it counsels caution in visiting. Yet most of these places are far safer than the United States, which has some of the most dangerous and violent cities in the world, equalled only by Mexico and South Africa. Most Americans are safer abroad than at home.
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Old Jul 5, 10, 12:24 am   #4
 
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Yet most of these places are far safer than the United States, which has some of the most dangerous and violent cities in the world
True. But you need to be more concrete. "Most of these places". You mean Kabul? Mumbai? Yemen? What "places" do you find so safe? By the way, anyone can ignore the warnings. But if your in a Mumbai hotel when crazies break in looking to machine gun tourists, don't say you weren't warned.
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Old Jul 5, 10, 5:20 am   #5
 
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I find much useful information on the U.S. Govt website for International Travel. How much of the information do you take with a grain of salt or do you take the information given seriously?
Iīve read a few of these advisories about cities in South America I have lived in over the years as a source of entertainment. They are ridiculously far fetched and exaggerated. They make every place sound terribly dangerous. I donīt think those sites are about protecting Americans abroad - I think they are like that so the US gov. can lay off claims in the off chance that something happens to a US citizen abroad. Its kind of like a "we told you sou, so we arenīt responsible" line of thought.

I would really like to know what they would write about some US cities...
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Old Jul 5, 10, 7:00 am   #6
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True. But you need to be more concrete. "Most of these places". You mean Kabul? Mumbai? Yemen? What "places" do you find so safe? By the way, anyone can ignore the warnings. But if your in a Mumbai hotel when crazies break in looking to machine gun tourists, don't say you weren't warned.
Hmm, well, every time I leave Qatar (pretty much no matter where I am headed), I have to re-train myself to do things like lock my door when I go out, or not to leave valuables in an unlocked car.

No place is totally safe. But the issue is more that perceptions of safety are typically not related to actual safety. Perception is often related to what is known and familiar vs. the unknown, which can create irrational feelings of unease and danger. In reality, I suspect that Yemen -- one of most amazing places I have ever been -- is probably safer than most places in Los Angeles. Mumbai almost certainly is.

I remember during Gulf War I, when I was living in Washington D.C., which had a population of around 600 000 at the time. After the end of the war, the Pentagon released statistics showing that about 600 000 soldiers had participated. Of these, there were something like 300 fatalities. During the same period, around 450 people were murdered in Washington D.C., so you were actually safer on the front lines of Gulf War I than you were living in Washington.
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Old Jul 5, 10, 7:10 am   #7
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Hmm, well, every time I leave Qatar (pretty much no matter where I am headed), I have to re-train myself to do things like lock my door when I go out, or not to leave valuables in an unlocked car.

No place is totally safe. But the issue is more that perceptions of safety are typically not related to actual safety. Perception is often related to what is known and familiar vs. the unknown, which can create irrational feelings of unease and danger. In reality, I suspect that Yemen -- one of most amazing places I have ever been -- is probably safer than most places in Los Angeles. Mumbai almost certainly is.

I remember during Gulf War I, when I was living in Washington D.C., which had a population of around 600 000 at the time. After the end of the war, the Pentagon released statistics showing that about 600 000 soldiers had participated. Of these, there were something like 300 fatalities. During the same period, around 450 people were murdered in Washington D.C., so you were actually safer on the front lines of Gulf War I than you were living in Washington.
The advisories are fueled by input from each Embassy's Security Officer. As you can imagine, when you work in that field, you see danger everywhere, because your job depends on keeping the Ambassador and the embassy safe. I've visited numerous embassies, and the incoming RSO brief is usually quite comical - if taken literally, you would stay in your hotel room and not venture out. Most of us ignore them, of course.

What these advisories don't do is note that just because a certain location might have a high crime rate, that is often limited to a certain section of the city or country. For example, in Washington DC, as long as you stay away from Southeast DC across the Anacostia River, and certain sections of Northeast (near Trinidad projects), you are perfectly safe.
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Old Jul 5, 10, 8:20 am   #8
 
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There is a general threat from terrorism in the United States. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

Do not leave your door open at any time.
Avoid wearing expensive jewellery and carrying valuable items in run down areas.
Do not sleep in your car by the roadside or in rest areas.
Avoid leaving items on display in cars.
Try to stay on main roads and use well-lit car parks.
If hit from behind while driving, indicate to the other driver to follow you to a public place and call 911 for Police help.
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Street crime can spill over into commercial, hotel, and entertainment areas. Riots, though rare, occasionally occur; these are usually confined to the poorer districts of major cities, but the violence can spread to central commercial and hotel areas. Full cooperation is recommended when stopped by police.

Violent crime remains a serious concern in Florida. Criminals have demonstrated that they will use violence with little or no provocation. Many attacks have occurred in the Miami area, and others have taken place on rural roads and at interstate highway rest areas. Some rest areas have dusk-to-dawn security on site (which is indicated on the highway sign). Proceed cautiously when exiting a freeway (including Interstate 95) into large urban centres, especially after dusk. Theft has increased, particularly from trunks of parked cars in the North Miami Beach area, South Beach and at airports. Be alert, as criminals use a variety of techniques to steal personal belongings.

Passport theft is on the rise in the United States. Travellers should ensure that their travel documents are secure at all times.
www.voyage.gc.ca

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Old Jul 5, 10, 8:32 am   #9
 
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No place is totally safe. But the issue is more that perceptions of safety are typically not related to actual safety.
I can see you telling that the people abducted in Yemen. "This could have happened to you in your suburb. People are kidnapped by crazies in American suburbs all the time".
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Old Jul 5, 10, 12:11 pm   #10
 
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The US advisories tend to be one of the most cautious. The only one I know that is frequently more cautious are the Australian ones which read as if travelling anywhere - even to NZ - is a high risk activity. The classic was an advisory not to travel to any part of Turkey - at a time when millions of Europeans were happily lying on beaches in Southern Turkey
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Old Jul 5, 10, 12:17 pm   #11
 
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The advisories are fueled by input from each Embassy's Security Officer. As you can imagine, when you work in that field, you see danger everywhere, because your job depends on keeping the Ambassador and the embassy safe. I've visited numerous embassies, and the incoming RSO brief is usually quite comical - if taken literally, you would stay in your hotel room and not venture out. Most of us ignore them, of course.

What these advisories don't do is note that just because a certain location might have a high crime rate, that is often limited to a certain section of the city or country. For example, in Washington DC, as long as you stay away from Southeast DC across the Anacostia River, and certain sections of Northeast (near Trinidad projects), you are perfectly safe.
...and, the advisories also have a healthy dose of international politics and diplomacy thrown in. There are lots of places with high crime rates, etc, but aren't on the State Department's list. There are numerous reasons, from a foreign policy perspective, why we would want to "overlook" just how dangerous a place really is. On the other hand, we burn little diplomatic capital if we publish an advisory notice about a place which we really don't care about and, most important, doesn't have oil.

I agree with you: borders aside, it's hard to leave SE DC off the list!
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Old Jul 5, 10, 1:06 pm   #12
 
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I pay attention only when I see that Embassy personnel are forbidden to travel to a certain area. Then I do more research. I looked once at the warnings for Italy and they scared me to death. Then I thought about it and decided it really didn't sound that much worse than Memphis.
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Old Jul 5, 10, 1:08 pm   #13
 
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I pay attention only when I see that Embassy personnel are forbidden to travel to a certain area. Then I do more research.
Generally if the advisories says "don't go" then your insurance is void
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Old Jul 5, 10, 1:57 pm   #14
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I can see you telling that the people abducted in Yemen. "This could have happened to you in your suburb. People are kidnapped by crazies in American suburbs all the time".
Well at least in Yemen you just get abducted, given three meals a day and are eventually released unharmed 99% of the time. Unlike Miami, where the local sport seems to be gunning down tourists without provocation in broad daylight, and no objective beyond the petty amounts of cash they are carrying.
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Old Jul 5, 10, 2:02 pm   #15
 
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I pay attention only when I see that Embassy personnel are forbidden to travel to a certain area. Then I do more research. I looked once at the warnings for Italy and they scared me to death. Then I thought about it and decided it really didn't sound that much worse than Memphis.
That's a good place to start. But, recognize that decisions to evacuate or not evacuate Embassy and/or family members are very much politically & diplomatically-driven. Safety of U.S. travelers is a secondary consideration.
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