U.S. State Department travel warnings. Useful or useless?

How useful are those U.S. State Department travel warnings? If you read too many, you might become scared off of travel all together.

As Carol Pucci points out in a recent Seattle Times article, politics and economics might play into U.S. State Department travel warnings and recommendations. This doesn’t mean that, if there is a travel warning for a particular country, you should poo poo it as nonsense, and not proceed with caution when making plans. Perhaps, though, the travel warning isn’t totally warranted. Pucci suggests checking other government’s travel warning venues, such as Canada’s, Australia’s and the United Kingdom’s.

Sometimes, even when a warning might be a good idea, the country does not make the travel warning list. Pucci cited India as an example. Consider this:

Just recently, less than a month ago, there was a bombing at Connaught Place in New Delhi, a part of the city that boasts United Coffee House, my favorite restaurant for samosas and drip coffee.

It is a gem of a place that dates back to the early 1930s. The colonial architecture with an Art Deco twist is superb. Connaught Place is popular with tourists, but is also part of the finance industry and is near government offices.

When I lived in New Delhi, two terrorist attempts were thwarted close by where I frequented. Our response, as well as everyone I knew, was to toodle around like normal.

Pucci makes the observation that despite the 140 people who have been killed in India since May due to troublesome unrest, India isn’t on the warning list.

Click on the link for the countries that are on the list. Israel is one of them–so is Nepal. A friend of mine who recently returned from Israel recently emailed me about the great time he had. Other friends of ours moved to Nepal a year and a half ago and haven’t had any problems that I’ve heard of.

The best advice I have–if you want to visit a country that is on the list, is find out which part of that country is a safety concern and avoid those areas. When we went to Sri Lanka, for example we flew into Colombo, but left for other towns and had an absolutely safe, marvelous time. Perhaps, Colombo would have been perfectly fine, but the sites we wanted to see were elsewhere anyway.

If you can swing it, go to United Coffee house. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to keep an eye out.