May 10 2004
Don’t Go There…
Where to find travel warnings on the Internet
Don’t go there! (Or, at least, I wouldn’t go there.) But how do you
know where there is?
Well, there are a few good travel advisory sites online to help you
know in advance that maybe your trip to Tajikistan or Mindanao or
Papua New Guinea isn’t a good idea right now.
Travel Warnings online at the U.S. State Department’s web site is a
good starting point. They are listed individually by country and
there are also links to more basic consular information on particular
The sorts of things you find include a warning issued on July 3rd,
stating that the U.S. Embassy in Nepal “has received credible
information that Maoist activists have targeted casinos in Nepal for
attack within the next few days… The Embassy advises American
citizens in Nepal to exercise caution and avoid visiting casinos for
the next seven days until the Embassy can better judge the extent and
scope of the threat.” The warning doesn’t actually expire until
August 1st. Personally, I suspect there are more fulfilling things to
do in Nepal than play blackjack, anyway. If you have to play
blackjack and you don’t want to get blown up, go to Atlantic City…
Country Advice at the British government’s Foreign & Commonwealth
Office page has a list of countries it advises British citizens not
to travel in. At the moment they advise against travel to
Afghanistan, Burundi, the Central African Republic, Iraq, and
Tajikistan under any circumstance. They also have warnings about
particular regions of other countries:
If you are going to Azerbaijan, stay away from the Nagorno-Karabakh
Travelers in Indonesia should stay out of Aceh and Maluku provinces.
Stay out of the northern and eastern portions of Sri Lanka.
There are 21 such warnings at the moment on the British site. The
site also allows you to get more detailed information on specific
While it doesn’t list warnings on the site’s front door, the
Australian Department of Foreign Affairs has consular information by
country and includes warnings on hte individual country page.
One of the better sites available is the Canadian government’s Travel
Information and Advisory Reports page. Click on their “beware” link
and you receive a list of advisories currently in effect — 42 at the
moment. Among them:
Canadians should not travel to Papua New Guinea until further notice.
Large-scale civil unrest has occurred in Port Moresby. There have
been clashes between students and the government. Rioting and looting
has broken out in several parts of the city. Deaths have been
reported. Unrest is expected to continue. Transportation has been
disrupted and businesses are subject to closures.
That warning was issued on June 29th. The Canadian site is also
available in French.
While all of these sites are helpful in assessing the wisdom of
travel to a particular destination, they deal almost entirely with
political issues and problems of civil unrest. If you want to know
about the dengue fever outbreak in Chiang Mai, Thailand, or recent
problem in Bangladesh with acute neurological syndrome, you’ll have
to go somewhere else to find that information.
Disease Outbreak News from the World Health Organization is probably
the best place for finding out about serious epidemics. Among their
most recent warnings is one about meningococcal disease associated
with travel to Saudi Arabia. (Meningococcal disease is an acute
bacterial disease characterized by sudden onset with fever, intense
headache, nausea and vomiting, stiff neck, and, frequently, a
petechial rash with pink macules. Fatality rates often exceeded 50%.)
Over the last year they have reported on:
Cholera in South Africa and Madagascar
Yellow Fever in Brazil
Plague in Zambia
Ebola virus in Uganda
Measles in Korea
Leptospirosis in France and Canada
Legionnaires’ disease in Australia
Polio in China