The political and social unrest in Egypt has a lot of US tourists scrambling to get out of the country on one of the several US chartered planes. If you ever travel outside of the country, whether it’s to Germany, where you wouldn’t expect demonstrations of this magnitude, or areas with greater levels of unrest, it’s important to review the Department of State’s travel advisory for that country. It’s a service provided by the Bureau of Consular Affairs. Along with country specific information that includes local laws and regulations you should know about, it includes the location of the U.S. embassy and/or consular offices in the event you experience any trouble.
The State Department also provides travel alerts and travel warnings. Travel Alerts are short term notices designed to educate you about any timely events that may be happening in an area, such as a recent election that might spark protests or a recent natural disaster. Travel Alerts are designed to educate you but not necessarily deter you from visiting an area.
Travel Warnings, however, are notices intended to dissuade you from visiting a particular region. Egypt, for example, was the subject of a February 1st, 2011 travel warning with this opening paragraph:
On February 1, the Department of State ordered the departure of all non-emergency U.S. government personnel and family members from Egypt. This replaces the Travel Warning for Egypt dated January 28, 2011. The U.S. Department of State continues to recommend that U.S. citizens avoid travel to Egypt at this time. U.S. citizens should consider leaving Egypt as soon as they can safely do so, due to ongoing political and social unrest. Large-scale demonstrations with the potential for violence continue in several areas of Cairo, Alexandria, and other parts of the country, and rail and road travel has been disrupted between cities, and between city centers and airports. Disruptions in communications, including internet service, also continue. The Government of Egypt may also disrupt mobile phone service during future demonstrations. The Government of Egypt modified the curfew times and locations; now 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. throughout Egypt until further notice. U.S. citizens should obey curfew orders and remain indoors during curfew hours.
The warning goes on for many more paragraphs that include information for those seeking to escape the unrest.
Before any major trip to another country, be sure to review the advisories and look out for any alerts or warnings.