Making the grade: What the new travel advisory system means for you

Posted: Updated:
(Source: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) (Source: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

By Rosanne Coloccia, Preferred Travel Services

Pop quiz: Under the previous State Department travel advisory system, a “travel warning” meant the same thing as a “travel alert.” 

That’s a big ol’ no. In fact, they’re not even close, but try telling that to travelers left wondering if they should cancel that long-planned vacation when one was issued for their destination. 

[RELATED: 21 places to go in 2018]

Recently, the State Department decided a little clarification was in order. Michelle Bernier-Toth, acting deputy assistant secretary for overseas citizen services, brought up a great point while discussing the differences between the two.

“We shouldn’t need to spend more time explaining the difference than we do explaining what the threat actually is,” Bernier-Toth said. 

Agreed. And it’s been a long time coming. Too long, if you ask travelers. And travel advisors. And tourist boards. Essentially, anyone who relies on tourism, and tourist dollars. 

So how does this system work and why has it been such a homerun in the travel industry? 

Instead of the nuances between warning and alert, you can go to the State Department website (www.state.gov) and see from the get-go where you can safely travel as opposed to the places you might want to keep off your vacation itinerary. Like way off.

Under the new system, every country in the world has a travel advisory ranking from 1 (“exercise increased caution”) to 4 (“do not travel”).

[READ MORE: Cancun and Cabo: Behind the headlines]

Popular destinations for Arizona travelers, such as Mexico, Italy, France and the U.K., have been graded a 2 (“exercise increased caution”, yellow on the map), while destinations such as Russia and Turkey have graded out at a 3 (“reconsider travel”, orange on the map). Those countries ranked 4 (“do not travel”, red on the map) are few, but include North Korea, Iran, Libya, and Syria.

The helpful interactive map color-codes each country according to their ranking. Countries ranked a 1 - Canada is one such country - aren’t color-coded. 

As a travel advisor and writer, I appreciate the more in-depth information provided when you go to a specific country. Rather than expecting you to know why it was under an alert and not a warning, the new system lists the reasons for their current status right at the top of the page.

[RELATED: Top 10 most romantic cities]

There’s lots of other great information on the site, too. The location of embassies and consulates, for example. 

Take a look and see where your favorite destinations rate. This new system is a terrific tool for planning your next great vacation!

For questions on the new system and vacation planning, give us a call at Preferred Travel Services, 602-603-9300, or e-mail me directly at Rosanne@preferredtravelservices.com.

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


  • Social Connect

  • Contact

    AZ Family
  • Travel blogMore travel blog postsMore>>

  • Ship review: Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas

    Ship review: Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas

    Saturday, June 16 2018 10:13 AM EDT2018-06-16 14:13:18 GMT
    (Source: Rosanne Coloccia)(Source: Rosanne Coloccia)
    (Source: Rosanne Coloccia)(Source: Rosanne Coloccia)

    Months of planning and anticipation led up to sailing on May 27 departure of Royal Caribbean’s newest Oasis Class ship, Symphony of the Seas. Overall, I have to say it was a terrific experience. But there are some caveats.

    More >

    Months of planning and anticipation led up to sailing on May 27 departure of Royal Caribbean’s newest Oasis Class ship, Symphony of the Seas. Overall, I have to say it was a terrific experience. But there are some caveats.

    More >
  • VIDEO: Summer gas prices

    VIDEO: Summer gas prices

    CONSUMER ALERT: Are you hitting the road for a summer vacation this year?  AAA says get ready to pay more to fill up your car.

    More >

    CONSUMER ALERT: Are you hitting the road for a summer vacation this year?  AAA says get ready to pay more to fill up your car.

    More >
  • Shanghai to Los Angeles in 5 hours? Why supersonic air travel could boom in Asia

    Shanghai to Los Angeles in 5 hours? Why supersonic air travel could boom in Asia

    Monday, May 28 2018 7:28 PM EDT2018-05-28 23:28:22 GMT
    The next wave of supersonic flight could make traveling between the United States and Asia a breeze. (Boom/CNN)The next wave of supersonic flight could make traveling between the United States and Asia a breeze. (Boom/CNN)
    The next wave of supersonic flight could make traveling between the United States and Asia a breeze. (Boom/CNN)The next wave of supersonic flight could make traveling between the United States and Asia a breeze. (Boom/CNN)

    The next wave of supersonic flight could make traveling between the United States and Asia a breeze. 

    More >

    The next wave of supersonic flight could make traveling between the United States and Asia a breeze. 

    More >