The United States Department of State just updated their Travel Advisories page and the updates are interesting.
For starters, here’s what the warning levels mean:
Level 1: This is the safest and means: Exercise normal precautions
Level 2: This means: Exercise increased caution
Level 3: This means: Reconsider travel
Level 4: This s the least safe and the words highlighted in red warn: Do not travel
There are now at 150 Level 4 countries out of their list of 209 ,joining the usuals, like North Korea, Afghanistan and South Sudan. What you will most likely find surprising are that some of the most popular destinations Americans go to, including Mexico, Canada, Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados and Bermuda are now listed as Level 4.
There is only one country listed as Level 1: Bhutan.
According to USA Today and the State Department, the reason the State Department is raising the alert level for a significant number of countries this week is to factor the CDC’s COVID-19 data more heavily into its rating system. “As travelers face ongoing risks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of State will begin updating its travel advisories this week to better reflect the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s science-based Travel Health Notices that outline current issues affecting travelers’ health,” the department said in a statement. “Our advisories also take into account logistical factors, including in-country testing availability and current travel restrictions for U.S. citizens.”
In the past, some travel experts would argue these government warnings were nothing but political retribution so you should always cross reference warnings from Australia, Canada and the U.K. (here’s how to cross reference them). But with COVID-19 out of control in most of the world, you have to do your research because just because one part of a country is doing terrible with COVID-19 (for instance Ontario Canada) it doesn’t mean the entire country is dangerous.
As I’ve stated in many interviews, I really think 2021 is the year for domestic travel. With the U.S.A. doing so great vaccinating people, it’s the year to stay relatively close to home. For me, it’s not worth the risk to travel abroad unless I’m with my family and have bulletproof travel insurance. Because if one of us tests positive, we won’t be able to board the plane home as no one, regardless of whether you’re an American or vaccinated or not, can enter the U.S. without a negative COVID-19 test from the last 72 hours.
I wouldn’t want to be stuck paying for the 10+ days of quarantine or worse, be away from my kids if I was traveling alone for business. Would you?
The good news is I spoke to Allianz Travel Insurance this morning (I’m a former brand ambassador) since I was worried that travel insurance to these Level 4 countries wouldn’t be provided. They confirmed the following to me: “Our travel insurance products exclude coverage for government advisories, so you wouldn’t be covered if you wanted to cancel your trip because you saw a government advisory for your destination.” However, you are still insured for your trip even if there is an advisory for your destination.
BTW: In terms of the safest countries in the world, the United States of America is ranked 121 out of 163 countries ranked (according to the U.N. there are 193 in the world), according to the 2020 Global Peace Index.
It’s not surprising because I used to think the U.S. was the safest country in the world growing up in sheltered Fairfield County, Connecticut. But then, when I started traveling internationally when I turned 21, I realized I felt safer outside of the U.S. than I do at home. However, with COVID-19 out of control in much of the world, I’m pretty content to stay relatively close to home for the time being. KEEP READING: The Least Safe Seats on the Plane