Stop or Go?

How to incorporate U.S. travel advisories into your international site selection process

The U.S. Department of State has issued a new warning for American travelers headed to the Caribbean due to violent crime that has impacted the local populations of Jamaica and the Bahamas. The State Department reissued a Level 3 travel advisory for Jamaica last month, asking Americans to “reconsider travel to Jamaica due to crime and medical services.” The state department also issued a level 2 travel advisory for the Bahamas. 

What is the best way for meeting and event planners to use information like this? Here is a primer on how to use state department warnings to assess threats and keep groups safe.

What Does a Warning Mean?

Here is a rundown of how many travel advisory levels there are and what they mean:

Level 1 – Exercise Normal Precautions: This is the lowest advisory level for safety and security risk. There is some risk in any international travel. Conditions in other countries may differ from those in the United States and may change at any time.       

Level 2 – Exercise Increased Caution: Be aware of heightened risks to safety and security. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory. Conditions in any country may change at any time.  

Level 3 – Reconsider Travel: Avoid travel due to serious risks to safety and security. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory. Conditions in any country may change at any time. 

Level 4 – Do Not Travel: This is the highest advisory level due to greater likelihood of life-threatening risks. During an emergency, the U.S. government may have very limited ability to provide assistance. The Department of State advises that U.S. citizens not travel to the country or to leave as soon as it is safe to do so. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory. Conditions in any country may change at any time. 

Get Informed

Safety and Security Information: Read the Travel Advisory and Alerts for the country your group will be visiting at travel.state.gov/destination. Review entry/exit requirements, visas, local laws, customs, medical care, road safety, etc. Write down contact details for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to carry with you in case of emergency while traveling.

Crisis Planning: Read How to Prepare for a Crisis Abroad: Be Ready, and make an evacuation plan that does not rely on the U.S. government. Consider buying emergency evacuation insurance for your group. If a crisis occurs while your group is abroad, advise your attendees to check in with loved ones and update their social media status so family and friends know they are okay.

Health Precautions: Read Your Health Abroad and check out recommendations for vaccinations and other health considerations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO). 

Money Matters: Before going abroad, advise attendees to notify their bank and credit card companies of their travel plans, and check exchange rates. For information about using cash, debit/credit cards, and ATMs overseas, read information about your destination.

Get Required Documents

Passport: Apply several months in advance for a new passport. 

Visas: Attendees may need to get a visa before they travel to a foreign destination. Contact the embassy of the country where your event will be held for more information. 

Medications: Some prescription drugs, including narcotics and some U.S. over-the-counter medications, are illegal in other countries. Check with the embassy of your destination(s) about regulations and documentation before your group travels.

Get Enrolled

Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP): Enroll for free at to receive travel and security updates about your destination, and to help the U.S. government to reach your group in an emergency. Groups or organizations can create an account and upload a spreadsheet with contact details for multiple travelers.

Any thoughts, opinions, or news? Please share them with me at vince@meetingsevents.com.

Photo by David Watkis on Unsplash

Safety and Security Primer

While it is true that there was little organizers of the Kansas City Super Bowl celebration could have done to prevent the horrific shooting, the incident can serve as a reminder to all event planners of the importance of having safety protocols in place at all events.

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