Breaking Down the Travel Warnings

Let’s take a look at this week’s “World Watch” column from the Chicago Tribune. Keep on your special infrared State Department paranoia-detecting goggles….

ALGERIA – The U.S. State Department updated its travel warning to note that security risks are significant, especially in rural and remote areas, and overland travel between major cities should be avoided. Security in most urban areas is good, although three terrorist attacks did occur in Algiers’ eastern suburbs in October…

This one is a bit tricky. Yes, there is occasional terrorist activity in the country, but much of this could also be construed has leftover concern from the country’s civil war.

There’s always a chance you could be caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, just as there is in London or Laos, both places where terrorists have carried out recent operations and both places considered relatively safe to travel.


Another high profile armed robbery of a busload of British tourists in Rio de Janeiro occurred just before dawn Nov. 26 when bandits with automatic weapons and grenades robbed 18 new arrivals near Ipanema beach. The robbers posed as police to stop the bus, then took cash, valuables and passports from all aboard. The crime prompted Rio’s police chief to offer police escorts for tour groups, a proposal dismissed by tour operators as impractical and potentially off-putting. Just a week earlier in the same area, police and drug traffickers engaged in a lengthy gun battle while tourists and residents scattered into nearby restaurants and bars.

Welcome to travel in Latin America. Don’t travel with your thousand dollar earrings or watch and stay away from sketch neighborhoods without a knowledgable local.


A political crisis pitting the prime minister against the military commander has pushed the nation to the brink of a military coup. Australia’s foreign minister warned that a takeover was likely to occur within two weeks, and both Australia and New Zealand have warned their citizens about travel here because of possible conflict. New Zealand has also pulled out some of its diplomatic staff and their dependents.

Now here’s one where I might concur. Isolated island, developing situation with a lot of unknowns and little information to go on. Sounds like a good bet to stay away, again, unless you have reputable local contacts.