June 8, 2023

With increased awareness surrounding travel safety, if you are planning a trip soon, it’s essential to take the necessary precautions. And being informed is easier than ever. The U.S. State Department has a travel advisory system ranking each country between 1-4. Number 1 advises travelers to take “normal precautions,” number 2 suggests “increased caution,” number 3 “reconsider travel,” and number 4 “recommends against travel.” Avoid countries with a level 4 (red) warning due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, and kidnapping. While conditions and levels can change rapidly, it’s essential to continually check Travel.State.Gov for updates and sign up for STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program). By signing up for STEP and providing details of your trip, you will receive updated emails with new travel advisories and alerts. The following are the top 10 countries on the State Department’s do not travel list.


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According to the US Department of State, the Iraq poses a huge threat for travelers due to terrorism, kidnapping and armed conflict. Attacks by explosive devices occur in many areas in the country and the U.S government’s ability to provide emergency services to US citizens in Iraq is extremely limited.


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Since December 2018 demonstrations including Anti-Western rallies often occur without any notice, and foreigners can be targeted. Violent crimes, terrorists’ groups, civil unrest, kidnapping and armed conflict are among the biggest contributors to the safety advisory.


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According to the State Department website, “no part of Yemen is immune to violence.” Terrorists may attack with little warning and often target public sites, markets, shopping malls, and transportation. Due to the conflict, many of the medical facilities, power, and water utilities have been destroyed. In addition to the violence, due to the world’s largest cholera outbreak, the disease is prevalent throughout the country


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Crime, civil unrest, poor health infrastructure, kidnapping, and arbitrary arrest and detention of U.S. citizens not only make Venezuela extremely dangerous but shortages of food electricity, medicine and water make the region undesirable. Violent crimes-homicide, armed robbery, kidnapping, and carjacking are common. And civil unrest often results in robust security measures from police, such as tear gas, water cannons, and pepper spray.


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The risk of kidnappings and abductions of U.S. citizens and Westerners has been prevalent in Syria since 2012.  The level 4 travel advisory is in place due to terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, and armed conflict.

South Sudan

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Armed conflict, civil unrest, and readily available weapons make South Sudan extremely dangerous. Even foreign nationals and journalists have been victims of violent crimes and armed robberies and even killed.


Located in the horn of Africa, the country falls threat to active pirates in the international waters near its coast, in addition to crime, terrorism, and kidnapping. Terrorists continue to target hotels, restaurants, shopping areas and other locations where large crowds of westerners visit.


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The West African country remains extremely dangerous due to violent crimes especially during local holidays. Armed groups and terrorists continue to attack high traffic areas such as nightclubs, places of worship, hotels restaurants and areas of western diplomatic missions.


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Crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, and armed conflict are the main reasons that travel to the North African nation is discouraged, and extremist groups continue to make threats against U.S. government officials and citizens. Westerners and U.S. citizens continue to be the target of kidnappings for ransoms, while terrorist groups continue to plot against the country.


U.S. citizens and those with dual Iranian/American nationality, including students, journalists and business travels, have an extremely high risk of kidnaping and unjust arrests and consular access to those imprisoned is often denied.

It’s important to stay abreast of changing conditions regardless of where you travel. But, for peace of mind consider one of the many amazing destinations with high safety ratings. And wherever you go, make sure you follow these tips to stay safe while traveling abroad.

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