U.S. Issues Alert For All Americans Traveling Abroad

The U.S. is “advising…increased caution” for U.S. citizens while overseas. The State Department is a bureaucracy, and how would it look if bad things happened and they didn’t warn people? Now that they’ve done so, bad things aren’t their fault.

At the same time there is increased risk! Hamas had called for global jihad. Idiots around the world will use recent events as an excuse for violence. And there are protests all over. Those protests can turn violent, including due to police crackdowns. Principles of free speech we take for granted in the U.S. don’t apply everywhere. There are only an estimated 30,000 Jews in the Netherlands, but anti-semitic incidents were reportedly on the rise in recent months. They allow climate protests but not pro-Hamas demonstrations. Airports aren’t conflict-free zones!

Three quarters of Dutch Jews were murdered during the holocaust. I understand the historical sensitivity, though as a Jew myself I think the best thing is for people to express themselves even when it is hurtful. It’s easy to protect speech few object to. Rights are only meaningful when they protect speech that we find repugnant. (I find Rashida Tlaib to be horrific but still argued that Hilton shouldn’t have cancelled her event provided it was possible to manage guest and attendee safety, though I have a harder time arguing private actors should stand for actual death threats against Jews in media.)

I’m still planning for multiple upcoming trips to Europe and the Mideast in the coming weeks. I will naturally evaluate each as they approach. At this moment I do not anticipate being anywhere that I won’t be able to return from, and elevated risk doesn’t mean existential risk. I drove past the Pentagon on my daily commute for years, a primary target on 9/11. Bad things happen every day, and I just try not to be stupid while continuing to live my life. I might not fly into El Arish airport right now.

The U.S. government advises against travel to Lebanon but honestly I don’t feel comfortable with the air traffic control situation in Beirut right now anyway and we’ve seen bullets pierce a Middle East Airlines plane a year ago. One of the first trips I cancelled for the pandemic included Beirut and I’m genuinely saddened not to have been able to make it back since.

The State Department advises that you register your travel with them and… follow them on Facebook and Twitter. That’s hardly advice that, for now, is going to scare me off from travel.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Just got back from a trip to Paris. The President outlawed pro Palestinian demonstrations and sent 7000 extra military and police into the city. Lots of sirens and military walking around with assault rifles. Day we were going to the Louvre the street outside was blocked off, pedestrians were told to get off street and Louvre was evacuated and closed for the day. Versailles was evacuated as well. Bomb threats were made to both and train station next to our hotel (Gare de Lyon) was closed for a while due to a possible bottle bomb.

    Honestly never worried too much and had a great trip but the threat level was definitely raised.

  2. Gary…why are you posting this? You agree with the government trying to scare people to sit at home….AGAIN!!! Let the terrorists win…its this stuff that motivates them…FEAR People need to live their lives

  3. I found great comfort in your post Gary as I have been concerned about the recent escalated risk
    Like you I plan to proceed with my travel plans abroad.I wont be on any public transportation other than airports.Will travel door to door with a private driver

  4. Flew in from Indonesia via Singapore today. Been in Indonesia the last 3 weeks. Was a bit concerned when the fighting broke out but all was fine.

    The Europeans who had booked their way home via Turkey or Qatar were a lot more nervous than us.

    Wasn’t the first time nor, likely, will it be the last I’m going to be traveling in a bit more high risk country.

    So far our nearest miss was in Paris when they had a terrorist incident at a place where we had been 5 minutes earlier. And we got the state department warning an hour AFTER the terrorist had been neutralized.

  5. @CHRIS, yeah I remember, 2020, peace in the middle east. Wait, that wasn’t 2020, that might have been 1920, but I doubt it

  6. I wish the government was as concerned when I go back to the Los Angeles area from Southeast Asia and had alerts as well as websites to disseminate the danger.

  7. It takes very little to scare some Americans to stay home. Execs in Ft. Worth, Atlanta and Chicago have got to be more than a little nervous about what is going on in the Middle East.

  8. @Gary – I know you plan to travel, which is why I wonder why you post this stuff … it assists terror organizations achieve what they want… instill fear on the world…

  9. My wife and I are still planning our cruise from Barcelona to Dubai via Suez with stops in Egypt and Jordan (also Oman and the UAE, both of which I’ve found just fine before). A little worried? Slightly but the line already dropped Haifa (as expected) for more Italian stops. And I’m sure they’ll alter the route again if need be. Anyway I don’t live my life with what-ifs and worries, that way lies madness. It’s like a biker I saw yesterday wearing a mask for low risk COVID and not wearing a helmet for higher probability head injuries. That person was not balancing risks and rewards. My wife and I are very experienced travelers with fairly high risk tolerances; we’re not stupid but we don’t live on a diet of fear either. Only Fox profits from that approach.

  10. Just cancelled an eight day trip to Paris for early November. Why? Because when I travel, while I understand you have to be diligent and always aware of your surroundings, I do want there to be some sense of calm. After all, a week in Paris is not cheap.

    So, between the bed bug issue and the potential for unrest…decided it might be best to sit this one out.

  11. Flew into Heathrow yesterday afternoon. No obvious sign of heightened security – – unless malfunctions on the elizabeth line indicate otherwise.

  12. Pro-Hamas idiots and worse need a reality check, but it’s freedom of speech, expression and assembly that exposes the bad and allows the bad to be challenged openly and face their ideas being discredited more permanently and widely.

    The right to speech, expression and assembly is not as strong in most of Europe as it is in the US; and the restrictions on speech/expression/assembly placed by governments in Europe breed their own longer term problems by trying to suppress speech, expression and assembly even well short of that which is “screaming fire in a crowded theater”. But some of this does more than border on screaming “fire” in a crowded theater; it’s actually opportunistic seeking out of violent confrontations and demonizing “the other” so as to generate more violence — and then that perhaps amounts to “fighting words” or even deliberate recruiting tools for criminal organizations.

  13. The government is just doing its CYA business for itself. If the State Department were a foreign government’s equivalent, they probably should warn their own citizens about the risk of violent crimes across America and the possibility for being subject to police brutality, civil forfeiture and the crazy amount of laws that can land them in trouble with the criminal justice system in the country.

    Is there an increased risk of anti-European, anti-American, anti-semitic or Islamophobic attacks now than there was last month? Unfortunately, yes, in too many parts. Is the increased risk such that it will stop me from traveling internationally? Definitely not, as the same stuff can happen even closer to home. And since most people are around home more than away on vacation, the danger of getting hit tends to be clustered closer to home than while off in far away lands.

  14. @Flyingand Stacking – obviously do what you feel comfortable with but I just got back Wednesday from a trip to Paris. Sure there is a risk but frankly that has been the case in larger European cities for a number of years. With 7000 additional police and military reacting quickly to any perceived threat it may be safer than normal. I never worried one minute and life went on as normal.

    On bedbugs – I checked my hotel and questioned the front desk on procedures (obviously could have lied but a Marriott property and have specific procedures if any encountered – none yet per front desk). I checked room and looked fine. No bites or any other issues. Also didn’t see anything on metro or RER trains.

    Frankly think an over reaction but, again, do what you feel is best for you.

  15. @GoldPremier read the article. There are a whole lot of discrepancies with the Israeli analysis about the explosion. Some of the evidence they produced was found to have been manipulated. There is a reason why the UN called for an independent investigation today. Given the israeli militaries history of outright lying in similar circumstances that politician can really sit down. The israeli account is quite flawed so we need someone independent (not the US which will do everything they can to absolve israel) to conduct a proper investigation and make a determination.

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