I remember the first time I traveled outside of the United States. My mother, who’d traveled internationally long before I did, kept going on about travel advisories. She said it was important that I check what safety advisories the government had in place for certain countries. For Americans, checking travel advisories is the norm before going abroad.
But have you ever thought about what other places think about travel safety in the US?
Surprisingly, despite the US being one of the most advanced places in the world, many nations still warn their citizens to be careful when visiting the states. The severity of safety precautions seems to depend greatly on the relationship between the US and that respective country. However, every nation seems to agree that foreign travelers need to watch out for gun violence while in the US.
In addition to gun violence, there are many other warnings countries issue to their citizens before visiting the US. And most of their concerns aren’t a surprise to most Americans.
You’re Likely To See More Guns
The most common travel advisory foreign countries warn citizens about before visiting the US is the excessive access to guns. Many countries have much stricter regulations regarding firearms.
After a mass shooting in 1996, Australia passed new laws nearly banning all fully automatic or semiautomatic firearms. Other countries like New Zealand, Canada, and the European Union all have similar laws. So when their citizens visit the US, they warn them that they might see more guns than usual.
The Australian government also reminds its citizens that some states allow Americans to openly carry guns in public. A stark difference from many other nations, foreign travelers are told to be on high alert for firearms when traveling throughout the United States.
Be Careful Crossing The US-Mexico Border
The Canadian governments biggest concern for citizens traveling to the US is being self-aware around the US-Mexico border. The country suggest travelers“take normal security precautions” unless they plan on traveling across the border.
When traveling across the border by car, Canadians are told the border is prone to “criminal incidents associated with drug trafficking,” according to CNN. They also warn tourists to be careful walking around the border at night.
Be Leery Of Urban Areas
A very common theme with foreign US travel advisories is that travelers should be leery of urban areas. French Ministry of Foreign Affairs states that “the United States of America is among the safest countries.” However, it also says travelers are more prone to violence and crime when in urban neighborhoods.
For example, France’s advisory says to avoid traveling alone by foot in Boston neighborhoods like Dorchester, Mattapan, and Roxbury. It also states that French travelers should “be vigilant in isolated areas of the city center (downtown) after the close of business and favor taxi travel at night,” when visiting Atlanta.
Unfortunately, “urban neighborhoods” are typically identified as areas with large percentages of African-American and minority residents. This could potentially paint unfair generalizations about certain racial groups in the US in the minds of foreign visitors.
Avoid Traveling Alone At Night
It’s no surprise that foreign governments warn their citizens about traveling alone at night in the US. This is a rule of thumb that should be followed whenever someone is visiting a new, unknown destination. While it’s a known fact that violence in the US is rarely directed at tourists, it’s better to travel with companions if you’re exploring US cities at nighttime.
Watch Your Mouth Because All Americans Don't Take Jokes Lightly
While some Americans may find it comical, one columnist in the UK told foreign travelers to be sure to talk nice to US citizens. Flippant jokes and humor that’s playful in other countries are offensive to Americans. The columnist especially told travelers to watch out for jokes centered around race, gun violence, and politics to avoid conflict.
Pay Attention To The Racial Climate
The United States has been in international media numerous times due to racial conflicts and police brutality. Nations like Germany, New Zealand, and Japan all advise travelers to research the destination they are visiting in the US before heading overseas. If racial tension is brewing, it may not be the best time to visit.
Avoid Large Crowds
Due to the unpredictability of racial clashes and police brutality in America, Germany also warns its citizens to stay away from large crowds when visiting the US. The travel advisory states to “avoid gatherings of people in the vicinity of which violence could possibly occur.” Overall, Germany has a positive relationship with the United States. But it still warns its citizens to be aware of their surroundings when visiting.
Learn Active Shooter Drills Before You Go
Excessive access to firearms has resulted in an alarming number of mass shooting in the US. So far there have been 611 mass shooting in 2022 and the number seems to be rising each day. Foreign countries are taking extra precautions to make sure their citizens are equipped in case a mass shooting happens during their visit to the states.
Japan’s travel advisory details an active shooter drill for their citizens that are visiting the US. In case of an active shooter, the plan says to:
Find security exits in a new place and have an evacuation plan
Escape regardless of whether others agree or not
Hide in a room and barricade the door using heavy furniture
Keep quiet and mute cell phones
The advisory also states to “throw things close to the criminal, use them as weapons; scream; act with all your might,” if they are unable to escape.
Encountering a violent shooter is the biggest concern for foreign travelers coming to the US. With all of the odds at play when traveling internationally, their biggest worry when visiting America is that they’ll be shot.