Embarking on an international journey is an exciting experience, and GEEO is committed to providing a safe, healthy, and productive learning experience for all of our travelers.

We and our partner tour operator take steps to maximize the safety of our participants, and the following information and resources are available to help travelers make informed decisions. We will explain the significance of Travel Advisory Levels from the U.S. Department of State, share advice about assessing the safety of a potential travel destination, and offer some guidelines to promote safety and well-being when visiting unfamiliar places.

How Does GEEO Determine Which Locations Are Safe?

GEEO and our tour partner, G Adventures, use a variety of sources to determine which destinations are safe for travel, including G Adventures’s extensive network of overseas offices, tour leaders, local operators, and colleagues, as well as local governments. Each year, G Adventures successfully sends over 200,000 travelers abroad on their tours, and safety is their top priority. GEEO and G Adventures would never run a trip that would compromise the well-being of our travelers.

What are Travel Advisory Levels?

The U.S. Department of State issues a Travel Advisory Level for every foreign country, and these advisories are intended to serve as a guideline for travelers who are searching for official information about safety and security conditions in potential travel destinations. The advisory levels range from 1 to 4 and provide information about the risks and concerns in the destination country, including specific regions or cities affected, and recommendations for travelers to mitigate those risks.

  • Level 1 – Exercise Normal Precautions: This level indicates that there are no significant security concerns and the destination is generally safe for travel. Travelers should still exercise normal precautions, such as being aware of their surroundings, following local laws and customs, and staying informed about any potential risks.
  • Level 2 – Exercise Increased Caution: This level suggests that travelers should exercise increased caution due to certain risks or concerns. Factors contributing to this level may include isolated incidents of crime, civil unrest, or health risks that may affect travelers’ safety.
  • Level 3 – Reconsider Travel: This level advises travelers to reconsider their plans to visit the destination due to significant safety and security concerns. Factors prompting this level may include high crime rates, unstable governments, or heightened risks of terrorism.
  • Level 4 – Do Not Travel: This is the highest advisory level, urging travelers to avoid all travel to the destination due to very high risks. This level may be issued in response to ongoing conflicts, natural disasters, or other situations posing a grave threat to travelers’ safety.

Having a Travel Advisory level higher than Level 1 does not mean that you should completely rule out visiting a destination. Many of the most popular tourist destinations are often assigned Level 2, including most of Western Europe. This map from the U.S. Department of State helps visualize just how many countries are assigned Level 2 (or higher). While the U.S. is not assigned a Travel Advisory level, it would fall under Level 2 per the State Department’s own criteria.

State Department Travel Advisory Map as of March 27, 2024

To get a comprehensive understanding of a destination, travelers should consider other sources of information in addition to the State Department’s Travel Advisories, such as the foreign travel advice from the UK government, which often provides more detailed maps and information than the State Department’s Advisories. Travelers should also consider their own risk tolerance when interpreting Travel Advisory levels. While some travelers may be comfortable visiting destinations with higher advisory levels, others may prefer to avoid countries with certain safety concerns.

When considering the State Department’s Travel Advisory Levels, it is important to review the Advisory closely for details about why a particular level has been assigned. Advisory levels are not uniform, and context matters. There are a number of factors that can contribute to a risk level, including crime rates, political stability, terrorism threats, health risks, natural disasters, and infrastructure development. For example, Antarctica is often assigned a Level 2 travel advisory due to unpredictable weather conditions, whereas other countries like Costa Rica may be assigned Level 2 due to isolated incidents of crime. Also, sometimes risks are restricted to certain specific areas within a destination, and just because a destination has a higher advisory level does not mean that every part of the country is unsafe or that travelers cannot have enjoyable and fulfilling experiences there. Often, advisory levels are assigned to entire countries, even though certain regions within them may be perfectly safe for tourists. For example, Turkey is typically assigned a Level 2, but there are specific areas of Turkey that are assigned a Level 4 due to their proximity to the Syrian border. GEEO’s Turkey programs do not come within 250 miles of the Level 4 zones.

Travel Advisories are not static and can change over time based on evolving conditions in a destination. What may have been a higher advisory level at one point could improve in the future. Egypt and Colombia are two examples of destinations that have long been assigned a Travel Advisory level of 3, but G Adventures operates tours almost daily in both countries. The Egyptian government also provides an armed guard for each tour group, as tourism is essential to the country’s economy and the government wants to deter any potential threats to the travel industry.

Tips for Safe Travel

Regardless of Travel Advisory levels or other risk factors, it is important to be a conscientious traveler. There are many ways to mitigate risks while traveling. By staying informed about local conditions, following basic safety precautions, and being aware of your surroundings, you can greatly reduce the likelihood of encountering any issues. Additionally, booking reputable accommodations and tours (like GEEO’s programs), as well as avoiding high-risk areas, can further enhance your safety. Below are GEEO’s personal safety recommendations that you should always follow when traveling internationally:

  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive travel alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency: STEP is a free service available to U.S. citizens when traveling abroad. GEEO travelers are encourage to enroll in STEP after they register for one of our programs.
  • Avoid demonstrations and crowds: Protests and public demonstrations can result in clashes between demonstrators and authorities, and large crowds could be targets for terrorism. If you come across a large crowd, it’s best to walk the other way.
  • Stay alert in locations frequented by tourists: Tourists are a special target for pickpockets and scam artists, so it is important to keep a low profile—don’t be the stereotypical loud American tourist—and to always be aware of your surroundings. Be especially cautious in crowded tourist sites and on public transportation. Train stations, buses, metros, airports, markets, and popular tourist sites are all common pickpocket locations.
  • Be cautious going out alone at night: While nighttime safety varies from one one destination to another, many cities have areas that are not safe to walk around after dark, especially if you are alone. Should you want to leave your hotel after dark, consult with your tour leader or the hotel staff for advice first.
  • Be considerate of cultural and political differences: Try not to engage in conversations about contentious political issues with locals, and avoid retaliating against hostile remarks about Americans.
  • Review the CDC’s advice about traveler health: In addition to routine vaccinations recommended for all travelers, the CDC identifies possible health concerns and recommended vaccinations for every international travel destination. GEEO cannot provide medical advice, so it is very important to consult your doctor or a travel clinic about which vaccinations are recommended for your destination. If appropriate, we recommend scheduling an appointment at a Passport Health clinic; you can receive a $20 discount on their regular $95 office visit fee by presenting this letter.