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TRAVELERS: Use caution, not hysteria

The Paris terror attacks of last week have prompted a reminder from the US government. Take it seriously, but don’t swallow the hype along with it.

By now, you’ve probably heard what the media have widely reported:

The US State Department has issued a “worldwide travel alert” after the horrific events of last week in Paris, which led to the murders of 15 people in two separate attacks by self-styled Muslim extremists.

Unless it was a “global travel warning,” as other mainstream media reported.

Actually, it was neither. It was something the State Department calls a “worldwide caution.

In the past, IBIT has taken issue with State Department travel warnings that have been either a) exaggerated b) outdated or c) both of the above. In this instance, urging Americans to be careful as they travel the world seems wholly fitting.

However, let’s be sure we understand what we’re talking about here, because terminology matters.

Too much of the mainstream media are treating a travel alert, a travel warning and a worldwide caution as if they were all synonymous, one and the same.

They are not.

A travel warning definitely is the strongest of the three. It’s as close as the federal government will get to telling you DON’T GO THERE.

A travel alert is one level down from a warning. It asks to consider if this trip is really necessary, so to speak, and urges you to be smart and cautious if you do decide to go.

One level down from that is the caution, which basically Washington’s way of saying, “Hey, be careful out there.”

So with the issuance of this Worldwide Caution, the State Department is not telling Americans to unpack their bags, lock up their passports and stay home.

It is telling us all to use caution and be smart when we travel, to be aware of our surroundings, our company and the local atmosphere wherever we go, and to avoid putting ourselves in sensitive or risky situations.

Don’t take my word for it. Use the link above and read it for yourself.

It’s the sound thing to do when and wherever we travel, and the responsible thing for our government to remind us to do it.

If fear is a terrorist weapon, so too is media hype.

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