We may finally have moved on from three years of restrictions and travel disruption, and for the average American traveler, it may feel as if the world is their oyster.
There is nowhere you can’t go; most countries welcome U.S. citizens with open arms, and now that border curbs are fully lifted, and even once-strict visa rules are being loosened, going on an international trip has never been this easy… right?
Well, not quite.
We have indeed overcome a major obstacle, but countless others have arisen, with our attention now turned to the realm of geopolitics, as new conflicts and even full-fledged wars break out every other month, including in some of the world’s top tourist destinations.
It’s a tricky travel landscape to navigate, particularly if you’re a U.S. passport holder, as it is a politically-charged document, and it may be hard to keep up when you don’t actively follow the news and you’re still unsure which destinations are absolutely off-limits to Americans.
In this article, we bring you 5 countries you shouldn’t travel to right now and why they’re best avoided while the dust has not settled:
Unless you’ve been living under a rock in the past two weeks, you have heard of the reignited Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
While we will not go into extensive detail, as this is a conflict that has been raging on, on and off, for at least seven decades now, all you should know is that, on October 7, a militant group based in Gaza, a Palestinian enclave, crossed into Israel.
A terrorist group, Hamas breached the country’s border security and wreaked havoc upon numerous settlements until they were finally pushed back into Gaza by Israel’s army.
Not only Israelis but also American citizens have been confirmed among the victims and hostages, and though Israel has reasserted control over its territory, a bloody war has ensued that is set to last.
Israel and Hamas, based in Gaza, have been exchanging both firepower and rockets, and the iconic Middle Eastern country, home to the ancient city of Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv, the region’s most liberal metropolis, is no longer as safe to visit.
The conflict is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, and with flights being grounded, commercial routes into and out of the country shutting down, and further escalation expected, U.S. authorities are now strongly urging Americans to avoid all unnecessary travel to Israel.
The other state concerned in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Palestine, formally comprises two territories: the Gaza Strip, seized by the terrorist Hamas since 2007 and kept under a heavy blockade, and the West Bank.
The West Bank is officially administered by the more moderate Palestinian Authority, though Israel currently occupies and maintains a military presence across the territory, as ruled by the United Nations.
Unlike Gaza, however, the West Bank has always been a popular destination for Americans, as it comprises Jerusalem East, the oriental part of the city claimed by Palestine as its capital, Jericho, the oldest city on the planet, and Bethlehem, the alleged site of the Nativity of Jesus Christ.
Millions of Christian Americans underwent pilgrimage to Jerusalem East and Bethlehem every year or participated in organized tours of the occupied territories to experience the Palestinian countryside and get a glimpse of life beyond the border fences.
Now, as tension grows following Hamas’ attack, Americans are again being requested to reconsider travel not only to Bethlehem but all Palestinian territories.
Protests against Israeli rule have been known to erupt and turn violent, and Israel’s response, especially following the terrorist attack, is expected to be firm, and you don’t want to get caught in the crossfire.
Israel and Palestine are the main opponents in the ongoing Middle Eastern conflict, but a little-known fact among Americans is that neighboring countries are also being affected, or in the case of Lebanon, also being drawn into the conflict.
A culturally-wealthy nation with origins lost to time, that lays claim to some of the best-preserved Greco-Roman cities of Antiquity, such as Baalbek, and beautiful Eastern Mediterranean beaches, Lebanon was becoming an increasingly trendy place to visit prior to the recent clashes.
It has its own extremist group, Hezbollah, which took the opportunity to launch a fresh assault on Northern Israel while Hamas ran amok near the Southern border.
Hezbollah leaders have pledged to destroy the Israeli State. It is one of the best organized, most dangerous, and most powerful paramilitary groups anywhere in the Middle East, with direct backing from Iran.
Seeing that Hezbollah wields political strength inside Lebanon, and their animosity towards Westerners and control over Southern Lebanon is a destabilizing factor, Americans should now refrain from traveling to Lebanon for tourism purposes.
Moving away from the Middle East, the fourth country Americans should not visit due to safety concerns is Ukraine, one of the largest states in Europe, and currently a battleground.
Ukraine was invaded by Russia in early 2022.
In recent years, Ukraine has been inching ever closer to the Western World, strengthening its democracy, confirming its aspirations to become a member of the European Union and NATO, and seeking to dissociate itself from its Soviet past.
Russia is not taking that decision lightly. Unfortunately for Ukraine, many of its municipalities are now operating under martial law, and tourism has essentially come to a standstill.
During the pandemic, Ukraine was one of the most popular global destinations, as it stood among a handful in Europe to not have barred entry to foreign nationals based on either infection trends in their home countries, or vaccination.
Prior to the invasion, it was on track to become one of Europe’s fastest-growing and more rapidly-developing destinations. Now, the Ukrainian Government’s priority is winning this war.
For obvious reasons, due to the Russo-Ukrainian conflict, Russia should no longer be on your travel radar, either.
The country itself has not seen effects as devastating as its neighbor, with a majority of Ukrainian fighter jets and drones targeting border towns near the frontline, and larger cities like Moscow and Saint Petersburg being largely unaffected.
Life goes on as it did before inside Russia, but U.S. citizens should still not visit.
Not only do they need tourist visas to enter, which are now incredibly hard to obtain given the circumstances, but they risk arbitrary imprisonment and harassment simply for being Americans.
Additionally, since the unprecedented sanctions imposed on Russia, credit cards issued outside the country do not work inside the national territory, nor foreign online banking or international transfers.
Needless to say, the tourist experience in Russia is not as smooth as it once was.
Those who are courageous enough to visit are required to bring enough money in cash to cover their entire expenses, as their credit cards will be as good as a random piece of plastic, and make contingency plans should the situation suddenly deteriorate and travel routes out of the country are axed.
↓ Join Our Community ↓
The Travel Off Path Community FB group has all the latest reopening news, conversations, and Q&A’s happening daily!
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR LATEST POSTS
Enter your email address to subscribe to Travel Off Path’s latest breaking travel news, straight to your inbox.
This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com