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What you need to know about travel warnings for popular destinations | 7 On Your Side

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NEW YORK (WABC) — The combination of a long weekend with Presidents Day on Monday and many schools being on winter break are leading people to travel.

Spring break is also on the way, making it a busy time to hit the beach or travel somewhere warmer.

One thing to consider before you book, the U.S. is out with travel warnings for several popular destinations.

The State Department uses a color code for their advisory levels.

RELATED | US issues travel advisory for Jamaica, Bahamas due to increased crime: What to know

For perspective: The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos and the Dominican Republic are all at a level 2 and Jamaica is at a level 3.

7 On Your Side contacted the State Department and was told crime information for places like Jamaica remains unchanged from previous years — only health information was recently updated.

So before you dash your dreams of white sand beaches because of headlines on government travel advisories, it’s important to be aware of what’s behind the rankings.

Travel Expert Katy Nastro globetrots for Going.com, and she says take the advisories with a grain of salt — the vast majority of tourists are safe under the Do Not Travel red zones.

“Regardless of where you’re going, you should always be a smart traveler, doing things like looking at Google maps, getting your bearing, so you’re not nose-in-phone drawing attention to yourself,” Nastro said.

Some important tips to follow include:

-Avoid walking or driving at night

-Do not display signs of wealth like jewelry

-Avoid secluded places or situations

-Do not physically resist any robbery attempt

-Be aware of your surroundings and keep a low profile

If you do get cold feet and want to cancel or change travel plans, first call your carrier, contact your hotel or the booking site.

Ask for a refund, request a change fee waiver, request an extension of travel credit/voucher and rebook at an alternate destination.

Many hotels like the Iberostar with three properties in Montego Bay are relaxing refund policies and offering free rebookings at sister properties in Cancun or Punta Cana, while also assuring its resorts have enhanced security measures to ensure safe stays for all guests.

Remember that government advisories don’t qualify you for cancellation refunds.

For that you need insurance and to cancel for any reason is pricey — up to 10% of your total trip cost or more depending on your age and trip length — but It will give you increased coverage.

With any policy, read the fine print before paying.

7 On Your Side’s Nina Pineda joined the Eyewitness News Mornings @ 10 team with Nastro so you can make an informed decision:

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