State Department is advising “worldwide caution” for traveling Americans

By Eileen Ogintz
Tribune Content Agency

As if we didn’t already have enough worries about traveling. The U.S. State Department recently issued a “ worldwide caution” for Americans traveling overseas.

“Due to increased tensions in various locations around the world, the potential for terrorist attacks, demonstrations or violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests, the Department of State advises U.S. citizens overseas to exercise increased caution. “

The “caution,” just underscores what we are seeing on TV and social media as the war between Israel and Hamas escalates, fanning anger and hate around the world.

That said, as much as you have been looking forward to forgoing turkey for a French repast in Paris for Thanksgiving, Christmas in Rome or London, a river cruise to see the holiday markets in Germany or a long-planned tour to Southeast Asia, this may be the year to postpone those bucket list trips and plan instead something closer to home.

Yes, we have all been here before – when the pandemic shut everything down. But you don’t want to spend your holidays worrying you are going to get caught up in some out-of-control protest or targeted by a crazy person just because you are American.

Family road trip
Family road trip

How about a road trip instead? Despite global tensions causing ripples through the oil market, AAA reports, the national average for a gallon of gas maintained its autumnal dip, falling eight cents since last week to $3.56. Pump prices have lost 32 cents since their 2023 peak of $3.88 a month ago. “This means drivers are saving about $5 every time they fuel up,” AAA said.

You might even snare a deal. For example, stay two nights from Nov. 1 to Dec. 26, 2023 at West Virginia’s Resort at Glade Springs and get a third night free, including breakfast. Stay over the dates of Nov. 24 to Dec. 23, on a Thursday through Sunday night, your stay will also include tickets to the brand- new Glade Springs Holiday Light Trail.

Invite some of your favorite people and share a vacation rental. You’ll save on lodging, food and can even share child care.

Surround yourselves with holiday decorations you don’t need to put up or take down. This year, Big Cedar Lodge will transform into a winter wonderland adorned with millions of twinkling holiday lights for its “ Home for the Holidays” festive season in the Ozarks. From Nov. 6 to Dec. 31, the sprawling Midwest Missouri resort offers everything from holiday crafts, light tours, special visits from Santa and baking with Mrs. Santa, after-dark ice skating and more. At Dogwood Canyon Nature Park in Lampe, Missouri, join the bald eagle- watching program.

Horseback Riding in the Desert.
Horseback Riding in the Desert.

How about a dude ranch? Choose one in Arizona like White Stallion outside Tucson where you can ride amid the giant cacti or one where you can enjoy snow sports away from the fray of a large snow resort like Vista Verde in Colorado. The ultra luxe Brush Creek in Wyoming has its own ski mountain and is famous for its home-grown food. We visited last summer.

U.S. News and World Report includes Taos and Santa Fe, New Mexico, among its 15 Best Cheap Winter Vacations. Besides winter sports, there are more than 40 galleries in Santa Fe, museums, nearby hot springs, the Taos Pueblo that has been inhabited by the Taos Indian tribe for more than 1,000 years, and the chance to immerse yourself in new Hispanic holiday traditions.

Multi-story adobe buildings from Taos Pueblo in New Mexico where Indigenous people are still living after over a thousand years.
Multi-story adobe buildings from Taos Pueblo in New Mexico where Indigenous people are still living after over a thousand years.

Jamaica ranks number three for cheap winter vacations for all of its all-inclusive resorts that include sports equipment, all the food you can eat, private beaches and more. Book a package that includes air, US News recommends. Be warned that prices certainly will be higher at Christmas but perhaps you can go a week or two earlier.

Consider a few days in your favorite city. Wherever you go, there will be plenty of holiday cheer and special events.

New York’s Marriott Marquis promises Santa will be in residence all December, complete with his elves and Christmas carolers with ‘ 12 Days of Festive Fun’ right in the heart of Times Square. There’s so much to do! Take in a Broadway play or George Balanchine’s “Nutcracker”; See the New York Botanical Garden Train Show or Holiday Lights at the Bronx Zoo, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall! (My fourth edition of “The Kid’s Guide to NYC” should help!)

Nutcracker characters in action at Palace Hotel in NYC
Nutcracker characters in action at Palace Hotel in NYC

Cruise from a city you can drive to, saving the stress, aggravation and cost of flying. Cruise from Los Angeles or New York; Galveston, Texas, Baltimore, Maryland, or Charleston, South Carolina. Expect plenty of Christmas fun, like on Carnival Cruise line, which boasts that as many as half the country’s residents live within a day’s drive of a port. ( is a good bet to compare cruise lines and see reviews and deals.)

Let’s all hope next year’s holiday season will be a lot calmer.

(For more Taking the Kids, visit and also follow TakingTheKids on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram where Eileen Ogintz welcomes your questions and comments. The fourth edition of The Kid’s Guide to New York City and the third edition of The Kid’s Guide to Washington D.C. are the latest in a series of 14 books for kid travelers published by Eileen.)

©2023 Eileen Ogintz. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.