U.S. State Dept issues Ireland travel warning. Seriously.

I don’t know anyone who would check with the U.S. State Department before planning a trip to Ireland. I mean, it’s Ireland – it’s in Western Europe, so it must be perfectly safe, right? Well, that’s where the State Department thinks you’re wrong. They’ve just issued an “unprecedented alert to American tourists coming to Ireland,” saying that increasing levels of crimes such as murder and burglary warrant precaution.

The statistics quoted in the new alert include a 20% rise in homicides in Ireland, as well as a “substantial” rise in organized crime activity which have “resulted in fatalities among innocent bystanders.” Another part of the report says that “vehicle burglaries are not uncommon, with criminals targeting American tourists using rental cars at popular tourist destinations,” and that burglars tend to focus on the “more affluent areas” of Ireland’s cities. The general warning seems to want to counter “the misconception that there is little crime in Ireland.”

Now, I don’t pretend to be naive about crime, and I’m actually way more vigilant about keeping track of exactly where my purse is and who’s walking behind me than I probably need to be when I travel. It’s possible that I border on paranoia, in fact, and this report even made me raise an eyebrow and think, “My, but isn’t that a bit excessive?”

The reality is that crime exists just about everywhere, and anyone who travels – to Ireland or anywhere else – assuming they won’t get ripped off, pickpocketed, or worse is probably going to end up ripped off, pickpocketed, or worse. American tourists tend to be easily identified, so it’s no surprise that they’re easy targets. But that doesn’t mean that traveling in Ireland is any less safe now than it was last year, or that a trip to Ireland is going to put you in any more danger than a trip to France, Spain, Italy, or Germany. Or plenty of other countries besides, for that matter.

Certainly, you should always be a smart traveler and do everything in your power to make yourself look unappealing to a potential thief, no matter where you go. But should you change your Ireland travel plans because of this report? I don’t think so. Book yourself some cheap tickets to Ireland and have a great trip.