Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began last week, the travel industry has joined in the effort to show solidarity to the afflicted nation. Airlines have ended partnerships with Russia’s largest air carrier, Aeroflot, and travel advisers have stopped making bookings in the region. Even the Russian ballet has canceled its performances to show its support for Ukraine.

For travelers watching the crisis unfold and its impact grow beyond Ukraine’s borders, there may be confusion over upcoming trip plans. Will their flights to Europe be canceled? Should they postpone upcoming trips to the region?

To address travelers’ key concerns, we spoke with experts on travel security and aviation to find out what places to avoid, how to protect or cancel a trip, and how long people should be on alert.

— Should I keep my plans to travel in Europe?

Experts say there’s no need to cancel your upcoming trip to the vast majority of the continent. International SOS, a medical and travel security firm, is not advising its clients to defer travel to European countries other than Ukraine.

The company did recommend putting off nonessential travel to Russia for people who may have an elevated profile, including those who work at media companies, for nongovernmental organizations or for groups linked to foreign governments.

Mike Susong, senior vice president of global intelligence and information at risk management firm Crisis24, said there is no indication that the conflict will extend over the borders, which he defined as western Russia, Ukraine and southern Belarus.


More about Russia’s war on Ukraine

— Can I make plans to travel to Europe in the near future?

Another green light.

Julian Moro, senior vice president of security services at International SOS, said his firm’s assessment is that “Russia is very unlikely to use military force against other European nations” because of mutual defense pacts between members of the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

— Where can I go?

Travelers should feel safe going to most of Europe outside the conflict area — though they should, as always, keep in mind coronavirus entry requirements wherever they’re heading.

Susong said travelers should be aware that a “massive outflux” of Ukrainian refugees are pouring into bordering countries including Poland, Romania, Moldova and Slovakia.

“If you’re wanting to go to Warsaw, there’s probably not much impact,” he said. “But if you’re going to be traveling in and around Poland, you may inadvertently get caught up in refugee flow or NGOs supporting individuals in the country.”


Moro said that while his company anticipates “limited direct impact” on nearby countries — which also include Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Sweden — travelers should be aware of protest-related disruption around Europe.

He pointed to large gatherings in Berlin, Prague and Amsterdam condemning Russia’s actions in Ukraine, and he said more demonstrations are expected Wednesday and Saturday across the continent.

“While all such events have remained largely peaceful, they can cause significant travel disruption amid heightened security,” Moro said.

— Where should I avoid?

Last week, the State Department urged Americans to “avoid the areas of Russia along its border with Ukraine.” Travelers should avoid visiting the immediate area of the conflict while the crisis continues.

“If you were planning on going to Russia this summer, or Belarus or certainly Ukraine, to state the obvious I would cancel your plans,” said Dan Richards, CEO of Global Rescue, a provider of medical, evacuation and travel risk management services. The company has been coordinating logistics for people on the ground in Ukraine, from arranging transportation out of the country to shelter-in-place options.

While concern is very high for Eastern European countries directly involved in the conflict, Richards does not feel travelers need to cancel trip plans to other countries in the region, such as Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and the Baltic States. That being said, Richards warns that there may be logistical issues for travelers heading to Eastern Europe because of ongoing flight restrictions and cancellations.


Michael O’Rourke, chief executive of Advanced Operational Concepts, a global security consultancy for travel risk assessment and management, also agreed that he doesn’t see the need to cancel trip plans to other E.U. or NATO member countries.

In addition to avoiding Russia and Ukraine, O’Rourke advised travelers exercise caution in former Soviet Republic countries such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Moldova.

Kenneth Bombace, chief executive of Global Threat Solutions, which offers travel protection services and is working on evacuating people from Ukraine, said he recommends that travelers keep an eye on updates from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the European equivalent to the FAA. In addition to checking State Department travel advisories, Bombace said, travelers should check EASA’s advisories for their destinations.

— How long should I hold off?

We can’t predict exactly how long the crisis will last. “Once war starts, you never know what’s going to happen,” Richards said.

However, he expects the situation to resolve in a relatively short period of time as pressure against Russia intensifies.

“It’s quite possible that sanctions like restrictions and other kinds of government-imposed mandates are going to be in effect into the summer, but I don’t think they’ll sustain into the fall,” Richards says. “All this is going to be predicated on the diplomacy that’s just started happening.”


O’Rourke recommended that travelers with plans to visit Russia to “shelve those indefinitely,” as political unrest may continue in the country.

Given the highly dynamic situation changing by the hour, Bombace said, issues with commercial flights to Eastern Europe may arise quickly. He said if travelers can cancel or reschedule nonessential trips, “do it.”

— How will airspace bans affect flight prices and other logistics?

As the crisis unfolds, O’Rourke says travelers should consider the potential of getting stranded somewhere thanks to disruptions over Russian airspace, airline cancellations and future complications. For example, as Turkey controls the passage of vessels between the Mediterranean and Black seas, “they could be dragged into this and [travelers] could have issues there,” O’Rourke says.

His advice to travelers is sound even outside of a crisis: Keep an eye on the news, read the latest State Department travel advisories, travel with cash in case of emergencies, and have a physical copy of your passport, as well as the passport itself.

Scott Keyes, founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights, said there are a few reasons airfare could increase for travelers as a result of the crisis.

With Russia being a major global supplier of oil and natural gas, Keyes said we can expect a spike in the price of jet fuel, which had already been on the incline before the invasion of Ukraine. Jet fuel is the second-largest expense for airlines, so if high oil prices continue, he said, we can expect airfare to rise.


Additionally, should Western airlines continue to avoid entering Russian airspace, Keyes said, carriers will have to fly more circuitous routes to Asia and the Middle East. That means using more jet fuel, more pilot hours and more connecting flights, leading to higher prices for travelers.

Lastly, a war could impact the airplane supply chain. Companies including Boeing, Airbus and Embraer source various key components of airplanes — such as titanium to make engines and landing gear — from Russia. If airplane manufacturers become unable to meet production commitments, Keyes said, the ripple effect could lead to higher fares for travelers.

— Are travel companies canceling trips to the region?

Some have already canceled. Guidebook author and TV and radio host Rick Steves said last week that his tour company would no longer operate any trips that visit Russia this year. Departures for the nine-day tour, which included five days in St. Petersburg, would have started in May.

Steves wrote on his blog that he would monitor travel impacts throughout Europe, but he had no plans to call off any other trips.

“It is important to keep geographic realities in mind and remember that a war in Ukraine is as far from our European vacation dreams as a war in Guatemala would be from Texas or Florida,” he wrote.

Several cruise companies have said they are scrapping plans to stop in Russia as well.

— How should travelers stay informed while they’re abroad?

The State Department encouraged U.S. citizens to enter their travel plans in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which will make it possible for them to get security alerts and updates to travel advisories.

In a statement, the department also said Americans traveling overseas should monitor local news, pay attention to emergency instructions from local authorities, and follow the Bureau of Consular Affairs on Twitter and Facebook. U.S. travelers should also avoid demonstrations and large gatherings.