I work for a U.S. based company, and recently my project has been sending people on business trips to another country (let's call it XYZ). Last week a few of my coworkers went there, this week the head of the overall project and another manager went there, and next week some more coworkers are going there.

Yesterday in a meeting, there was discussion about another trip to XYZ next month, and the project manager said "We'll be sending Jim, Joe, John, and maybe [my name] if you want". When she said "you" she was speaking to me, but since it wasn't a question and she continued without pausing, I didn't respond. It sounded like it would be optional for me to go next month. She said the purpose was to just introduce ourselves to the company that we are working with over there, because "face time is important". She said after that we would have weekly video conferences with the company.

There was also discussion of additional trips to XYZ in July. There is a much higher chance that they will ask me to go on at least one of those trips, since those trips involve components that I have worked on. The work to be done on those trips would probably be more easily performed on-site.

I looked up XYZ on the U.S. State Department web site, and they have a travel advisory for XYZ saying:

XYZ - Level 4: Do Not Travel

Do not travel to XYZ due to COVID-19. Exercise increased caution in XYZ due to crime and kidnapping. Some areas have increased risk.

The State Department bolded those words, not me. And note that Level 4 is their highest warning level. In addition, I saw an article saying that up until a few weeks ago, XYZ had been rated at Level 3, and then it was raised to Level 4. So that means the situation there is getting worse.

In addition, the CDC web site says the following about XYZ:

Travelers should avoid all travel to XYZ.

Because of the current situation in XYZ even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants and should avoid all travel to XYZ.

Sufficed to say, I do not want to travel to XYZ (which would involve getting on a plane) as the pandemic is far from over. But I fear it would be a very bad look for me if I tried to decline, considering many of my coworkers and some of the managers seem to have no problem going. Is there any way for me to decline a business trip to XYZ?

  • 7
    Have you already brought up your concerns with your manager?
    – Egor
    May 12, 2021 at 14:48
  • 10
    Why not just decline when asked? Your reasons are perfectly valid, but you don't even need a reason.
    – Kilisi
    May 12, 2021 at 14:51
  • 2
    You have valid concerns. Speak to your manager about them. Additionally, ask what safety and security measures the company is taking and ask them what type of insurance they carry for employees travelling to unsafe regions.
    – joeqwerty
    May 12, 2021 at 15:42
  • 4
    Depends what it is, but travelling overseas is one unless it's in your contract. If it's in the contract you'd need a reason I suppose. But you have a perfectly good one.
    – Kilisi
    May 12, 2021 at 16:06
  • 3
    @user20925 I'm pretty sure the reason is people don't think OP look at existing questions on the same topic - travel concern is something that existed forever and there are plenty of similar post here too... May 12, 2021 at 17:51

2 Answers 2


Language to decline:

send a short email only to the boss in question,

I have emphasized here the key elements.

Dear Steve, regarding the trip to XYZ, I appreciate a number of us have gone. However, it looks like the State Dept. have just raised the kidnapping advisory there to level four and XYZ is now "Do Not Travel". On top of that the CDC has just declared that even for vaccinated it's a no-go due to the new mutations there; it would be very challenging for me to go with my family situation. In view of the new "Do Not Travel" kidnapping threat and the covid situation there I would tend to decline a trip for the remains of the year. What do you think about this?

Secret language tips...

  1. Note that it uses pseudo news. If you just say "Don't wanna go" you're in conflict with Steve who wants you to go. But. Because you include "breaking news" it gives Steve an out mentally. News is a logical out in a negotiation like this.

  2. Finish with "What do you think about this?" Always ask questions in negotiations.

Hope it helps.

  • 4
    @user20925 If they put you on the spot in a meeting, push right back with the CDC and State Department issues. Ask about the professional security services. "EDS sent in a team to rescue employees in prison. What do we have?" At a last resort, simply state that "I am not available for that." - I used that when I was willing to quit before doing what they asked. They backed down.
    – David R
    May 12, 2021 at 21:11
  • 1
    @user20925 - note the comment from ColleenV above. Have that info ready on your laptop, show it, and then politely but firmly say "I wouldn't be able to travel to XYZ". Really it has to come down to that - you have to be able to say No. Nothing bad will happen to you career wise - enjoy!
    – Fattie
    May 12, 2021 at 23:12
  • 2
    I am not sure about the "Nothing bad will happen to you career wise" part. They may think I am not a team player.
    – user20925
    May 13, 2021 at 1:23
  • 1
    Honestly in 3 years ....... you won't even remember all this. No harm will come.
    – Fattie
    May 13, 2021 at 2:12
  • 1
    I appreciate the explanation regarding the wording of the response.
    – paulj
    May 13, 2021 at 12:12

Whenever the executive above me discusses issues like this, their primary concerns are 1) safety of the staff and 2) legal liability of a company that sends their employees into known unsafe situations. This even came up a few times at the start of Covid, and also the last year, when places were opening up travel and venues again.

In your case, I would email your manager asking for clarificiation. What is their risk assesment and policy about sending staff to a country against Government Level 4 travel advisories? How would the company respond if you were seriously hurt or kidnapped? Would your health and travel insurance (presumably provided by your employer) be valid in a Level 4 country? What support would your spouse have should the worst happen? Does your company's Workplace Health and Safety group have guidelines for this type of situation?

If you can get them to think about the legal and financial liability, their tune may change pretty fast.

You may want to contact your local government's Workplace Health and Safety for guidance on this as well. Do not mention your company's name if you do not want to escalate through them (yet).

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