The mango doesn’t fall far from the tree. By my 19 year old with whom I recently travelled to Myanmar.
There are few places in the world today that are untainted by travel advisories. From the U.S.A to Syria, travel advisories sprout on government-run sites like dandelions on a summer lawn. What’s a traveller to do?
- Take each travel advisory seriously and hide at home. But since a significant number of deaths occur at home, this may not be a good idea.
- Avoid entirely the countries on a travel advisory list. Generally a good idea, except you get stuck to visiting 1/899th of the world – again.
- Go, with caution. The trick is to research carefully and be ready to change course instantaneously. Read on for how to minimize your risk and maximize your travel.
First off, never venture into a country that has a nation-wide travel alert. Current examples are Syria and Iraq.
Other than that, most government-issued travel advisories tend to play safe, and are in danger of becoming cry-wolf. All the same, use the advisory as a starting point. In a particular country, avoid areas that sport travel alerts. A recent example is Kenya, where, due to terrorist activity, travel to the north-eastern areas is red-alert. The beautiful national parks, however, are considered safe. It may be a great time to visit when occupancy is down, security is ramped up, and chances of discounts is high.
Next, negotiate with the tour op.
- Hold payment as late as possible. Most tour ops can wait for payment up until a month before departure.
- Ask for alternate arrangements, and have it in writing. For instance, “in the event of security concerns such as terrorism, you will divert us to…” If your tour op isn’t willing to do this, consider changing.
Always obtain travel insurance for emergency evacuation, in addition to medical/trip interruption. And finally, set up a stay-in-touch schedule with a designated person back at home.
Remember that many developing countries rely heavily on your tourism dollars. You keeping away is playing into the hands of terrorists – that’s exactly what they want. With a bit of caution, you can expand your travels, and, in a time of doom and gloom, help these struggling countries out a bit too.