Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d know that the world is getting a bit crazy right now. The natural disaster count in just the last month or 2 is sky high and politics are a nightmare. It’s easy to sit in the comfort of your home, watching the news, and thinking that the world is too dangerous to bother seeing. Well, you’re not entirely wrong, but you’re definitely far from right.
Some cities in Mexico and some Caribbean islands have been devastated by recent events, and many people are staying away from the Caribbean as a whole. They’ve heard some islands have been destroyed, however they don’t bother to find out which. I get it, there’s a lot of commotion and it’s unclear what the real situation on the ground is. However the fact is, most of these countries still need tourism now more than ever to help with their economy to rebuild. Visiting and investing money into local businesses is very important to their rehabilitation and survival.
News stories and travel warnings about certain cities should call for awareness, but it shouldn’t deter you from investigating more into the story or even visiting. As far as security warnings go, most of the countries that have a ‘bad reputation’ are actually not at all as they’re painted out to be. It’s saddening when I hear someone write off an entire country because of a piece of information they heard a year ago. When it comes to traveling to a country that has recently had a security warning, it’s very important to do your homework and get all the facts.
Here’s why and when travel advisories should affect your travel plans.
Travel Alert vs. Travel Warning : Government issued travel warnings are notices put out about a city or country that has been effected by an unstable government, civil war, ongoing intense crime or violence, or frequent terrorist attacks. Warnings are kept in effect until the situation changes and it’s usually more long term. Alerts are notices regarding upcoming elections, health outbreaks, or short-term terrorist attacks.
Travel advisories focus on specific areas of a country and for specific reasons : The travel warnings & alerts on your countries government website are often very specific to where the threat is, be it on a certain beach, a border crossing, or a specific area. They give an explanation as well so don’t discount somewhere before reading what the warning was for. Yes, you should head the warnings for those areas, but don’t write off an entire country if the warning is for a remote part of it. For example, there are currently travel warnings to Florida but you wouldn’t avoid visiting the whole of the US because of it. There is technically a travel alert for all of Europe, but I live here and do you see everyone packing up and leaving?
Don’t use the media as a travel warning : The media is renown for painting skewed pictures of certain places to work towards an agenda. Don’t be fooled by this and don’t judge an entire country and its people by what you see on TV.
Don’t let fear restrict you : You heard some stories a while ago about a country and you’ve sworn off it ever since. Little do you know, that country has some of the most beautiful landscapes, the sweetest people, and most delicious food in the area. Times change, places change. Also, by reacting with fear to a terrorist attack, you are giving them exactly what they want and feeding their motives. Fear is a waste of your time and life.
Usually abiding by standard travel guidelines is all you need : There are some cardinal rules while traveling that, more often than not, will keep you as safe as if you were in your home country:
- Don’t wander into unknown areas alone at night
- Don’t wear flashy jewelry/technology, especially in poorer areas
- Keep your passwords, pincodes, and credit cards a secret. Shield your cards and cash when using the ATM
- Don’t leave your valuables unattended
- Always make sure someone knows your location
This is not to say you shouldn’t take necessary precautions or completely overlook government warnings. The warnings are in place for a reason, but it shouldn’t completely scare you away at first glance. My advice: Do your research, collect the right facts, get out there and see this beautiful world!