Following the terror attack in Paris on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, the recently issued global travel warning might have some of you considering a staycation instead of an international trip, but don’t drop your overseas travel plans just yet. Understanding these travel warnings and alerts begin with looking at how they are issued, what they actually cover, and where the threats really are.
Read The Details
Travel warnings are not new, and in many cases, they are ongoing. Take Mexico for instance. If you look at the State Department's website for travel warnings you’ll see one for Mexico. A first glance may have you thinking twice about going south of the border, but that would be a mistake. Drill into the warning and you’ll see that it refers to “…the risk of traveling to certain places in Mexico due to threats to safety and security posed by organized criminal groups in the country.” Scroll down a little bit and you’ll see a more sober perspective including this: "Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year for study, tourism, and business, including more than 150,000 who cross the border every day.”
When you read into the actual warning, it’s clear that the vast majority of Mexico is safe for travelers. It’s also clear that the tourism destinations that Mexico is so famous for are untouched by these warnings. Indeed, recent statistical evidence from the FBI shows the murder rate in Orlando is higher than the tourism destinations in Mexico. Has that stopped American’s from visiting Disney? Of course not, and it shouldn’t stop you from traveling to Mexico or many other places around the world.
We have recently seen acts of terrorism affect Canada, Australia and most recently Paris. Should you avoid these places? Before answering, consider our own situation in the United States. We’ve had public buildings bombed, army bases shot up, and even a woman beheaded at work. All of these were acts of terrorism, yet most people continue to go about their day-to-day lives without a second thought.
In fact, the French capital is probably a safer bet after last week's fatal shootings by Islamist militants because the city's museums, monuments, big stores and amusement parks have more police watching them.
Most international destinations you are interested in visiting are like many places in the United States. There are areas to visit, and areas to stay away from, in both cases. The key is in knowing what to avoid. A good travel professional or tour operator can help provide those insights and make sure your trip is both rewarding and safe. Is if fool proof? No, but then again, neither is driving your car home from work today. You can choose to stay home and live like a hermit or you can choose to travel forward.
Getting to Ridiculous
For those who want to know where they should absolutely not travel to I have the following ridiculous suggestions: Stay out of North Korea, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and the Ukraine. Ridiculous? Yes, they are, as they shouldn’t even need mentioning. I mention them to illustrate that the vast majority of the world is safe to travel to if you take the necessary precautions.
Here’s another one: avoid the Ebola infected regions of western Africa unless you’re going there as a medical professional to treat patients.
Now, for the not so ridiculous: understand that Africa is huge and the Ebola infected area represents a tiny portion of the entire continent. It is so big that you can fit the United States, China and India all within Africa…and still have plenty of room to throw in many more countries. The idea that an issue in a tiny sliver of that continent could affect you on a safari thousands of miles away is, quite frankly, ridiculous.
Let the comments fly, but understand that I just don’t write about these places and tell you they are safe, I actually travel to them. In 2014 I visited Africa, Mexico, Europe and a number of other destinations.
Send me a plane ticket and I’d turn around and head right back. Travel warnings be damned.
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