Guidelines To Keep You Traveling Through Dangerous Times
By Lea Lane
This new year’s immediate natural and man-made crises in Australia and Iran can understandably fill us with dread, with a desire to stay in bed and binge streaming video with a pint of Rocky Road, rather than hitting the road.
But especially if we love to travel, we need to continue moving throughout the world, sensibly and safely. You may wish to avoid regions such as Australia and the Middle East at this time. But hopefully, not for long.
You can and should seek to travel somewhere, and these common-sense travel safety reminders will help keep you going.
Check government agencies. The U.S. Department of State offers latest travel warnings and advisories. If there’s a warning, heed it. If not, and you’re comfortable, keep planning and go on to the next step. Each of us has different levels of apprehension and different reasons for travel.
Check out fact-based informational sources with a minimal agenda; more than one established source, if possible. Use responsible media, internet and up-to-date guidebooks to clue you in. Be aware of who is informing about dangers — established authorities or fear-mongers. And follow weather — ahead of time — through government-sourced online sites, in various countries including the National Weather Service.
Focus on facts rather than opinion. Engage your critical thinking capacity, and cover all the factors — pluses and minuses — not just negative ones.
Travel when nature is kind. Hurricanes, droughts, mudslides, fires and much of nature’s wrath usually occur at certain times of the year. Avoid those times.
Evaluate risk vs. reward. If you always wanted to go somewhere, factor in the political situation and the natural scene at the moment. Choose with risk and reward in mind. If traveling somewhere brings you significant reward, then it’s more worth risk, as in other aspects of life.
Play the odds. Sometimes emotions cloud facts. The media often exaggerates the bad stuff. Friends who were planning to travel with you may cancel reservations even when the odds are heavily positive, and you are willing to travel. Evaluate real stats if you can, and consider if they lean heavily one way or another. And then live your travel dreams based on reality.
Make sure it “feels right.” Find the facts, listen to others, and if your decision still keeps you up at night and gives you agita, it probably isn’t the decision for you. But if you feel okay about a trip, and others’ fears don’t resonate, continue your plans. Head and gut will guide you, one way or the other. Be realistic and cater to your comfort level. You can say “no” for the moment and go somewhere else.
Stay connected. Let people know where you are, and stay in touch. Carry an international cellphone, using apps for free email. Get travel assistance for immediate medical help and other needs. If you’re in a potentially dangerous area, register with your embassy or consulate.
Keep a low profile. Respect local customs. Avoid large groups and tourist targets. Blend in. Be tactful and discreet. Choose local establishments rather than international chains.
Remain alert. Observe your environment. Avoid risky behavior. Learn exits. Lock your doors. Avoid walking at night on empty streets. Don’t enter unlicensed vehicles. Take minimum cash and credit cards. Carry photocopies of passport and credit cards. Don’t overdo physically. Carry a charged smartphone and extra battery. Remain skeptical and cautious, but still enjoy.
Define a plan B (and C). If things go wrong, be prepared with ready alternatives. You may want to travel, last minute, to another area or another part of the world. Travel insurance will help in that regard.
Live well, remain flexible, find facts and travel smart — but go. Somewhere.