There has been a growing concern as to how safe it is to travel abroad. This concern stems from the ongoing acts of terrorism and travel cautions issued by the U.S. Department of State.
In March of 2016, the U.S. Department of State issued a Worldwide Caution “with information on the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens.” And in regards to travel to Europe, the Department of State says that they have “credible information that indicates terrorist groups continue to plot near-term attacks in Europe and that all European countries remain vulnerable to attacks from terrorist organizations.” European authorities also warn of the “possibility of attacks that could occur with little to no warning. Extremists have targeted large sporting events, theatres, open markets, aviation services, transportation systems, and public venues where people congregate.”
So the answer is not a simple one—it is a personal decision.
There are risks that we face every day when we walk out the door—whether it be driving on the road, participating in high-risk sports activities, or simply going to a movie. So if your dream is to travel abroad, and you have made the decision to do so, here are some suggestions on how to put your apprehensions to rest.
First of all know that you have advocates abroad—Embassies/Consulates and the U.S. Department of State. They are there to help you…should the need arise when you are abroad. They are also a great resource for providing information on your destination country such as entry/exit requirements, areas to avoid due to a high crime rate, suggested medical facilities, and much more. By registering in the Smart Travel Enrollment Program through the Department of State, you make it easier for them to assist you in case of an emergency.
Another suggestion is to learn as much as you can about the country you wish to travel to. Read some guidebooks and check out reviews on lodging (and more) from people who have been there. Don’t just rely on the beautiful, glossy brochures that are meant to entice you to visit. Get the facts.
And one of the best reasons for traveling?
You get to experience the culture of another country up close and personal, and the people living there take on a whole new significance. They are no longer someone you just hear about on the news.
And the end result? The world becomes a smaller place—and meeting your kind neighbors on the other side—makes it feel like a safer place to live.
So arm yourself with the facts and make an informed decision that is not based on fear…for that will only ruin your trip.
Here are 7 More Suggestions on How to Alleviate Your Travel Concerns:
- If you have reservations about the language barrier, either learn key phrases of that foreign language or stick with countries that speak English. Learn about the local culture and what could be considered offensive and plan your wardrobe so you will blend in. And as always, be aware of what is going on around you and avoid looking lost. That may invite trouble.
2. If you know how most thieves and scam artists operate, you can usually outsmart them and keep you and your goods safe. There are some common tricks used by criminals, and they love to target tourists—so know how to spot their ploys. Use only taxis with a prominent logo and a telephone number and call for a taxi in advance. Make sure the picture in the cab matches that of the driver. The hotel concierge or desk clerks will usually be happy to give you recommendations on taxi services, restaurants, sites to see, and areas that are safe to venture into.
3. Keep your valuables (passport, important documents, extra credit cards, cash, etc.) locked in the hotel safe or carry them in a money belt (be sure to keep copies in a separate bag). Keep your valuables locked up and out of sight. Leave anything that is hard to replace safely at home.
4. Do not access your financial or personal information on Wi-Fi.
5. If you plan on renting a car abroad, be sure to understand that country’s laws and requirements and be prepared for driving on the left side of the road (and remember that every time you cross the street when walking). Rent a vehicle that fits in with the locals and be sure to have the necessary insurance coverage. Be sure to get an International Driving Permit before you leave the U.S.
6. Keep yourself healthy and avoid food poisoning by knowing what foods and drinks you should not eat and avoid buying food from street vendors, since it may not be safe to eat.
7. Purchase Travel/Medical Insurance for trips abroad. If you need to cancel your trip (for covered reasons), you will get reimbursed for your prepaid expenses. The medical insurance will cover you if you become ill or injured, or if you need emergency transportation back to the U.S.
For more information on safety abroad, review my previous post on Staying Safe When Traveling Abroad: Beware of Thieves and Scams.
For insightful travel ideas, check out my book:
Know Before You Go: Traveling the U.S. and Abroad
and wherever books are sold