Thursday, December 8th, 2016

Travel Safety: Always Consider the Source

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jordan-friends-gallery

“You shouldn’t go there. It’s not safe.”

STOP.

As soon as you announce your upcoming travels, no matter to whom, you’ll probably be hit with at least one person saying, “It’s not safe.”

Whether the person is protesting the act of solo female travel — which is ridiculous — or travel to a particular destination, it’s important to evaluate whether or not this concern is warranted.

In short, when people voice concerns about your travels, it’s important to consider the source. Here are some examples of the most common sources that provide inaccurate or incomplete information.

Dubrovnik from Above

The Concerned Loved One

“I don’t want you going to the Balkans. That’s not safe.”

You love your family and friends. You don’t want to upset them, but you want to be clear that the decision is yours. That’s why it’s critical that you walk the line between giving them the benefit of the doubt and taking their advice with a large grain of salt.

It’s possible that when your parents hear about Bosnia or Kosovo, they’ve only thought of those countries in the context of war, violence, or ethnic cleansing, when in reality, the Balkans have been safe for travelers for more than a decade. Likewise, they may lump Jordan in with more troubled countries in the Middle East like Syria, when in reality Jordan is an extremely safe place to travel.

You and I both know that these views are not accurate. And while you should do your loved ones the courtesy of listening to their concerns and discussing how you’ll stay safe, it’s important not to let their opinions overpower you to the point of changing your trip.

When listening to a concerned loved one, here are things to keep in mind:

Does this person travel?

Does this person travel in my style of traveling (i.e. backpacking as opposed to resort travel)?

Has this person been to this destination?

Has this person been to this destination recently (in the past 3-5 years)?

If the answer to all of these questions is yes, then you’ve most likely got a good source on your hands and should listen closely if he or she voices concerns for your safety.

Consider the source: while your loved ones obviously care about you, they are likely not the most knowledgeable source when it comes to your travel destination.

Boracay

The Scary Government Warning

“U.S. citizens should continue to defer non-essential travel to ________, due to the high threat of kidnapping of international travelers and violence linked to insurgency and terrorism there.”

Scary, right?Β It sounds like something out of Venezuela or Yemen.

But this warning is actually for the Philippines.

The Philippines? How is this incredibly safe country on the State Department’s travel warning list?!

In the United States, a country will appear on the State Department’s travel warning list even if the nation’s troubles are limited to one small region. That’s the case in the Philippines, where the terrorist organizations MILF and MNLF have been known to carry out terrorist activity in the Sulu Archipelago and the south of Mindanao.

That region within the Philippines is small — tiny, in fact. The main island of Luzon is completely normal, as are the Visayas (Boracay included) and Palawan, which are the regions visited by the majority of foreign tourists. Most casual tourists wouldn’t visit the Sulu Archipelago. Mindanao itself is quite large — the second largest island in the Philippines — and some parts, including the region surrounding Cagayan de Oro, are popular with tourists, but the terrorism-affected areas of the south are only a small portion of the island itself.

In other words, read through your government’s travel warnings carefully. While your country could be on the list, your particular destination might not be affected whatsoever.

The problem is that many people take government warnings as gospel — that if a country is on the list, it shouldn’t be visited under any conditions. But that’s not true.

Consider the source: government warnings are meant to be read in depth and problems in one region do not indicate problems in the entire country.

Wat Pho Buddhas

The Sensationalist Media Report

“Another day of violence grips the Thai capital as political protests continue to escalate…”

If a country is engulfed in violence to the point of dominating news coverage in your home country, chances are the troubled country will be covered in a manner that paints a grim image — especially on the 24-hour news channels that are constantly competing to outdo each other.

Thailand is the perfect example of this. Bangkok has been going through protests since November 2013, an echo of the situation three years ago. That said, outside Bangkok, things are 100% normal, and even within Bangkok, the protests can be easily avoided.

That’s not the image painted by the media. From what you see on the news, you’d think the whole city is burning and that people are fleeing in droves, which couldn’t be further of the truth.

Consider the source: the news is not in the business of showing you what it’s like to travel there.

Family on a Motorbike in Kampot

The Faux-It-All

“What if the Khmer Rouge rise again?”

Believe it or not, somebody said those words to me when I planned my first trip to Southeast Asia.

You will always meet people who think they know all there is to know about the world and make wild assumptions without any knowledge or evidence to back them up.

Don’t waste your time and energy arguing with people like this. Smile, nod, thank them for their concern, and save the eye-rolling for when you get home.

Consider the source: this is not a source.

Ladies in Paris

How to Find a Reputable Source

If you’re concerned about upcoming travels, it’s a good idea to find a source — or, ideally, a few sources — that you can trust. That means someone who is familiar with your destination and has traveled there within the past few years.

Talk to a travel blogger. A travel blogger who has recently been to your destination would be happy to give you answers to any specific questions you have. If you don’t know a blogger who has been to that region, ask a travel blogger you know for a recommendation. I’m always happy to refer readers to bloggers who are more experienced in traveling Mexico and India, for example.

Join the local Couchsurfing community. It seems like every major city or country in the world has its own community on Couchsurfing.org, complete with a forum and a calendar of local events, and you can join any of them. In each regional group you’ll find lots of locals and expats happy to answer any questions you might have.

Ask on public forums. While Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree is an enormous travel forum with lots of readers, some newbies are shocked by how harsh some of the members can be. My suggestion? Read the FAQs for each country/region’s forum and search your question before asking it, else you might be met with comments of “You could have found this by doing a search” (so helpful). Alternatively, you can seek out local and expat forums for your destination.

How do you find trustworthy advice for your travels?

Comments

97 Responses to “Travel Safety: Always Consider the Source”
  1. Urska Furlan says:

    Completely agree with you! It’s happened quite a few times that I was very pleasnatly surprised in the countries that are considered “dangerous” and yet the only bad experience I ever had was being mugged very near my home (I would never expect it there)!

  2. When I announced I was going to India over my school holidays next month, everyone except for those who have been there (and my mom, she’s awesome) were quick to point out how dangerous it is. My biggest weapon is being a conscious, seasoned traveler. Boo to naysayers – just as Urska mentions, even your own home can be dangerous!

  3. Great tips! I got this backlash when I told people I was going to Costa Rica, FFS — Costa Rica! I think this attitude is especially prevalent in the U.S. where people generally just aren’t as widely traveled. Many of us grown up in a protected bubble because we’re so far from most other countries, and when your main source of information about other parts of the world is typical news media, well… it’s no wonder so many think the world is such a terrifying place.

  4. Anne says:

    These are great tips, thank you! It is very helpful to consider the source when you receive (sometimes unwanted) advice. My relatives have been quick to rain on my parade whenever I announce I am visiting a foreign country, and it’s usually a recycled news story they may not fully understand. When I told my friends I was planning on hiking in the rainforests of Australia, they immediately said watch out for snakes, spiders, ants, saltwater crocs, etc., and don’t swim because of sharks and jellyfish! It’s not just political or economical instability that worries people, many times it is wildlife, weather, natural disasters, lack of infrastructure or remoteness. If you are afraid of those things, then you’ll never leave your front door!

  5. Very true, Kate! I think the questions you say at the top are exactly what you should ask yourself when you consider the source. I mentioned something similar in my post about traveling solo in India. The US travel advisory says literally “women should not travel alone in India” which obviously would not only put girls off, but will make their parents worry like mine did! I think another great idea is to check the UK’s warnings because, for example, on India they say nothing negative about female travel and actually say there are “typically no problems”! PS if anyone has India questions you can send them to me πŸ˜‰

    • Alyson says:

      Checking the UK travel warning is a great idea – I’ve typically found them to be more practical than the US site! Perhaps because British citizens travel more they paint a better picture

    • Fantastic idea, Rachel! I actually prefer the UK warnings myself — they seem written more for travelers than just a dry list of where terrorists are.

  6. Alise says:

    Thank you for this article, Kate! This was super helpful. I don’t know how many people have told me that I’m crazy for wanting to go backpacking to places such as Asia by myself- but more often than not, they’re just jealous or wish that they were as adventurous!

  7. EuroTripTips says:

    Excellent advice as always, Kate. So many people pretend to be experts when they really are not, especially not when it comes to travel. It’s one thing for your loved ones to be concerned and ask questions if they are not knowledgeable about a specific destination, it’s another thing entirely to be judgmental about it!

  8. Susan says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more. When I announced I was going to Turkey right after the Gezi Protests started to dwindle down, so many people voiced their concerns about it being so unsafe and the risk of being caught up in protests. I went to Bosnia Herzegovina right after Turkey and when i announced that I was there on my Facebook with pictures of me swimming in the Kravica waterfalls, people quickly took the time to tell me I was insane and didn’t realize how much danger I putting myself in. I felt safer in Sarajevo that I do when I walk the of Downtown LA in the daylight. The people that voiced the most concern were ones that either don’t travel much or don’t take the time to read legitimate news sources.

  9. Priscilla says:

    Too right Kate!
    Imagine if foreigners stayed away from Boston fearing another Marathon bombing?! It would be silly. We all need to be personally vigilant and listen to the warnings about pickpockets and thugs preying on tourists, but warnings are just that – listen to the advice, take it under advisement, assess our own abilities to deal with unforeseen circumstances, have an exit strategy in any and all cities and countries and listen to our inner voices whether we are in Bali, Bogota or Bermuda, but don’t let it stop you from traveling!
    Great topic and safe travels all!
    Cheers,
    Priscilla

  10. Rachel says:

    I appreciated this post! I’m planning a RTW Trip and I’ve gotten support but enough warnings to think there’s no way I’d get through the ordeal without being raped and sold into foreigner slavery! I met with a friend who had done a similar trip and it was the most reassuring conversation I could have had. Posts like this and talks with those who have experienced it make all the difference!

  11. Mera says:

    Yup. My hubby and I just got back from a week in Guyana, South America. I use to live there in th 90s. Of course everyone and their mama was still telling us there are warning, daily shootings, you could get malaria!

    There was even a warning issues the week before we left for certain flights on an airline we were not flying on.

    Not saying you don’t need to be cautious but do not listen to anyone who has not lived there or been there recently.

    http://www.travelbymera.com

  12. Melissa says:

    “What if the Khmer Rouge rise again?” HAhaha. Did they mean like rhetorically or were they actually worried they’d reorganize and RISE in the week or so you were there?

    On one hand I want to give people who haven’t had the opportunity to get out of the States a pass – foreign countries are usually only in the media for negative reasons so some of the fear is understandable. When I moved to South Korea lots of untraveled family members freaked out a bit because they knew just enough about the country to know that there was a crazy dictator somewhere on that peninsula with nukes.

    But I’ve also literally had people tell me they were too afraid to go to New York City. Like, believed they’d be shot in broad daylight on the streets of Manhattan kind of scared. I’ve also had people tell me they’re nervous to drive across the bridge in Portland (where I live) from the wealthier west to the east side . . . I know people who haven’t crossed one of the bridges in years. *That* kind of mentality horrifies me a bit – and it does carry over into fearmongering international travel warnings too. Sad that people miss out on so much.

  13. Great post! I always get “advice” from people that don’t travel. I love showing them statistics that often show where they live is more dangerous than where I am traveling.

  14. This totally made me feel better about all the warnings I get from family members. I swear, I can’t mention a country outside of the US without my mother sending me an exorbitant amount of links to online warnings about it…even if the warnings are for one small area, like you said!

  15. This. Is. GOLD. Thank you so much for writing this Kate!! Unfortunately I live in a country with the highest murder rate in the world (Honduras) and the island I live on (Roatan) is much safer than the mainland, but still not as safe as people tell the tourists it is. So I have the opposite problem – they end up in all kinds of trouble because they thought it was way safer than it is! Still, considering the source should be the #1 thing people consider before they take that kind of feedback into consideration. It goes both ways – like, is that taxi driver telling you that hotel is totally safe even though it’s giving you a bad feeling and he’s probably making commission off taking you there? Anyway, this post is great and I’m going to share it everywhere πŸ™‚

  16. Olivia says:

    Yep. I found out the other day that Spain is still on alert from the bombings ten years ago and is on lists as being unsafe. SPAIN. Who worries about going to Spain? Nobody said anything about me coming here (except for the normal concerns from my mum), but mention a possible trip to Morocco or Turkey and people freak out.

  17. Cyra says:

    Great post Kate.

    I just returned from Jordan, and of course I had people who were worried about me travelling there alone due to the current situation in the Middle East. However, the problems are in the neighbouring countries in the Middle East and Jordan is not involved in these issues.

    It was one of my first times travelling solo outside of European countries (normally I am with my partner or friends) and not only was it a great experience, but I felt incredibly safe and unthreatened. It is a shame that tourist numbers in Jordan are low due to peoples untrue perceptions of the country.

  18. Chloe says:

    Hey Kate

    Great blog, by some coincidence I only seem to go to countries with travel warnings and in the midst of upheavals.

    Egypt, India, Thailand, even Tonga was in military takeover while I was there. Ive also ridden 1000kmacross Mongolia and nobody thought I should do that either . They’ve all been fantastic adventures and if I’d listened to all the warnings from my non traveling freinds I never would have gone

    Good advice, great blog

    http://www.chloephillipsharris.com

  19. My family (particularly my mom) gets very nervous about me traveling alone, but it’s something they’ve gotten used to over the past several years. I generally disregard what they say (kindly, because I know it’s well-intentioned) unless – like you mentioned – they have travelled there or have knowledge of the place I’m going.

  20. Katrinka says:

    When I moved to Turkey, my mother was terrified that I was going to be close to Syria. Of course, Istanbul is not that close to Syria. And discounting police violence at protests (which I avoid), Boston was the city that was attacked by terrorists. I would never avoid Boston and I wouldn’t avoid Turkey. (My mom still thinks I’m too close to Syria, though.)

    • Alyson says:

      Katrinka – some of my family said the same thing! Then I had to show them on a map the distance between Istanbul and Syria. Once they came to visit, seemed to clear up some of the concerns πŸ™‚

  21. Emily says:

    I really like those 4 questions to ask yourself. We were overwhelmed with reactions from friends and family alike when we said we’d start our trip in Mexico and then move to Colombia. Yes, there are dangerous pockets in both, but it is all about smart travel. Sadly, I think the media really plays a part which doesn’t let people get to see and experience those beautiful countries.

  22. W.Siham says:

    Nice article! I once read that Morocco was on some country’s travel destination red list -I was born and raised there- you can only imagine my laughter whilst reading that!!! and yeah definitely never give much credit to someone who had never traveled or those who only know resort like travel

  23. Naomi says:

    How many of these I had to answer when I announced I was going to Colombia! There are certain areas that are no-go but unless I wanted to actively search out the FARC, I had nothing to worry about. I was in Medellin (cue various alarm bells from various sources) and I took advice from people who had travelled there and locals, if they advised me not to go anywhere, then I took their word as bible. The best advice I got was “Don’t do anything you shouldn’t be doing.” which was pretty much true. The only incidents I heard of travellers having to pay bribes to police was when one of them had been caught with drugs (why you would do drugs in Colombia is beyond me but that’s another story for another day.) and the incidents to do with muggings were usually when people had been careless with flashing their valuables. Research is key before your trip but certain sources have to be taken with a pinch of salt!

  24. Geek Goddess says:

    My mom always gives me the “I will be worried while you are gone” but my dad never says a word. That is, until I told him I was going to Croatia last fall. He said “You know it’s not safe over there.” I found that really strange because his primary interest is military history, and so he well knows what is going on.

    We were perfectly safe and had a lovely time.

  25. Peg M says:

    Amen! I spent five months traveling through Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa a couple of years back, and if I had listened to all the people who genuinely thought that I was in danger in most of those places, I never would have left my home in Washington, D.C. (which, ironically, when you look at statistics, is a FAR more dangerous place than almost anywhere I traveled). Good for you for making these points so persuasively and articulately. More women should pay attention to you–I almost let myself get talked out of the most amazing and formative experiences of my life. I’m grateful every day that I did that trip.

  26. Excellent advice. The next time someone gives me this message (which coincidentally happens to be before every trip I take), I will just post this article on their FB wall, leave it there, and not say another word. lol

  27. Meryl says:

    So true! I’m flying to Bangkok for a quick weekend trip later this month and everyone is telling me how unsafe it is! But I’m pretty confident that I can avoid the protests, as I’ve made sure to read up and be updated on what’s going on in Bangkok.

    And yes, I also agree on what you said re: Philippines! It’s my home country and it’s definitely frustrating to hear tourists feeling scared to visit us.

  28. Ivana says:

    Indeed good point to check IF a person ever been to country and WHEN!
    We usually go for wiki travel advice, travel fish and travel blogs that we follow for longer time and we can trust the info written there. BUT-whatever travel advice we look for, we check that we find at least 3 similar or same opinions. Otherwise we just rely on our own first hand experience and make our opinion when we get to a place.
    Another interesting thing is to consider who your source work for πŸ˜€
    Before we left Thailand to Laos, we met in Chiang Mai an Italian doctor working for an official Laotian medical care department and suggested us to get rabies vaccination for Laos because stray dogs are crazy and dangerous there so better to be safe than sorry.
    After being ‘warned’, we did the vaccination. I do not have to tell you what we found in Laos. Dogs are sleepy there, not bothering anyone.
    Well, another lesson how not to trust a doctor with all s/he says.

  29. great advice! Some people are so willing to give their opinion but how often do they know what they are really talking about? Not often.

  30. Marc Enriquez says:

    Thank you Kate for this great article. You are right especially in the Philippines where I was born and grown. I migrated here in Canada in 2005 and keep going back home. Last December I’ve been to amazing Samal island of Davao City in Mindanao Island and in Boracay too of Visayas Island were lots of foreign visitors. I totally agree with you.

  31. Alicia says:

    This post really resonates with me at the moment – I just got back from South Korea two days ago, and before I went I had everyone from my parents to my friends asking me ‘Why are you gong to Korea?? It’s unsafe! The people are arrogant and rude!’. It got so bad that at one point I was about to bend to my family’s wishes and just go to Japan instead (been there solo before, never to SK), but I thought ‘screw it, I WANT to go to South Korea!’

    Of course, the people were lovely, I never felt unsafe even for a moment, and had a bloody amazing time. This is an excellent post, particularly regarding family/friends – they’re usually not talking from experience and are just worrying! (I did have to promise my 85 yo grandmother that I was only going to the South, not the North, though πŸ˜› No Grandma, I don’t have any trips to Pyongyang planned!)

  32. Yana says:

    Couldn’t agree more!
    I do the right research via blogs i follow (real time info from real people with the same travel style as me) and almost never rely on random ramblings from people.

  33. Hi Kate,
    You’re absolutely right. I’ve been traveling in Thailand for the last month and have seen no impact from the protests. I’m also heading to Colombia in May and have had so many friends Zander family tell me it’s not safe based on past dangerous activity, but so many people who have recently traveled there say it fine in most areas!

  34. Carmel says:

    I think you’re absolutely right. I try to remember to think of the source and try not to get defensive right off the bat, knowing that probably won’t help the discussion. We had a ton of these kinds of remarks before we left and while we’re traveling. It’s always good to be aware of what’s going on and know where to avoid (such as that island in the Philippines where, as far as I know, basically everyone avoids or certain areas of Bangkok). Most of the time, I feel safer in other parts of the world than a lot of American cities! Of course, depends on where I am. πŸ˜‰

  35. Gary Thomson says:

    Ive always found that a lot of scaremongering comes from backpackers themselves. Stories can grow arms and legs. How many times have you sat in a bar and been told never go to this place or that place because of major scams against backpackers by local mafias. When in reality the person telling the story was actually ripped of for an extra dollar by a taxi driver, Or the nightclub with savage security which should be avoided at all costs. What the storyteller forgets to tell you is that they were actually thrown out for dancing naked on the bar and trying to punch the DJ.
    Ive always found that you are the best judge. Stick to your instincts and follow your gut feelings and you will be ok.

  36. Jen says:

    Great post Kate. I have a close relative who repeatedly told me never to visit Singapore (yes Singapore!) because of a bad experience they had over 30 years ago. I have since been twice, never felt safer and want to go back again someday. This person, after seeing my photos and hearing my stories from Singapore, decided to visit Singapore last year and is now eating their words! I find the best advise always comes from someone who travels in a similar way to you, has visited the place recently and isn’t overly dramatic!

  37. tilly says:

    Nice safety tips, really helpful.
    thx man

  38. Rac says:

    I agree with almost everything you say, except for using Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree forums as they are so wildly inaccurate some of the posts are bordering on dangerous.

    You have to remember, many of the posters don’t live in the countries they are talking about or, if they’ve visited them, have often been there for just a few days and often in the company of other backpackers so have very little contact with locals.

    In the Thailand section for instance, I’ve seen answers to queries that would literally put someone in jail in Thailand if the advice was followed when it came to getting visas, doing overstays etc. Yet the same misinformation is spread again and again.

    Oh and yes, don’t listen to government websites, the news media or your closest friends. When I was moving to Thailand 12 years ago, I lost count of the number of people who asked me “You’re moving to Taiwan? Isn’t that dangerous?” Er….. “Wrong country and no” πŸ™‚

  39. Alyssa James says:

    This is really great advice. We should definitely be critical of every source of information about different places, regardless of what they say. I very rarely read travel advisories about different countries, mostly because it is their job to indemnify themselves against anything that goes wrong, so they’re usually over cautious. Definitely getting the local word on things on the ground is a great place to start!

  40. Evan says:

    I was so scared when first travel to Albania, about 15 years ago, because for all those what people (also Albanians) said to me about the country, but finally I still go very often to Albania, and I love this place but nothing is happen to me! In the same time I was robbed twice in my country’s streets!!
    I have been in the most of Balkan countries nothing is happen to me!
    http://www.evan-s.net

  41. Silvia says:

    So appreciate this! And definitely agree that travel bloggers and couchsurfing offer great safety advice. For me the most dangerous sounding places have usually ended up being the most welcoming and safe, because they aren’t as used to tourists so people go out of their way to take care of me. It was definitely like that in Central Asia, particularly Tajikistan, and so far has been the same here in Iran.

  42. sarah says:

    So true! I’ve written a couple of posts on this exact topic.

    It’s such a shame that so many people miss out on traveling to certain places because they get scared off by media, overdone travel warnings and well meant but incorrect advice from family and friends.

    We can be so quick to spread stories about that bad things that happen in the world but the good things often don’t get as much fanfare. As a traveler and a blogger/writer I think it is our responsibility to put the word out there that so many of these countries who are pegged as “dangerous” are perfectly safe to travel to. Just do some research and take the normal precautions that you would at home. An open mind and some common sense go a long way.

    The world is full of potential danger but in my opinion there is far more good than bad. Choosing not to travel out of misplaced fear just means that you will miss out on all the great experiences, and the wonderful people and places out there is this spectacular world we live in!

  43. Pamela says:

    I can totally relate to this! I have also hear many ‘advices’ from people expressing their concern and my safety to places they have never been before. It just totally put me off.

    Even when I travelled to UK alone, I have a colleague who told me to be careful because they don’t think it is safe out there. Even when I told me mum I am going to chiang mai with a friend, she said it is dangerous! I understand they are probably worried if I don’t make it back in a piece and I live in a very safe country but if anything bad would have happen to me, it could have been anywhere! So usually I tried not to roll my eye because I believe I am capable of making sounds decisions.

    People who are not well travelled and being contented in their comfort zone like to think that anywhere else in the world is bad. I am glad travelling makes me see things in a different perspective. πŸ˜‰

  44. Awesome post Kate! I just recently went to West Bay, Roatan off of Honduras. 95% of the people I told were legitimately concerned for my safety. It’s absurd that traveling to some foreign countries is considered unsafe, when you are at greater risk at home.

  45. Arti says:

    I can totally relate to this post, Kate! Living in India which is such a huge country and if there are small incidents of political tension in one part, the next thing I see in the news is that some country has placed India in its warnings!! That paints a grossly incorrect picture about the country.

  46. Amen to this, Kate! Before I went to Colombia, my mum was extremely concerned. I explained to her that the security situation has improved dramatically since the 90’s, and that the country is no longer under the control of drug barons. I explained to her that the news only show a country when it’s at its lowest – they never report on how a country that used to have problems has made progress. I had no trouble in Colombia whatsoever. She was concerned when I went to Romania, too, but after I posted a few photos on Facebook, she came around pretty easily and actually commented on how beautiful cities like Sibiu and Brasov are.

    As for the media…argh. EVERY time North Korea would make a threat against South Korea, my former home, I’d get messages from loved ones asking if it was safe, and I’d have to assure them that it was fine. I’d turn on CNN in my living room and they always made it look like the country was on the brink of war. I’d saunter over to my window and take a peek out, and people were just going about their daily lives. I decided that once Korean people started to panic, then I, too, would panic – but fortunately, that situation never arose. I even once had a reader who, no matter how much I tried to convince him, told me that he cancelled a trip because of ‘safety concerns’ reported on the news. Bah.

    Anyway I, like you, always solicit the advice of others who have recently been to a place and who have a similar travel style. I find that they’re the most reliable and accurate sources of information.

  47. Behan says:

    This is FANTASTIC. We live on a sailboat with our 3 kids and have been traveling almost 6 years, and it has come with a *lot* of unsolicited warnings disguised as advice about destinations we choose to visit. One other idea for you from our experience: a shareable map populated by reports from people who had been there. I’m a visual person, and this really helps me. Here’s an example-

    Background: We really wanted to sail through Papua New Guinea, a country which comes with lots and lots of scary headlines and government warnings and the whole panoply of faux information. It’s an AMAZING place and while there are definitely spots to avoid, plenty are entirely safe.

    Solution: I created a Google map and dropped icons with reports on safe/unsafe destinations in a green/yellow/red traffic light color coding. I could annotate each pin with a source or more info. It immediately painted a clear picture of the route we should take: through outer islands, instead of coastal sailing the mainland. Other wins: we shared read/write access with friends headed in the same direction, they added reports from their info and together we had a better resource to share.

    More info and a link to the map here:
    http://sv-totem.blogspot.com/2012/08/mapping-route-through-papua-new-guinea.html

    Love your post here, will reference and share!

  48. This is so true. I’m in Thailand now on a little remote beach and people (including my parents) ask, “But what about the riots? Isn’t it dangerous?” It’s hard for people who have not been to a particular country to understand from watching the news that this news coverage is only of a small area, like a part of Bangkok, not the whole of Bangkok. And this doesn’t affect much outside that area. Every time I’ve been to Rio de Janeiro it’s been during a period of heavy news coverage of riots in the Favelas. Yet I’ve never actually seen the riots with my own eyes. The rest of Rio was business as usual.

  49. Victoria says:

    I hear you Kate. I got looks and sighs of despair when I told my British colleagues that I was going to Asia solo. I went anyway and when I told friends that I was visiting Germany and Eastern Europe, I was sat down and the suggestion was made that perhaps, as a woman of colour, Eastern Europe wasn’t quite ready and would I be able to cope!

    Only one friend who had actually been to Asia said, “have a great time, party hard and drink lots of water!” So I did. Brilliant advice! Oh, and by the way, I moved to the Czech Republic and I now live in Germany!

  50. Charles says:

    On a visit to Luxor Egypt I we were told by the Kuoni rep that we were on no account to venture out of the hotel on our own. We asked about visiting the West Bank. We were told impossible there is no ferry across the Nile. We walked to the ferry and spent many days on foot and made friends withna local calesh driver and visited his home and met all his family. The Kupni rep was horrified

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