Thursday, 2 April 2015

Don’t let sensationalized travel fear invoke paralysis

standing at the precipice
creativecommons image by charleskremenak on Flickr

by Todd Romaine

Let’s face the obvious fact – you will die at some point. Now, getting over this depressed reality should not paralyze you from living life and seeing the world in real-time versus from in front of a television set.

It seems all too often that the world is becoming a small place to travel within when the broad strokes of generalization of ‘no-go zones’ are factored into trip planning. Generally speaking, the Middle East is considered very volatile with the usual images of suicidal bombers and revolution. Africa is considered dangerous for contacting deadly viral diseases to war and to horrific crimes against locals and tourists alike. Much of Asia, with the exception of the southeast portion, is considered to share the same traits as the Middle East and Africa.

Right off the bat, most people now eliminate 2/3rds of the world and stick to safe countries in safe regions to ensure a continuance of life as they know it. And with the overload of information in people’s lives, we thrive and make decisions based on a combination of news or research snippets followed by gut reasoning.

When Ebola hit the news, people were avoiding Africa and all parts of it, despite the fact it only impacted three countries in West Africa and left the remaining 51 countries alone. While images of the Middle East show chaotic conditions, much of the region is peaceful or safe to travel, or countries considered dangerous generally have pockets of it, versus a wide swath of territory (exception being ISIL in Iraq, Syria).

Unfortunately official country reports tend to reinforce these stereotypes and this compounds the issue further with insurance companies, travel companies and the likes also terminating or intensifying their view of the area.

I am not suggesting you shrug this information off completely but spend time doing research on where you want to travel and what areas to avoid.

Admittedly, I went to Yemen last year as a tourist, a country that only receives a handful of American tourists and likely even less Canadians. Despite the political issues, kidnappings etc., I was able to find pockets of the country that were very safe and was able to enjoy it without dealing with hordes of tourists.

Traveling solo or with a small group tends to attract less negative attention and spending money with a reputable tour group also greatly assists with navigating away from potential dangers.

Maybe the world is going to hell in a hand-basket, but most of the world is still relatively safe and if do your own detailed research, and do proper planning, you have the opportunity to see reality in your own eyes versus the often drummed up sensationalism of mass media.

Related resources
Fear, Risk and Travel - Gary Arndt, Everything Everywhere
Travel warnings and advisories - Independent Traveler
Why you should ignore travel warnings - Reid's Italy
Travel in the time of Ebola
May the odds be ever in your favour
What counts as a country visited?

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