Safe Travels

As part of our ongoing series of guest posts, a friend of ours had these thoughts to share…

As an experienced traveler, I often hear a number of common questions from people who have not traveled and want to travel. One of those questions is “Have you ever felt unsafe while traveling?” This question is often accompanied with details of how they have not traveled out of fear for their safety, or how their parents will not let them travel by themselves. If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone ask “Have you seen the movie Taken?…” well I’d have a lot of nickels.

The answer to the first question is no, I have never felt unsafe.

My answer to the second is yes, I’ve seen Taken, but I’m not sure how realistic it is. (I’ll get back to this later.)

Perhaps I have been lucky. The sketchiest thing that has happened to me is a close tie between somehow ending up in an illegitimate tattoo parlor in an unmarked building down a dark alleyway in India, and having a stranger start to follow me around saying “I am god-man.” In both situations, I did not feel my life was in danger and nothing bad ended up happening. I always tell people that the most they have to worry about while traveling is getting their stuff stolen. Indeed, of all the stories I’ve heard from my traveling friends, the worst accounts involved stealing. No kidnapping, no rape, no death, no torture. I am not trying to say that these kinds of things don’t ever happen, because they definitely do. However, I was unable to find many statistics on violent crimes against tourists. What I did find were a few articles that pointed out how media hype takes statistics out of context and makes conditions sound worse than they are.

For example, Crime Report USA released an article warning people from traveling to Mexico because it was number one in a list of the top five countries for non-natural deaths of Americans. However, it was pointed out that out of all the countries on the list, Mexico receives a much higher numbers of tourists than the others. Also, the statistic included car accidents, suicides, and other accidents, not just homicides. Another country that has gotten a lot of attention in regards to being a dangerous place to travel is South Africa, due to the high crime rate. However, after some digging it turns out most of the crimes take place between people who know each other and in impoverished areas rather than tourist hotspots. Based on this information and my own experience, you are more likely to be safe than not while traveling. And honestly, I think the chances may not be much higher than in your own country.

As far as the movie Taken goes, if you are not familiar with the movie here is a synopsis: it is about a young woman who goes to Europe for the first time with her friend. They share a cab with a nice guy who then ends up leading kidnappers to where they are staying. The kidnappers sell them into sex trade.

While the sex trade is a very real issue (ALL over the world), from what I have read, tourists are not the main targets. And when they are targeted it is not as simple as following them home and then kidnapping them when they least expect it. It often involves getting to know the woman and then inviting her back to their home, to a party, etc.

My point in all of this is that traveling is safer than you think. It is not so much about the location as it is your own common sense and self-awareness. Research the area and/or talk to locals to find out what places are safe. You can also go to the government travel website: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertswarnings.html which will tell you any alerts or warnings about certain countries.

In addition, do not feel like you have to be nice to everyone you meet, if someone makes you uncomfortable, you can just walk away. Don’t go home with strangers. Be particularly careful if you go out at night or if you are drinking. You cannot be as comfortable as you are at home. It is a foreign country and you can never know what to expect. The best advice I can give is be aware, careful, and conscious and you will be safe.

I don’t want anyone to miss out on the opportunities and enrichment that traveling has to offer. Don’t let fear hold you back!

 

Here is an article that discusses how realistic the movie Taken is:

http://selfdefenseinsider.com/2012/10/03/the-abduction-of-women-how-realistic-is-the-movie-taken/

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “Safe Travels

  1. Thanks for this post. I’ve travelled quite a bit and the only time anything bad has happened to me is when I was the victim of a pick-pocket—in Chicago. Don’t tell my mother this, but when I was younger (early twenties), I traveled in rather foolish ways (such as hitch-hiking) and stayed in some total dives. Still nothing bad happened to me. I also lived for six weeks in Palestine (West Bank, Bethlehem) and found the people totally lovely. I’m not saying nothing bad will ever happen if you travel. Of course it can happen. But you are more likely to get in a car accident traveling down your local highway than to be the victim of a crime while travelling.

      • Some of my favorite travel experiences have been in the Middle East. I’ve found the people there to be almost uniformly warm and welcoming.

        Of course, I wouldn’t go anywhere there is a war or major upheaval going on. That seems to be a good chunk of the Middle East right now, unfortunately.

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