I don’t know how things are where you’re from, but in the US, we’re constantly bombarded with messages that tell us traveling is dangerous. The media reports all the worst incidents. The government puts out travel advisories or even bans when analysts report on horrible incidents taking place. To be fair, bad things happen. However, they’re often either not as bad, or far more rare than we’re lead to believe.
An example of this is when the US had a travel ban in place for Turkey a few months ago. Were bad things happening in Turkey? Yes. Does that mean the whole country should be off limits? No. I met someone who’d been traveling through Turkey at the time, and he loved it. He didn’t mention having any issues, and I’m pretty sure he would have told me if there had been a serious, violent incident (involving him).
I was recently in Athens while protests were taking place. Some of them were violent. I never saw them. Some of the people staying in the hostel went out looking for a protest to see what the deal was. They came back disappointed.
Don’t get me wrong; there are definitely places I won’t go: Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Congo, Sudan…. However, most places are just fine as long as a proper risk assessment is done, and you stay vigilant.
While in Athens, there were a few incidents of people getting wallets, phones, passports lost/stolen. In every incident I’m aware of, the victim was severely inebriated; something I don’t ever recommend, even at home. So the basic message is: don’t be stupid.
But what about when you haven’t done anything wrong, and something bad happens anyway? There was an incident of theft in my hostel in Thessaloniki, and the victims were relatively careful.
Travel advice: If there’s a problem in the hostel, report it to the staff. They know who’s staying with them, and have access to resources you as an individual don’t.
In this case, the staff were able to discover the culprit, and call the police. The perpetrator was also arrested, and placed in jail. Which brings me to another point.
Travel advice: Don’t commit crimes in foreign countries. You’re likely to get caught, and punishments can be a lot more severe than you’re accustomed.
Anyway, the point of this post is to say this: Don’t let fear rule your travel decisions. Accept information, then analyze it. What are the best, worst, and most likely scenarios? Are they any different than when you’re at home? What measures can you take to mitigate potential risks? This kind of analysis reveals that most of the dangers touted by information ‘authorities’ are either overblown or easily avoided.
I hope this has encouraged you to consider traveling somewhere you previously thought was off limits. The guy that was in Turkey said he didn’t run into another person from the US the whole time he was there; which is quite rare as we tend to be everywhere. He has the travel ban to thank for getting him away from the familiar, and giving him better exploratory experience.
Until next time, safe travels. And go have some awesome adventures off the beaten path!