Travel destinations can sometimes lead people to unsafe areas where safety is a grave concern. I know that I have been driven to see certain destinations and thrown caution to the wind from time to time. As travelers, we have all been there. To go or not to go, is the question. Why do some of the best attractions seem to be in the worst areas? Traveling with kids and solo travelers have more safety concerns. It is sensible for anyone to investigate potential safety issues for travel destinations. The process can be fruitless and daunting. I was less concerned about safety issues until I started taking the kids along, that’s for sure. Somehow it made more sense to trust the reward of checking a place off of my bucket list when I only had to worry about myself. Who knew that having kids would make me a safer traveller. I think Americans feel a false sense of security when visiting foreign countries. I know that I’ve seen more than my share of people with loud t-shirts and camera bags at places where I thought it would be better to blend in than stand out. In any given destination, it is never hard to pick out the Americans in the area, based solely on attire and behavior.
Large cities in the United States aren’t statistically safe, why would foreign destinations be any different? I had a student that came to me for self defense instruction for personal protection. She was a missionary and planned to depart for Guatemala for a long trip in a few months time. She was a seasoned traveler and sought me out because she had a bad experience in Costa Rica. She said that she was visiting the country alone and didn’t feel secure the entire trip. She dismissed the feelings as paranoia until she was forced into her hotel room and raped by a man who was walking in the hallway as she entered the room for the night. My client wasn’t out late and she didn’t drink or party. She didn’t look like a person who got taken in by the wrong crowd or exposed herself to undue safety issues, in my opinion. How could this horrible thing happen to a good person? Bad people are everywhere and predators exist in all countries.
I read one study by the FBI citing that research showed approximately 3% of society were sociopathic. A person driven to extreme behavior with no empathy for living creatures is the worst type of advisory. Tourists have always been targeted for crime on several different levels. Most people think of property crime as the most common threat in a travel situation. I have trained countless women who have stated that if approached by a criminal, she would “just give them the money.” I don’t think this is a bad idea given a circumstance where the bad guy only wanted money but what if they want more than money? Unfortunately, we never know the true intent of a bad guy in a given circumstance until it is revealed.
Luckily we have the choice of determining our travel destinations and the attractions we will visit. People who have different options for travel may want to limit destinations based upon how safe they would feel in a given location. I always have a better time in places where I feel safe and secure. I will provide these quick ideas to make safe choice easier. How safe is the destination and what are some resources to make an informed decision?
- US State Department is good for general information and general travel advisories.
- Local news media search of the city or country can be informative.
- Local law enforcement website. This resource may contain statistical data and or crime locational information.
- Forums or blogs where locals talk about issues. Google provides for easy translations, if required.
- I like to check the general buzz on the Internet by searching some broad key words.
Some online sources of information should be discounted when determining of a location is safe (in my opinion).
- Travel Bureaus- Tourism is a driving force in many economies. It is hard to get good advice from a biased source.
- Travel Agents- They don’t typically have local knowledge and commissions are at stake.
- Paid Google advertisements for the location
- Any source of online information that seems to be persuading people to come to a location or states it is “safe.”
I will use Venezuela as an example because it is likely that readers will already know it isn’t a safe place to go at this time. I know plenty of European people who swear by the awesome vacations that they have experienced in Venezuela. I have a friend from Israel who just told me about his fantastic trip there.
The Internet can be confusing. Beware. One Google search said this (keywords: Venezuela, “is it safe”, vacation): Great vacation at Coche Island – TripAdvisor http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk › … › SUNSOL Punta Blanca TripAdvisor LLC Rating: 4 – Review by a TripAdvisor user – Sep 11, 2014 – Price range: ££ SUNSOL Punta Blanca: Great vacation at Coche Island – See 325 traveller … It is safe, rooms are good, activities for adults and kids, family environment. … I have spend 10 days on Coche Island, Venezuela, with my husband as well as a group …Venezuela | Tranquil Lands Meet Aqua Waters …
– Caribbean Is Isla Margarita safe to travel to for Americans? Has – Localyte http://www.localyte.com/answers/5508 I can say that Isla Margarita is one of the safest places in Venezuela. … However, you should specify what kind of vacation you are looking for. …. yeah it is really safe there’s so many things to do there’s a lot of bars , disco, beautiful beaches..
I probed the local news and US State Department and got this (keywords “Is Venezuela unsafe”): Cruise Passenger Murdered in Venezuela’s Margarita Island http://www.cruiselawnews.com › Crime Walker & O’Neill, P.A. Feb 8, 2014 – The Venezuela Tourism Minister tweeted (@IzarraDeVerdad) his condolences and said that authorities were pursuing the … It should not be on anyone’s itinerary until such time as it is safe again. … Remember personal info? Venezuela Travel Warning LAST UPDATED: DECEMBER 11, 2014 The Department of State has issued this Travel Warning to inform U.S. citizens about the security situation in Venezuela. Tens of thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit Venezuela each year for study, tourism, business, and volunteer work. Violent crime in Venezuela is pervasive, however, both in the capital, Caracas, and in the interior. This updates the Travel Warning issued on June 4, 2014, to include amendments to the movement policy for U.S. Embassy personnel and their families. Sometimes destinations are small and don’t get much attention. In these cases, research should just take a little longer. Unfortunately, information can be spun several different directions and it is up to the individual doing the research to discern the legitimacy of the source and the weight they assess to the information. Recent, local guidebooks can potentially be a good source of information that can be relied upon to make safe travel decisions. ~Robb Hamic is a self-defense teacher and instructor development trainer for the U.S. Military, U.S. and International Law Enforcement and security professionals. He has taught self-defense to thousands of private individuals on the topics of personal protection, firearm deployment, tactics and scenario-based training. He has written columns for many U.S. Law Enforcement Instructor magazines and given years of news interviews on self-defense and gun related issues including his specialties: Active Shooter Response, Israeli Krav Maga and Israeli Combat Shooting. He is now pursuing his dream of cruising Miss Lone Star through the Caribbean in peace.