There's a lot going on in the world.
Some people have told me that they don't want to fly anymore. They're concerned about traveling in general.
Europe is scary to Americans due to terrorist attacks. The United States is scary to Europeans because of the mass shootings they read about. There's Zika in Brazil and poverty-related crime in many countries.
What's a traveler to do? What's a solo traveler to do?
It's Not Time to Stop Traveling
Travel is essential to our understanding of the world, its cultures and individuals. If we stop traveling now our understanding will come to us in sound bites and news flashes, documentaries and editorials. And even the most thoughtful of these can't give us a real sense of what it's like elsewhere.
Whether elsewhere is in another part of your country or another part of the world, needs to be understood. And even though we can't travel everywhere, by venturing out we realize how different a place can be in comparison to how it is represented through the media.
Travel helps us with nuance. Through travel we realize that the world and every place in it lives on a gray scale – nothing, no place, is exclusively black or white.
I believe that we must continue to travel. And it seems that's exactly what people are doing. According to Skift, a site focused on travel marketing, travel to Europe is up.
Safety Tips to Quell Your Travel Concerns
For those who tell me they have concerns about solo travel in these uncertain times I have a few tips for you.
- Choose a destination carefully. We all respond differently to news of violence so follow your own gut about a destination, not anyone else's and then research the safety reality as best you can.
- Embrace the local culture in major cities. Stay away from the major tourist spots by embracing the local culture. Statistically, there is less likely to be a problem in non-tourist spots.
- Travel off the beaten path. Most serious problems happen in cities. Take a road trip through the countryside and you'll avoid both flying and common targets.
- Share your itinerary. Leave a copy of your itinerary with family or friends. If your plans change let them know.
- Go cold turkey on cop shows. So many television show focus on crimes and serial killers as if they're a common occurrence and they aren't. Cool down your imagination. Stop watching these shows a few months before going.
- Check your government's recommendations. Here are the travel alert pages for countries from which we get the most readers. Know that governments always err on the side of caution and are slow to take advisories down.
- Register with your government. Use these links to register your travel plans with your government. If you're not from one of these countries simply google “register my travels” and your country name. The UK page seems to have disappeared.
- Carry your country's embassy information. Along with your passport and other documents, carry information on how to contact your country's embassy or consulate should you need help.
- Get travel insurance and read the fine print. Regular readers know that I always travel with insurance. I have since I started traveling in my teens. I've made claims and they've been paid. I've probably broken even over the years. Read Going Alone? Travel Insurance is a Must.
- Look for good in the world. Now that you've made great choices and put all your plans in place focus on the good in the world. The vast majority of people are good. The travel you'll do will be good. Focus on that as you count down to your trip.