Having lived and worked in foreign countries that at times have been perceived as risky travel locations gives me a global perspective on this recent slew of travel alerts. Over the past years I have safely navigated places like Athens, Greece in the middle of the riot riddled December of 2009. I traveled through the Metro in Moscow on a regular basis while living there in the midst of heightened anti-American sentiment after the US bombed Kosovo. I live in a place today that many Americans would associate with the Middle East but that suffers a stigma that it has not recently earned.
Turkey has been one of the safest traveling experiences I’ve had in my life, but before lauding this as a travel destination (You’ll notice it’s not on this list) I would like to give you all a few tips on safe travel in these turbulent times:
Often times we consider ourselves safe in numbers. There is a definite appeal to traveling in larger groups with a guide and bus driver taking us from site to site, but if history shows us anything it is that large groups of people traveling together make for better targets. If you are having doubts about my assertions look at this record of terrorism in Egypt over the past two decades. The best way to pass for local while traveling and to attract less attention is to avoid speaking at a high decibel and the easiest way to speak at lower decibels is to travel in an intimate group where the guide neither has to yell directions ahead to fifty people nor do the travelers have to yell “wait up!” while running to catch up with the vanishing group and hundreds of prying eyes watch in curiosity or in the worst of cases malice of intent.
Traveling off-peak usually means you can save money on flights, as prices often drop with the drop in demand in the travel industry. With a custom tailored trip you can avoid the highly congested places and get off the beaten path while avoiding those areas where terrorism and crime work best – tight, crowded areas. A private guide for a small group of travelers can make the difference in avoiding such locations as well as give a much better experience tailoring a trip to your specific needs. Safety can be a priority when traveling small, and customized.
While not traveling in groups can significantly reduce travel risk there are several other things that heighten risk in travel. By being a bit more conscientious in our use of mass communication we can protect ourselves better and those with whom we travel. Being vague can be good, especially when it comes to updating your status on social network sites such as Facebook or Twitter. Keep your cell phone charged but turned off for the purpose of emergency use and buy a local SIM (GSM) card and use it in place of your US number. This both allows you lower phone rates and can keep you off the grid. Make sure you buy your SIM card from larger cell providers and not from back street cell phone hawkers. Remember even if the local government is keeping tabs on you that is better. Almost every government is interested in keeping the legal guests to their country safe from harm. It is good business sense on their part to protect visitors to their country.
As my mother always said when I left home at a late hour, the majority of crime happens between the hours of 11PM and 3AM. Following my mother’s advice has saved me a lot of grief over the years. Asking travel experts for advice and following it can help keep you safe on the road. If you have any questions regarding the potential dangers of travel to the Near East and specifically Turkey then please feel free to comment or write us at firstname.lastname@example.org . We’ll be happy to put to bed any fears you may have about travel to the this part of the world while giving you an honest assessment of potential dangers for travelers in this part of the world.