Friday, July 19, 2013

Traveling in an Unstable Country: What to Keep in Mind and How to be Safe

About the Author: Andrei Milosevic is an international student, traveler, and writer.  Over the past few years, he has been studying international business and providing advice and insight into making international calls.  In his free time he kayaks and Skypes with his best friend back home in Serbia.

The media often paints a limited picture of the truth.  We watch news programs and witness turmoil and general devastation.  It’s commonly sensationalized and stokes feelings of anxiety in fear in those who are likely an ocean away from what they’re seeing on their television screen or on the internet.  It’s not to say that these feelings are unfounded.  The world is in a constant state of change, and sometimes that change, for a time, is seemingly violent.  For travels or would-be travelers, these news reports can be discouraging.  Friends and family members may sway you from traveling to regions facing perceptible turmoil, such as Egypt, Turkey, or any other Middle Eastern country that enters the mind.

If you plan on entering a region experiencing aggressive social or political (or both) change, keep the following mind before disembarking:

Do your research.  
Read the news from as many sources as possible.  Al Jazeera, BBC, CNN, or whatever you choose.  Check travel advisories on governmental websites, such as the US Department of State, Gov.UK Foreign Travel Advice, or Canadian Travel Advice and Advisories.  Stay as updated as possible—and remain updated, from before you leave and during your stay abroad. Unrest often isn’t widespread, but situated in concentrated pockets and depending on your try of travel, may not be encountered (unless, of course, you’re going to either participate in demonstrations or to report).  If you know where things are happening and understand the risks, it will be easier to plan accordingly.

Makes sure as many people as possible know where you are and when.  The more information they have, the better prepared they will be in the event something goes awry.  Additionally, before you travel, make sure you’ll be able to maintain communication, wither through the internet or with a cell phone that will operate at your destination.  You may need to purchase a new phone (and SIM card) when you arrive.  Also, if you don’t know any of the local language, learn some.  It doesn’t need to be extensive.  Simple phrases related to yes and no, giving directions, and numbers tend to be the most important, but don’t limit yourself.  The more you learn, the better.

Don’t stand out.  
If you’re coming from a western country, don’t dress to advertise that you are in fact coming from a western country.  While there are a variety of clichéd fashions associated with people from the West, it’s a good idea to avoid bright colors or patterns.  Go for the neutral greys and beiges and related hues.  Avoid wearing jewelry, particularly if it’s readily visible.  Avoid other signs of valuables, such as a camera slung around your neck, head or earphones, or anything outwardly clipped/attached from a belt or pocket.  If you keep these or similar items on you, keep them well contained in a shoulder bag slung diagonally over one shoulder and resting on the opposite hip or in a secure backpack, clipped across your chest. 

Find the embassy.  
Know where your country’s embassy is located relative to where you’ll be staying.  Keep the pertinent contact information on you (along with your passport and other identification paperwork) in the event you need to get a hold of the embassy.  Let them know you’re in the country and make them aware of your travel plans. 

Avoid Crowds.  
This is on a country to country basis.  If it looks like a demonstration or protest is forming, it’s generally a good idea to back off.  It’s purely a judgment call, but if tension begins to build, it’s not uncommon for violence to break out and these situations can and have proven more dangerous for women than men.


James Brown said...

Very informative.Every person wants to have a pleasant and hassle free vacationThanks for Really good and useful blog.

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