Travel

Is it safe to travel to [insert random country]?

“Is it safe to travel to country X?” Every time I see this question, I can’t help but cringe a little. I know that it’s likely coming from a place of good intentions, but it still forces me to involuntarily wince each time someone asks it.

Whose definition of “safe” are we using? I mean, what place IS safe?

Because if we look at the United States of America in comparison to other countries, we learn that a lot of places are “safer”. According to SafeAround, the USA’s safety index is 68.8. An index of 100 means the country is perfectly safe while 0 means it is extremely dangerous.

In the 2019 Global Peace Ranking, the United States is listed in 128th place. The USA ranks lower than countries like Niger, Nicaragua, the Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Brazil, and El Salvador. 

https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/safest-countries-in-the-world.html

So, is it really concern about “safety”?  Or is it just a different way of expressing fear?

My money says that this is ALL about fear:

  • fear of the unknown
  • fear of leaving your comfort zone
  • fear of something new or different

I know what you’re thinking. What about the Democratic Republic where all of those people were dying from tainted alcohol? What about the drug cartels in Mexico? Shouldn’t I be afraid of THAT?!

Are you safe in Mexico
Source: Unknown

It seems unfair to write-off an entire country based on what could be isolated incidents. Every country has problems but we have to be careful not to focus solely on them.

Mexico travel meme
Source: Unknown

It breaks my heart when people respond to things like the tainted alcohol scandal by canceling their plans or making comments like “that’s why I don’t travel outside of the US”.

I think responding with fear is a mistake. When confronted by these types of situations, the best thing to do is research. That way you can make an informed decision instead of one based on stereotypes and internet memes (not that there’s anything wrong with memes, just don’t base important decisions on them).

Start with the State Department’s travel warnings. Then register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) so you can stay updated on any security changes.

Other things you should do to stay safe include not drawing attention to yourself by wearing symbols of wealth and staying aware of your surroundings. Remember to use the same basic street safety rules you use at home.

I’d love to hear what you think about this topic. Do safety concerns impact your travel planning? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section below.

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