In recent months, political instability has given travelers who want to see the pyramids in Egypt, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, or the temples of Thailand pause. At the drop of a dime, circumstances can throw an at best annoying and at worst dangerous wrench in travel plans. In most situations, travelers should not be dissuaded to go through with their plans, however caution should be exercised. Here are 5 tips to help you assess how you should proceed with travels to places that may face unrest.
1) Know before you go. It's a good idea to have a basic idea of current events in the country of your destination. You can also read up on your rights regarding photography and other local laws to be aware of. Reaching out on travel forums is another way to get an idea of the atmosphere if there are rumblings (or more than rumblings) to a place you would like to go or already have a ticket for.
2) Travel with a friend. There's truth to safety in numbers. Having someone to assess situations with and watch your back can be incredibly useful. Even in fairly innocuous but foreign situations, it's a smart move to have someone to walk home after dark with, watch over your stuff while in transit, or remind you not to flash your cash in the middle of a busy market.
3) Talk to locals. A major part of traveling is to learn about the culture and society of different places and there's no better way to do this than to talk to residents. Strike up a conversation with your taxi driver or at a local pub. Be cautious not to push sensitive issues, but if the person seems open, try and get the real down low on different issues their country may be facing and how serious those issues may be in terms of your travel plans.
4) Go to other areas of the country that are not affected. In many cases, violence or protests may be isolated to one city or even one neighborhood. Make plans to visit other areas or get to another region - however be aware that the risk of strikes and other disruptions could be heightened so decisions may need to be made quickly. Be flexible and open to seeing sites that may not have been part of Plan A.
5) Have travel insurance. If you're planning on traveling somewhere other than a beach at an all-inclusive, consider purchasing travel insurance just in case. Shop around for plans that cover medical, flight changes, and even evacuation.
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