Travel Advisories: Can Common Sense Prevail?
What are travel advisories? I’m guessing most everyone knows the terminology, but what exactly is a travel advisory? The actual definition can be somewhat daunting but as with all things in life, there are two sides to every story.
- “Formal warning issued by a governmental or international organization (such as the UN) advising caution in traveling to specified destinations due to reasons such as armed violence, civil or political unrest, high incidence of crime (specially kidnapping and/or murder), natural disaster, or outbreak of one or more contagious diseases.” Businessdictionary.com
Can Common Sense Prevail?
Google the words, “Are there travel advisories for Paris, France” and you’ll find link after link highlighting one story or another about traveling to Paris and/or in Europe and yet, I would travel to Paris in a heartbeat. So, when it comes to travel advisories, do we give in to fear or can common sense prevail? This is not to say we should throw caution to the wind and travel without regard for the advisories, far from it. There are definitely places to which we would not travel. We would not travel to Baghdad, Iraq, but Joao at Nomad Revelations did in 2016 and by sharing his journey, he shares another side of the story.
What I have learned over the years – and as I’ve pushed myself more and more out of my comfort zone – is that there are two sides to every story and that the people of a nation are not the sum part of their government. It’s quite often just the opposite. The other piece of the puzzle is that more often than not, those of us in the United States can be egocentric in thinking our government’s advisories are the last word. We tend to forget that the whole world is out there traveling. Just because Americans couldn’t travel to Cuba, didn’t mean no one else could either.
Steering Clear of the Political Side
And, while I am steering clear of the political side of the two sides to every story rule, I do find examples in which the mainstream media perpetuates hyped up notions. Because after all, sex, fear and violence sells, right? Case in point: Nearly forty years ago during the revolution in Iran, a wall mural was painted. You may have seen it on a recent news broadcast; an American flag with bombs dropping over the stars and stripes. We have seen that mural. It is 40-years-old, the paint is peeling, and no one pays the least bit of attention to it. And, yet, the mainstream media has been flashing it across our television screens as if it was painted last week.
If you’ve been following us for a time, you know that in 2015 we spent 3 weeks traveling in Iran – a nation of people who are definitely not the sum part of their government. We chose to heed the travel advisories, but we let common sense prevail. You will never find a more kind, generous and hospitable people in the world. And yes, I may be a little biased, but if you don’t want to take my word for it you can read the words of other travelers who reached the same conclusion after traveling to Iran.
- Iran: The World’s Next Big Tourist Destination – Heart My Backpack
- Iran: Why We’re Going – Uncornered Market
It’s Not Just the Middle East
It’s not just the middle east that holds the focus of the mainstream media. I asked a well-traveled friend for her thoughts on traveling to countries with travel advisories and her response was, “Doesn’t every country have a travel advisory?” Yeah. It’s kinda like that.
Google the words, “Are there travel advisories for Mexico” and just like Paris, you’ll find pages of links. But ask our friends, Jim and Rhonda at The Next Big Adventure, who have been on the road in Mexico for the past 14 months, and they’ll tell you a sweet story of a culture and people that are kind and open.
- “It has been nearly 14 months since we crossed the border south into Mexico. Nearly 14 months of fascinating history, delicious food, gorgeous countryside, and friendly people. Nearly 14 months and thousands of miles covering all of Baja and the vast majority of the mainland. During our time there, we have been disheartened again and again with the negative media regarding this most beloved destination. The myths of Mexico as highlighted in the media are profound.” The Myth of Mexico in the Media
Both Sides of the Story
It would be irresponsible of any government entity not to provide travel advisories, but, it’s what we do with the information that’s important. And, with the vast world of Google at your fingertips there is a plethora (such a great word) of information out there just waiting for you to find it. You can contact tourism boards, read travel blogs and/or join a social media forum, there are endless ways in which to glean information.
- “My [1dad1kid] general opinion is they [travel advisories] aren’t worth much, especially the ones from the US which tend to be histrionic and a bit unreasonable. However, in our travels we’ve decided there are some things they just leave out of advisories. Things people really should know. There is no travel advisory that properly warns people of the hundreds of cute cats you’ll encounter in Morocco. In Marrakech, they were mostly older, loving cats, but in Essaouira we were constantly attacked by the cutest tiny kittens imaginable. We almost moved there and opened a cat shelter. Not fair State Department!” – What You Won’t Learn From a Travel Advisory
It’s always good to get both sides of the story and let common sense prevail, right?