Published on October 17th, 2012 | by Paz0
Determining the danger factor before traveling
In the midst of all the drug fighting in Mexico we are traveling there. Why? Everyone is asking if we know about the danger of traveling to Mexico. Before you send me news articles and warn me about how irresponsible we are…find out why we believe it is safe to travel and how you can read between the media hype and real life.
If you want to travel somewhere but are worried about what might be across that border there are a few things that you can do to find out the facts, not hype and assist you in making your traveling decisions.
Check the Current Travel Warnings
Don’t read articles on deaths or kidnappings. Go to this website and see if there is a warning. If you see a warning for your travel destination don’t let that be your deterrence let that tell you that you have to do more research. Also think about your own city….our home town of Milwaukee has murders, rapes, and muggings on the morning news way too often. However no one would ever tell you not to visit Milwaukee (unless you lived outside the U.S.) as most people outside the U.S. view the U.S. as a dangerous place to visit. Think about it….when you compare murders, rapes and deaths on a global level the U.S. rates very poorly. Next step…
Determine your destination
Countries can be quite large and cities quite different. Determine where you are going and what you are going to be doing. This not only will help you clearly identify any risk but it will also help you reach out to others in those areas.
Dirty river in China….
Reach out to Expats who have been in that area within the last 2 years
We always find that those who don’t travel or who haven’t lived abroad always are the ones that try to scare you the most about where you would like to go. hmmmm Do your research with credible resources. There are many wonderful blogs out there on the country that you would like to travel to with authors who enjoy hearing from inquiring minds. You can look at communities like Expat Blogs or Expat Arrivals where you can find information from people from all walks of life that are living, and working in the area that you are looking to travel to. Send them a quick e-mail with what you are looking to do and if they would do it in your situation. Don’t beat around the bush ask what you want to ask. “Will I get shot or kidnapped going to X location.” Or whatever you concern is. We did this when moving to Penang, and Thailand. It not only gave us a heads up on what we needed to know before traveling, but when we arrived we already knew where to go and where not to go to maximize our time there. No sense in reinventing the wheel.
Take the information that you are given and make your own decision. If what the person says makes you feel uneasy then just say that area or activity isn’t for you. Don’t feel bad for it, everyone is different and every persons level of being okay is different. Don’t ever apologize for that.
With the information that we gathered from other people’s real life advice and their blog posts we were able to get settled in Malaysia and Thailand within 2-3 days of arriving. We never would have been able to do that or feel so comfortable doing it without their help. So, send an e-mail ask your questions and tell them a little bit about your situation, single, kids, retired, adventurous, quiet, or whatever you are looking for and they can give you the real deal info without being deterred by newspaper headlines.
Familiar with local customs & safety
If you are looking to travel internationally and also expect everyone to speak English, eat cereal for breakfast and believe that the NFL is football then maybe you should stick to Miami Beach or New York City.
Get your expectations right and learn about local customs and safety issues in the area you are traveling to before you go.
Example: Being a teacher and having kids of our own we love our kids interacting with local children in public parks and we lead by example and spark up conversations with local people. When traveling to Thailand we found out that touching a child’s head was BAD. We touch our children’s heads all the time and in China I was always touching kids heads in school. I didn’t even think about it until I realized we couldn’t do it in Thailand. While in Thailand we made sure to not touch children’s heads.
Example: In China everything can be fake…yup everything. Even bottled, sealed beer, water, milk, baby formula, basically you name it and you could be buying a recapped bottle of piss water. So you have to know this before going so you can take the proper precautions. We only bought the more expensive stuff…normally not counter-fitted and bought from more reputable shops or ones that we eventually became familiar with. One time in the park I purchased a drink from a cart guy and the first sip didn’t taste right. I immediately threw it in the garbage. Who knows what was in there, but it wasn’t the drink I thought it was. Again these are things you have to be okay with dealing with and watch out for. Every country has them, even the U.S., it is your job as the traveler to do your research.
Have fun and embrace your experience
No matter where you go if it is your local park or state fair or Antarctica embrace what you are doing with a smile. Don’t be crippled by fear or overwhelmed with doubt of the world. Have fun and enjoy your experience. Be thankful for any opportunity and gracious to those around you. Most importantly have a great time! Like my mom says the #1 rule is to have FUN.
What is your favorite travel destination? We would love to find out so we can go there too!!