Travel risks are something we all face when planning our next big adventure, but how often do they stop us in our tracks? From the smaller scale car accidents and health problems, to the much bigger threats of natural disasters and even terrorism – there's a lot to take into consideration. But do we let these fears stand in the way of our travel plans – or is it all just a lot of hype? I get so many questions about travel safety and fears over the stories that end up in the media, and I thought it was time to talk about facing travel risks and overcoming fears. After all, I want this blog to always face the real issues of traveling head on, while still inspiring you all to take that first step. So today, I want to do that by answering the biggest question of all – should you let fear and safety concerns stand in the way of your future travel plans?
Travel risks in the headlines
There's no denying that the media plays a huge part in perpetuating our fears and concerns by portraying incidents in a certain light. But how much are we to take as a serious warning, and how much should this information affect our travel planning? Last year Mexico was ravaged by two earthquakes just weeks apart causing huge damage and the loss of over 360 lives. In the summer, Greece suffered horrific wildfires which killed over 70 people and resulted in the complete destruction of a tourist resort. While holidaying in Majorca, a British couple lost their lives as torrential rain caused flash flooding which engulfed the town of Sant Lorenç. Now it seems even the "safe zone" of Europe is now heavily affected by climate change and extreme weather conditions. But should this stop us from exploring these regions?
If anything, the British "Keep Calm and Carry On" attitude seems to be reigning high and our appetite for holidays is increasing more than ever. ABTA’s Holiday Trends Report 2018 revealed that 60% of people went abroad last year, the highest number since 2011. And while 63% of people said they wouldn't holiday where a terrorist attack had taken place (Survey by Silver Travel Advisor), last year saw hugely increased numbers of travelers to countries including Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia despite previous attacks. When it comes to natural disasters, so much of the time it is countries that rely the most heavily on tourism which are affected. Think back to the multiple tsumani that have struck Indonesia throughout the last decade, and despite this the number of Britons traveling to the country has doubled since 2010. So should we even question withdrawing our tourism from the countries who need it most? Or should we continue to travel and support these communities as best we can?
Let's hear from real travelers
How can we be prepared when we travel?
We live in an age where reports of disaster and terrorist attack are no longer the occasional news, now one event captures the headlines only to be quickly replaced by more recent breaking news. There will always be a lull in tourism following an event, but it seems the desire to travel will always overwhelm any fears we may have. As has been pointed out, many travel insurance policies will be rendered void if your travel goes against government advice. The important thing is to minimise risks, by ensuring you have comprehensive cover in place to provide peace of mind in a world full of surprises.
Some travel insurance lenders have anticipated this thirst for travel and are adapting their policies to offer a wife range of covers to to enable travelers to protect themselves against extreme situations and disasters.
Insure4Retirement, a specialist Over 50s Home and Travel insurance provider, in partnership with Just Travel Cover, offer a Crisis Response Service with their Ready2Go Gold travel policy. A key benefit of this cover is a dedicated phone number which gives travelers access to immediate assistance and an unrivaled set of skills if disaster strikes while they are abroad. The service is provided by S-RM who has a team of crisis response consultants made up of former military, law enforcement and intelligence agency personnel, strategically positioned around the world to provide assistance during a crisis. If you're planning a trip to a more unpredictable location, these are the guys you want on your team!
Why I won't let travel risks stand in my way
Throughout my years of solo female travel, I've experienced travel risks of all kinds, from bus crashes to explosions and brutal attacks. And yet, despite this, I have felt safer in countries around the world than I have done at times in the UK. You name it – I've probably been warned about it by someone who saw reports in the news. But after working as a journalist for years, I've realised that everything news report from the perspective of the reporter and that these stories are so often blown out of proportion. So should we let news reports strike fear into our hearts and put us off travel?
I have spoken to so many people who have traveled to countries such as Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Egypt and Tunisia in recent years and all have spoken of the beauty of these countries. Despite media reports warning otherwise, they haven't seen any violence or felt threatened in at all. I think it is important to be smart and safe at all times when we travel, but we are also capable of assessing travel risks and deciding whether we feel confident to make a trip. But we should be basing our decisions on real accounts by real travelers who have visited recently instead of sensationalised media reports. We also have to take into account, how vital our tourism is at these darkest times to support the communities who will lose their livelihoods due to the lack of visitors.
A huge thank you to all the wonderful souls who joined in the discussion on Twitter – it was fantastic to see so many different viewpoints on the topic! If you've been affected by these issues, or would like to share your views – please do leave a comment below.