In this post, we share a baker’s dozen of the most common of the international travel safety don’ts we’ve received along with pertinent actual experience.
Over the past two years, we’ve been on the receiving end of quite a few international travel safety don’ts and admonitions. Many of these have come from well-meaning people who haven’t got a current passport (and may never have had one at all), and others from people who do but should know better. Obviously, your mileage may vary.
1. Don’t go to Hungary, there are too many gypsies who want to rob you. (Budapest became one of our favorite European cities. We weren’t robbed. It must have been a miracle.)
2. Don’t go to Romania, there is too much crime. (We did see an empty purse discarded on a snowbank in Bucharest, much like one I saw in Minneapolis years ago. We also had a very memorable experience on an overnight train through Romania, and miraculously accounted for all our belongings at its conclusion.)
3. Don’t go to Russia for the Olympics. There will be a terrorist attack. (Obviously, there was not and the security made us feel confident and safe. All the toilets we used and doorknobs we turned worked perfectly, too.)
4. Don’t go to Fiji. The government is a military regime. (Yes, yes it was. Now it’s somewhat not. It’s still beautiful and the people are lovely.)
5. Don’t go to Bosnia and Herzegovina. It’s not safe (no specific reason) or there are land mines everywhere. (Yes, land mines are still around in the forests and other remote areas. We spent time in two cities, and kept on the road in the mountains. Therefore, we learned other things, including the war there has been over for 20 years and people are looking to the future. Imagine if everyone had been told not to visit Germany in the 60s? We’d have never had the Beatles, who got their start in Hamburg, maybe?)
6. Don’t go to Bangkok. Someone set a bomb off there some time ago. (Yes, they did. The odds are good it won’t happen again. We’ve been in and out of Bangkok half a dozen times since October, and are going again tomorrow.)
7. Don’t go to Laos/Vietnam. Vague and unintelligibly inarticulate reasons, mostly along the lines of “It’s a Communist country.” (We gave up trying to answer and visited. There’s a lot of capitalism going on. Vietnam has the region’s fastest growing economy. Laos, not so much. You might argue they could really use our tourist dollars and you’d be right. They’d rather have dollars than their country’s own currency, imagine that.)
8. Don’t fly Air Malaysia, your plane will crash. (Again, please study statistical probabilities. We’ve flown AM several times in the last year and emerged completely unscathed at our destinations on time!)
9. Don’t even go to Malaysia. It isn’t safe. You might be kidnapped. It’s one of those Muslim countries. (Nope, been to Malaysia twice, no kidnapping. Yep, Malaysia is 60% Muslim, and while Islam is the state religion, the Malaysian constitution also guarantees freedom of religion. There are Buddhists, Christians, Hindus and Muslims living peacefully together in Malaysia.)
10. Don’t go to China. It’s polluted and they hate us. (Yes, certain cities are polluted. We will be in Ningbo for six weeks, a somewhat smaller city outside Shanghai. We doubt the Chinese people hate us. Our governments may not always get along, but business investment is plentiful. We will definitely report what we see and learn.)
11. Don’t go to Paris (before the latest attacks). The French are dishonest, rude and hate Americans. (We suppose that’s how Pete got his lost wallet back with everything in it?)
12. Don’t go to Paris (after the latest attacks). We wouldn’t dream of not going to or through Paris in the future. This is like saying don’t go to New York, London, or even Oklahoma City.
What’s the point of this post? The point is if we had listened to the well-meaning, but ill-founded advice from armchair personal safety experts we would never have had what we count to be some of the richest experiences of our lives.
We do have one don’t for you: