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Traveling in Challenging Times

By Bob Kocher

January 8, 2020

 

Hi Everyone,

 
We have started getting some calls about the safety of travel abroad now that decisions by our government have escalated anger towards the US from many countries.  Most of the questions are about where to go or not to go and some are directed to me personally about where I would travel.
 
My opinion is based on a combination of State Department travel advisories plus years of experience.  Since the early 2000's when 9/11 started a trend of the world becoming a different place, the main rule has been to observe extra vigilance.  Sadly, this is true within the boundaries of our own borders because the fact is we have to worry about domestic violence equally as much as threats from foreign entities.  I have not hesitated to travel abroad or in the US since bringing 156 people back form Denali Wilderness right after 9/11 with the help of a suggestion by Barbara B., a friend in the group and frequent traveler. 
 
So the first statement is: "There is safety in numbers."  
  • Whether you are on a group trip with us or vacation with family and or friends, keep your eyes open.  
  • Look at the US Government site to see if there are any travel advisories.
  • Call your travel professional to see if they have any information.  We have led more than 150 groups worldwide and have professional and personal relationships worldwide.  One phone call or email to our contacts can give us real time information.  
  • Take trip cancellation insurance anytime you are unsure of health or safety issues.  Although more costly, CANCEL FOR ANY REASON policies are available.  From most cruise lines the cost for "cancel for any reason policies" is lower because they pay in a sliding percentage with future cruise coupons for non illness related cancellations.  They do pay in full for illness-related issues, including traveler or family members.
  • When tagging luggage, do not put home address on the tags.  Use a local post office address and a cell number.  In our tips for the trip memos, we encourage folks to minimize packing.  When you have your carry-on and personal item with you, you don't need ID tags.
  • Carry a whistle and a LED high power flashlight and pepper spray is an option too.
  • Use common sense.
  • Places I would not go on vacations beyond the obvious for the time being: Kenya, Turkey and most Arab countries.  Places I would go, Everywhere Else.  For example our Sober Safari this year is to South Africa, not Kenya.  
I do not feel that there is any more danger than in the past.  People who have a bad agenda are that way already.  We are powerless over people. places and things, ugh.  So I ask myself, am I going to put fear above faith?  And do I want someone I don't trust dictating my life.  The answer is NO!!!  
 
On another subject, one practical tip when a threat to us is announced, is to consider filling your gas tank when it reaches 3/4 of a tank.  There is currently a warning that gas prices are going to escalate significantly soon.  I carry extra cash to top off when the tank reaches 3/4 full.  Fifteen to Twenty-five dollars will do the trick and in most states you save money by not using a credit card.  Many studies suggest that we get better mileage with a full tank, savingadvice.com/articles/2015/06/26/1034872_gas-tank-full-or-empty.html  This is especially true in low temperature areas.
 
And as always, travel safe and TravelSober.