Travel caution urged but experiences await, what to do?

Troubling events around the world can often bring official alerts and warnings against travel to protect us from harm. Savvy travelers know to pay attention to those words of caution, but not let them define their adventures. Connecting with experienced travelers can bring a fuzzy picture of what is actually happening on the ground into focus. A clear picture of the real situation from a trusted source can give the green light to plans that might otherwise have been put on hold.

Egypt has been in the news a lot lately with graphic images of demonstrators clashing with the Egyptian military in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. This week the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued a travel warning to avoid public places in Egypt.

Abercrombie and Kent
(A&K) is an experienced travel company that has visited the world’s greatest destinations since 1962. They are well-known in the Middle East, including Egypt. When Egypt’s revolution caused travelers already there to scramble for a way out, A&K was prepared.

“A&K has six offices in Egypt so the company’s on-ground presence and expert destination knowledge really sets them apart from other operators” a spokesperson told Gadling, adding “When the crisis broke out, A&K was able to safely get all clients out of Egypt via charter planes. Other companies had to go through the Embassy’s so A&K was better able to do this task.”

That is just what we would want to have happen and surely a point in favor of aligning travel plans with an experienced source. Better yet, hearing details from sources that make a living on the ground in trouble-prone places can give more detailed, accurate information to fuel our travel decisions.

We asked a number of sources the big question: “Is it safe to travel in Egypt now?” Abercrombie and Kent think it is and provide us with reasons for their qualified opinion.

“The situation has improved dramatically in recent weeks. The U.S. State Department has softened its Travel Warning and both the French and the British have updated their cautions. Airports and financial institutions are functioning normally and popular tourist sites are open – and remarkably free of visitors. Beyond that, Egyptians are relishing their new-found freedom and a sense of optimism is palpable wherever you go; there is a sense of promise and exhilaration in the air that may never come again. Egyptians are finally exercising their right to political organization, demonstrations, and free speech just as people do all over the world. The vast majority of this has been very positive and has not disrupted daily life in any way. Throughout, neither tourists nor tourist facilities have ever been targeted in any way. With a stable political situation, crowd-free sites and a newly energized people, this is the moment to experience Egypt.”

Right about here I should probably admit that Egypt is my “…and then I can die” place to visit some day. I have been studying Egypt since an 8th grade Social Studies teacher required the class to copy intricate diagrams of Egyptian structures as a learning tool. Fascinated with the culture and architecture, it would be really easy for me to throw all caution to the wind and go there regardless of the situation on the ground. Luckily, sources like A&K are not blinded by life-long dreams and have a clear view of what is being done to protect visitors.

“Comprehensive security measures are in place at hotels and tourist sites, including bag screenings, metal detectors, and the visible presence of Tourist Police. Vehicles are not permitted to enter any hotel or tourist site without being thoroughly checked at the gate by security personnel and dogs trained to detect explosives. Each key tourist zone has its own security team comprised of tourist, district and state police. Regular patrols take place in the immediate vicinity of the sites and deep into the desert in the open places. We work with local authorities, tourist police, security officials, and our own team on the ground who are well aware of security and take the utmost precaution in all cases to protect our guests and to ensure that they have a flawless experience here. All these factors that play into our operations decisions-decisions that we take keeping in mind that guest comfort and safety is our top priority.”

In a world where political unrest, rising crime and natural disasters seem almost commonplace, waiting for everything to be happy, safe and secure might take a long time. Aligning ourselves with trusted sources like Abercrombie and Kent can make a huge difference.

Take Gadling TV’s TravelTalk for example. After the recently-posted final episode of the Webby-nominated 12-part series on Thailand, I’m pretty sure our Stephen Greenwood would make a fabulous tour guide. Following his adventures in Thailand, I have him as a trusted source for Thailand information. He may not know the gross national product of Thailand (or maybe he does, I have no clue) but it is apparent that he knows the lay of the land and how to make some truly amazing travel experiences.

There is a lot to be said about experience when it comes to traveling, whether that of an individual or a travel company. If we have been some place a number of times, that previous experience can add a valuable filter to what we see in video and in print when events occur around the globe.

Safety in travel is important.

Caution in troubled places is too.
Equally important is for us to attain our travel goals.

Aligning ourselves with trusted sources can make that happen.

Find out how other travel sources responded to “Is it safe to travel?” as we continue to explore what to do when travel caution is urged but experiences await.