Travel caution urged but experiences await, who to turn to?

There is a lot to be said about experience when it comes to traveling. 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 print reports when events occur around the globe. Government-issued travel alerts and warnings are surely important to consider. Catastrophic weather events, political unrest and the like are too. But while experts urge caution they also explain the actual situation on the ground may not be cause to cancel plans then travel elsewhere.

In Travel caution urged but experiences await, what to do? we talked with premiere land tour operator Abercrombie and Kent, asking the question “Is it safe to travel to Egypt?” who told us:

“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…”

Today we take a closer look at areas where headline-grabbing events have led many to reconsider travel plans, some life-long dreams, that may indeed be safe for travel.

Asking again “Is it safe to travel to Egypt?”, we talk to Dwain Wall, Senior Vice President & General Manager of CruiseOne & Cruises Inc. Unlike big-ship cruises, river cruises sail on smaller ships to get up close and personal with countries almost everywhere. Throughout the Middle East and Europe from Egypt to France to Vietnam, river cruising is gaining in popularity. But some worry that same up-close-and-personal exposure many find attractive, puts them in harms way.

“Travelers no matter the destination must be fully aware of any issues in their destination prior to travel “says Wall, adding “This awareness allows for them to properly prepare and assure their safety.”

Beyond our personal knowledge, preparation for travel such as checking to see entry requirements for various countries or enrolling in the US Department of State’s registered traveler (STEP) program, we trust tour operators to keep us safe. If a situation should develop while we travel, being with someone or some company experienced in how things work in a given country under normal circumstances can help.

“The continent of Europe encompasses many countries with vast cultural differences. The most apparent is the many languages that are spoken that can itself make for difficulties which can be exasperated in an emergency or by security issues.”

Beyond traveling with a destination expert and adequate preparation on our part as travelers, backing our plans with some sort of travel protection is also advised.

“The best way to assure that travelers are protected is for them to purchase travel insurance with a reputable travel insurance company. These companies have an amazing array of services including cancel for any reason, and once on the trip should a traveler experience an issue, their emergency response teams have foreign language speakers at their disposal in addition to great resources both at their HQ and on the ground in many foreign countries that they can rely upon.”

Still, caution is urged. Even the best travel insurance can not prevent a tsunami from occurring or political unrest to take center stage in any number of countries. Often, travel insurance does not cover natural disasters or other Acts of God so knowing what is and is not covered is important. Beyond insurance and probably more importantly, a trust should be established with a travel service provider, one we can count on.

“Obviously, traveling to countries experiencing civil turmoil such as Egypt, Jordan, and other North Africa/Middle Eastern Countries should be carefully considered prior to purchase. The tour and cruise operators are informed and knowledgeable of the situation on the ground and have proven to be responsible in openly and honestly sharing the risk with consumers and offering options to the travelers if they are uncomfortable in continuing with their travel plans after booking.

That said, the travel community, those who make a living on travel or travel-related products, is starting to speak up about travel in general and if it is safe or not.

“At the same time, it is very important that U.S. travel leaders take the lead in supporting the return of Americans to these important destinations. The industry must support these destinations as tourism is often the number one economic driver and thus, the more jobs created by tourism, the better the security situation will be. It’s a global economy and these situations impact all of us both in the travel industry and outside of the industry.”