Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Concerned about your safety while traveling abroad?

Being the victim of a crime while traveling abroad would undoubtedly put a damper on anyone’s vacation. The U.S. State Department occasionally puts out warnings making us aware of the dangers of traveling to certain areas of the world because of the threat of violence against U.S. citizens. Most of the time it seems that those warnings are valid when you take into consideration that some of the areas we are warned about experience a high level of terrorist activity.

But I am not talking about those very few in number violent hotspots in this article. I want to address the constant warnings or news stories that keep making headlines for such places as Mexico, Aruba, and now even the Bahamas. Our media is quick to pick up on a story of a U.S. citizen being attacked while on vacation in some of these popular tourist destinations. In regards to Mexico, most stories are not even about Americans being attacked as much as they are about drug related violence in the towns along the U.S./Mexico border. Sensationalism is a major issue when it comes to our media reporting such events. There is a teaching in the Bible that says a man should not try to get the stick out of another person’s eye while he has a large beam in his own eye. That seems to be true about American Journalism. Our media seems to be one that likes to point out the trouble in other areas of our world while ignoring the major trouble right in our own backyard.

This sort of problem bothers me because of the fact that so many listen to such reports about a crime in “XYZ” Country and then decide to no longer vacation in that area of the world. An entire Country’s economy can be devastated by what our media reports when it shines such a negative light.

Now I am not saying that we should not be aware the potential for crime in various tourist areas, but I am saying that we need to sift through the hype and realize what the facts truly are before rushing to judgment or decision.

So let’s get down to the facts about crime for a moment. First…do you know where the U.S. ranks in the world when it comes to assaults? Out of every nation in the world, the U.S. ranks 6th! That is right…6th. Do you know where Mexico ranks? 20th! They rank lower than Great Britain, Canada, Australia and even Jamaica. When was the last time that you saw someone in our media write a story about the dangers of traveling to Australia or Great Britain? Wonder how many foreign media outlets are writing stories warning travelers of the dangers of traveling to the U.S.?? There have been stories recently about assaults against tourists in Nassau in the Bahamas. Cruise lines even started warning their passengers about getting off the ship while in port in Nassau. Do you know where the Bahamas rank in overall assaults? They are not even on the list. Guess where the U.S. ranks in total crime? If you guessed 1st, you are correct. That is right, more crime happens right here in the good old U.S. of A than any other nation in the world. Even if you break the statistic down to a per capita basis, the U.S. still ranks 8th. Mexico again comes in 39th well below the U.S. But we like to ignore those stats and jump on other countries when one of our own becomes a victim of crime inside their borders and put out travel warnings that may take a huge toll on those who live modest lives and who rely on tourists coming to visit their small part of the world.

So what is the moral of this story…be a smart traveler. Be vigilant no matter where you are. Don’t cut down side streets if you are not familiar with an area. Stay in populated areas or choose to go on guided tours. Keep your belongings close to your side and locked up. Appear that you are sure of yourself and where you are headed, or in other words, don’t look like a “tourist.”

And don’t be quick to take the media’s version of a story or report and keep things in perspective. You are in as much danger living and visiting areas of our own Country as you are traveling abroad. So get out there and don’t let fear rule your decisions and experience life through travel.

If you would like to see the statistics for yourself…you can click here.

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