The Oversimplifications Of Safety When Traveling

It’s not just black and white.



When traveling somewhere new, this word is brought up numerous times and often for good reason. It’s a justified concern to have when traveling to unknown territories. Even though some safety concerns can come from biased sources like the ones who paint the entire Middle East as a playground for terrorists or paint all of Africa as starving children with AIDS, we all can agree that nobody wants to have a holiday from hell. As a result, some people may consider certain preventative measures to ensure they are safe down to the little things such as being mindful where to eat and drink, photocopying important documents, registering with embassies of their home countries, getting the necessary shots to avoid preventable illnesses, and not wearing anything that would bring extra attention.

In the age of influencers, one can find many travel bloggers who share their two cents about the destinations they have visited. Some are able to build a large enough following where the fans take everything they say as face value, which isn’t always be a good thing, especially when it comes to safety.

In a way, travel blogging can be a form a propaganda or called the trendy words: #fakenews or #alternativefacts. At the end of the day, travel bloggers are simply sharing their opinions of a country which can be heavily skewed.

When you watch the news, the world seems like a super scary place. Mass shootings, bombings, ISIS, drug wars, diseases plaguing communities, slavery, trafficking, and everything that sounds like your worst nightmare. Because of this, many people who consume media from these type of sources have skewed perceptions of these nations despite never stepping foot there or talking to anyone from there. They paint the entire nation as dangerous.

On the other hand, you have travel influencers who may have visited some of these nations, albeit the touristy areas, and they’re singing a completely different song than mainstream media. As a result, they paint the entire country as safe and guarantee that other travelers will also have the same experience.

Where Both Sides Are Both Wrong

What mainstream media and travel bloggers get wrong is that they both [insanely] oversimplify what nations are safe (or dangerous). It’s really not black and white. There are tons of grey areas that lie in the middle. No matter which way you say it, it’s propoaganda because both sides aren’t telling you the complete truth.

Travel Advisories

Many western travel bloggers (especially my fellow American travel bloggers) have gone on record for recommending travelers to ignore travel advisories from the state department of their respective countries and calling all of it lies. Do western countries have a track record for being biased towards non-western and/or developed nations? Absolutely. But is what they’re saying 100% wrong? That’s up to interpretation, but my vote is no.

Travel advisories are simply warnings, nothing more, nothing less. It’s just like signs that say “Caution: HOT” or “Watch your step.” It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t travel to those places just like it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy hot beverages or board trains with gaps between the platforms. They are just telling you to be alert. They do this for a reason. If something were to happen, you can’t say that you haven’t been warned and find a reason to get a payday. Every country has its safe and dangerous pockets. If people cannot understand that, then that’s a personal problem, and it’s up to them to fix it.

X Country Is Safe? To Whom?

People tend to oversimplify safety of a country. Safety is relative. It doesn’t always apply to everyone. The safety advice from travel influencers should be stated with a huge asterisk. In the case of travelers, when they talk about safety in x country, it’s often coming from a place of privilege that they fail to admit. Tourists are generally unaffected by the everyday issues of a country, especially if they’re of a certain nationality, race, religion, and/or gender. Majority of their trips are spent in cities that cater to foreign visitors that may shield them from the realities of a country. The fact that they’re only spending a few days, weeks or months in a country, already shows their qualifications on speaking for behalf of the country, especially when you consider that citizens of a country can be oblivious to what’s going on within their own borders.

It’s is really irresponsible to guarantee any promises that someone will be safe when they visit x destination because you really don’t know what can pop off in that exact time. You really don’t know what could happen when someone of a different demographic than you visits the same place as you. In a way, you can say travel blogging is also filled with skewed information just like mainstream media. The only difference is that they haven’t been called out on it that much.

Do Better

In the age of highlight reels and selling curated fantasies, we have seem to fallen off a bit when it comes to giving realistic advice and guarantees. Not just with travel, but in various niches across the “influencer” sphere.

All I have to say is…..Do better.