When it comes to traveling, safety is on top of our priority list. And in today's world, we're constantly seeing crazy headlines come up on our TVs and newsfeeds as topics like terrorism, political unrest, & natural disasters continue to waltz their way across our screens. And with this much stress in our everyday lives, this is the time when we probably need a vacation the most.
That being said, it's a daunting task to decide if our preferred destination is "safe" enough to visit—especially if the intended destination has a long list of travel advisories or certain stigmas attached. How seriously should we take these so-called "danger zones," and are they really as bad their made out to be? Should we all tear up our tickets, hopes, and vacation dreams—or just say "F**k it, YOLO?"
If these are the questions running through your head, than fear not pirates! We're here to set your mind at ease. Check out this list of five destinations that many Americans consider "dangerous." And while this list should not be taken lightly, it would be a shame to write off on any of these incredible destinations without understanding the situation beforehand.
Myth: Cartels target tourists in Cancún.
Of course, this destination would be number one, right? Dubbed as the infamous cartel capital, Cancún has stirred up a lot of controversy and anguish for potential visitors over the recent months. However, its pristine white sands and crystal blue waters continue to attract throngs of beachgoers year round— and well, why shouldn't it?
While there's no denying that crime and violence are still serious problems in Mexico, the chances of a tourist falling victim to murder are very slim, as most killings that occur are gang-related. The U.S. State Department ranks the Mexican state Quintana Roo, where Cancun is located, as "Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution."
Obviously, you should always be vigilant wherever you travel! Always keep your wits about you and stay away from the usual telltale signs of danger. As long as you don't stray too far from tourist hot spots and the resort zone, there should not be anything stopping you from enjoying your Cancun vacation!
Myth: Egypt is filled with terrorists.
Egypt is part of many travelers' bucket lists for a reason! With its endless stretch of golden desert, pyramids, and deep cobalt blue seas, this fascinating country brims with both color and culture. And while it is popularly considered an unsafe place to travel right now, you still shouldn't be discouraged from visiting this gem of a country.
Again, precautions should still be maintained regardless of the destination, and while the news and the media may have the majority of us believing that ISIS will hunt you down the moment you set foot in the country, the fact of the matter is that these terrorist groups are only active in certain regions. The U.S. Department of State tells users to stay off the Sinai Peninsula, but most of tourist spots are hours away from there.
The level of safety in most parts of Egypt is the same as in any given big cities in the United States. As long as you stay around the main tourist areas, like Cairo, Giza, and Luxor, you will not be in any danger. For security purposes, there is a strong police presence at most major tourist sites to safeguard precious museums and temples, but if anything, this should make you feel safer!
Myth: Drug cartels run Colombia.
Amidst its Caribbean beaches, Amazon rainforest, Andes Mountain ranges, and desert plains, another beautiful country tarnished by a history of drug cartels and narcotics trade is none other than Colombia. However, things have started looking up after the days of Pablo Escobar and the rule of the cartels. This country has restored much of its safety measures thanks to successful peace negotiations.
This news has already prompted a steady stream of tourism back into the country. And as long as you don't stray too far out into the unknown areas of the country, you are guaranteed to be more than just "fine." The U.S. Department of State lists areas that are not safe for American travelers, but it doesn't include the tourist hot spots of Bogotá, Medellin, and Cartagena.
Definitely don't miss out on exploring this country! It has a lot to offer, and is full of unique experiences.
Myth: Deadly snakes and spiders are everywhere in Australia.
When it comes to animals and nature, most people are usually more than happy to be around it—unless you're in the Land Down Under. Australia is known for its abundance of dangerous animals and crazy wildlife, and even if you are a huge nature guy, some encounters may seem a little too wild! While nightmares of deadly snakes, shark attacks, and huge huntsman spiders may have you rethinking this destination, Australia is overall an extremely safe place to visit.
The media loves to share stories on gruesome animal attacks and freak accidents with nature, since well... sensationalism sells. However, the likelihood of you seeing any dangerous animals on your trip—let alone being attacked by one—is still highly unlikely.
Of course, your common sense in all of us while traveling. If you do come across warning signs upon your travels, heed them! That means don't get close to crocodiles and avoid trying to feed the kangaroos.
Myth: Hawaii is covered in lava.
Hawaii is another popular travel destination for mainland Americans year round, and it's easy to see why! Its islands are renowned for beautiful beaches, rugged landscapes, and (mostly) dormant volcanos. Unfortunately, it's news stories about these volcanos that stop most travelers in their tracks when deciding whether or not they should visit the idyllic 50th state.
Of course, there's little we can do to prevent natural disasters, but it is a good idea to wisen up a little on what areas exactly these volcanic eruptions actually affect. Two of the most active volcanos are located on the main island of Hawaii, also known as the "Big Island," with the most recent eruption this year being the volcano Kilauea.
Along with the lava flow comes a flood of news articles scaring off tourism even more, but if you take a step back to understand the geography a little better, there's really no need for concern at all. The Kilauea eruption occurred in a rural, 10 square mile area in the southeastern corner of the most southeastern island of the state's eight main islands.
So if you're on a beach in Honolulu, you would be more than 200 miles away from the eruption! Canceling trips to various parts of Hawaii just because of a volcano would be like canceling trips to New York just because there's a blizzard in Boston. The more you know!