It seems like everyday we scroll through out Facebook feed or watch the news and hear another horror story about a travel related death or illness. It’s almost enough to make you want to stay at home and enjoy the local pool. ALMOST!
With the widespread reports of unexplained tourist deaths in the Dominican Republic and the individuals passing away after contracting flesh eating bacteria on several Florida beaches, it is easy to be spooked.
But consider this – you could literally be the victim of a crime or become ill or even die, in your own neighborhood, car, movie theatre, home, work and unfortunately, school. But that doesn’t stop most of us from leaving our homes. Instead, you take safety precautions. And that is exactly what you need to do when traveling.
You also need to look at all of the facts. I am in no way anti-media, in fact, before I had children, I was actually a reporter for several local newspapers. That being said, the media does have a responsibility to report on what is happening at popular destinations, but it does tend to have a fear factor effect.
In 2018, the Dominican Republic reported having more than 2.3 million visitors from the United States. Of those visitors, there were 1.4 “incidents” per 100,000 tourists, according to a Travel and Leisure June, 2019 article . Yes – it is tragic that 10 Americans have died this year and yes – it is completely understandable to be a little freaked out, but the percentage of incidents versus the number of tourists is relatively low.
So what measures can you take to reduce your risk of becoming a victim while traveling, whether it be Europe, the Caribbean or even a local beach town or amusement park?
1) Do your research. Even though I am a travel agent and I provide my clients so much information about their destinations and resorts and/or cruise ship, I always recommend that they do some research on their own just so they feel confident about their destination. The more confident you are as traveler, the better off you will be on so many levels!
2) Make sure someone at home has copy of your itinerary.
3) Stay in well-populated and well-lit areas and always be aware of your surroundings. If possible, do not travel alone.
4) Do not accept drinks from strangers and never leave your drink unattended. If using the mini-bar, examine the bottle for evidence of tampering.
5) Don’t Carry a lot of cash. The less cash you carry, the less you will lose if anything happens to your wallet.
6) Don’t share a cab. While it may be enticing to split the fare, it’s not worth the risk. Also, always find out the fare before accepting the ride.
7) Photocopy all important information, including your passport’s data pages, both sides of your credit cards, travel itinerary, other ID’s and contact information. Leave one copy of those pages with a friend or relative back in the States and another in your room safe. In the event of a theft, you can have the info faxed to the U.S. embassy to get an emergency replacement passport and will have the contact number of your credit card company so you can cancel your card and get a new one. Alternately, scan the documents and send electronic copies to your e-mail account, so you can access the information from any computer.
8) When visiting beaches, always wear water shoes. They protect your feet from rocks, broken shells, etc. Also, if you have any open wounds at all, do not go in the water.
9) Last, but certainly not least, protect yourself and your travel investment with Travel Insurance. If something does go wrong, travel insurance can help you with medical bills, lost luggage, delayed flights, weather related evacuations and so much more!
At the end of the day, you have to do what makes you feel comfortable. Personally, I have decided that the idea of seeing new places or returning to an old favorite is much more important to me than letting fear stand in the way!