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istanbul mosque birdsLast week I returned from a trip to Europe that involved visits to a couple of places in Italy as well as a stop in Turkey. “I’m worried about you going to Turkey,” my mom nervously told me over the phone before my plane took off. Because it’s near the Middle East, she had lumped it in with some of the less stable locations in that region and was concerned it was unsafe — even before the recent attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya.

Sadly, I’ve spoken with several others — granted, not frequent travelers — who expressed the same sense of alarm when I mentioned where I was going, and I’ve received more than one reader e-mail asking whether it’s wise to embark on cruise ship shore excursions in certain locations, such as Greece and South Africa, that I wouldn’t necessarily consider to be at risk.

Travel Warnings and Advisories

As a Turkey newbie, I had no preconceived ideas, but I was pleasantly surprised by how modern it is and how friendly and welcoming its residents proved to be. I felt no less safe than when I’ve traveled to other European countries — Italy, Poland, the Netherlands, etc. Even our tour guide told us the country gets a bad rap, despite the absence of U.S. State Department travel warnings there.

While I take basic precautions and trust my instincts when I travel, I try to avoid allowing fear to keep me from visiting the places on my bucket list.

Have you visited someplace about which others were wrongly concerned? Have you traveled to a supposedly questionable area and found the danger to be blown out of proportion? Leave your comments below.

— written by Ashley Kosciolek

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4 Responses to “Caution: Destinations May Be Safer Than They Appear”

  1. David says:

    Iran was a great country for me to see incredibly beautiful and very safe. Not once did I feel in danger at all. The people were fantastic, well educated and willing to help tourists. I highly recommend everyone puts away their misconceptions about this country and go visit!

  2. Ludmila Shepina says:

    I have been living in Egypt for four years now, three of them in the Siwa Oasis.
    So many times people have asked whether it’s dangerous to go there as it’s so close to the Lybian border…
    First of all, yes Siwa is formally colse to Lybia, but it’s hundreds of kilometers of just sand and nothingness to the nearest troubled Lybian border, so wars and any unrest simply do not come in this direction.

    Second, the oasis has been very isolated for thousands of years, so Siwans have worked out a very efficient system to maintain order in the oasis without any governmental help. Even during the Egyptian revolution, there was no unrest in Siwa whatsoever, they sheikhs (local heads of tribes) just maintained controll over the oasis and the roads making sure things do not get out of hand.

    Third, Siwans are so used to having a life of their own, that a hard rainfall or an early olive harvest is a much bigger of a concern to them than the politics.

    As for Egypt after the revolution in general, unless you are planning to spend your holiday hanging out in the middle of Tahrir suqare or taking part in protests you are perfectly safe and the locals are super friendly and hospitable. The further you get away from the main touristy places, the better it gets.

    And no, Siwans have not noticed the movie and do not care about the nationality of tourists (just in case you thought Americans were getting some special attention here).

  3. Dan says:

    Biggest danger in Iran is likely to be an American drone strike.

  4. I try and never let fear get between me and my travel destinations. I would rather something happen to me whilst I am living my dreams instead of whilst shopping at my local grocery store or something similarily mundane!
    As long as you take all the necessary precautions and do your research, then you should be okay.
    I have traveled for over 20 years as a solo female through South American and Asia with no problems. Touch wood! After your article I hope to also visit Istanbal, seems like a really fascinating place!!

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