Tailoring Travel Safety Research to Your Unique Needs

Before deciding to visit a new country or city, I always start with a background check on safety. My first stop is the United States Department of State website, where they provide their perspective on the safety of various destinations. However, it’s important to remember that this is just one viewpoint.

Safety opinions vary widely across the internet, but the State Department’s website is a solid starting point because it highlights concerns specific to U.S. citizens. The site offers useful information and an overview of considerations, which may sometimes challenge your preconceptions.

For instance, did you know the State Department ranks Turkey as safer than France? This might surprise many, but they provide their reasoning. Still, it’s crucial to remember that this is just one opinion. Numerous countries around the world have issued travel warnings about the U.S., too.

So, who should you trust?

The simple answer is to trust yourself. Your personal experience with travel, whether you have relatives in the country, your language skills, and your comfort level with new places and cultures can all make a significant difference.

Consider the example of Kosovo.

While the U.S. State Department advises against travel to Kosovo due to safety concerns, many online travel sites deem it safe. I will be visiting Skopje, North Macedonia, and Tirana, Albania, both of which offer tours to Kosovo.

Once again, who do you trust?

Trust yourself. If you feel it’s safe, then go. Growing up just five blocks from the Chicago city limits, I learned early on to stay aware of my surroundings. Over time, I became comfortable traveling and living all over Chicago. This experience has made me confident in traveling alone and visiting large, bustling cities like Istanbul.

However, I understand that everyone’s experiences and backgrounds are different. You might have specific concerns related to your beliefs, sexual orientation, or gender. Therefore, it’s essential to research what worries you. Many websites rank and discuss safety issues in cities and countries worldwide. And my fellow Americans, you might be surprised to find Chicago ranks safer than Denver.

Until next time, enjoy your travels.

Joe O’Brien

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