Hijackings over the Atlantic, terrorism in Europe, bandit gangs in Mexico,
and guerrilla attacks on tourists in Uganda are enough to make any tourist
nervous. However, it's important to keep a sense of perspective. You're more
likely to have your car stolen in Minneapolis than you are to be mugged in
the back alleys of Venice. You have a better chance of being carjacked in Los
Angeles than being hijacked on a flight between New York and Paris.
Common sense is the best defense wherever you travel. Would you
walk through unfamiliar neighborhoods at night in your own city with a
Gucci handbag or a brand-new camcorder dangling loosely from your
shoulder? If your answer is no, don't do it in Chicago or Naples, either.
Still, there are places in the world where tourists risk greater dangers
than they do in the typical American city. Two good sources of advice on
travel dangers are:
Fielding Travel's lively, well-written guide to The Most Dangerous
Places tells how to avoid trouble in nasty or potentially scary spots
around the world. It also provides some interesting statistics: for
example, 42 percent of Europeans consider Florida dangerous, but
only 7 percent are nervous about traveling in Turkey or Kenya.
U.S. State Department Travel Warnings and Consular
The State Department issues travel warnings for countries in which
there's an immediate danger to tourists. If you don't see a travel
warning for a country you plan to visit, check the consular
information sheets and scroll down to "Crime Information" for
information on local crooks and scams. You may also want to read
A Safe Trip Abroad at http://travel.state.gov/asafetripabroad.html
although some of its recommended precautions are more suited to
ambassadors and CIA agents than ordinary tourists. (Sample
advice: "As much as possible, plan to stay in larger hotels that have
more elaborate security.")
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