Tips for traveling to unstable countries

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Wed 29 May 2013

Though unstable politically, religiously or economically, many countries still hold an allure for travelers.

Extensive traveler and vice president and general manager of, Warren Chang, has compiled tips for those traveling in turmoil. Chang has traveled to an array of off-the-beaten track places, including North Korea, Cuba, Jordan, Guatemala, and Antarctica.

  • Before traveling, visit the U.S. Statement website to read their travel alerts and warnings. The primary difference between a travel alert and a warning is that alerts are issued when short-term events, such the aftermath of a volcanic eruption or election-related demonstrations may put travelers at risk, whereas travel warnings are issued when there are long-term concerns, such as a drug or civil war.
  • Inform the State Department of your travel plans. Travelers can do this via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program:
  • Find a reputable travel agency or tour operator to organize your travel.
  • Be aware that medication and other essential services may not be easily accessible. Remember to refill and bring any prescribed medication on your trip. Also, travelers may want to consider bringing a portable water purifier, available from sports equipment stories such as REI. In addition, travelers may want consider purchasing medical evacuation insurance, which are available from a variety of companies, including Cigna. Additionally, travelers who need or want reliable phone service may wish to rent a pre-paid satellite telephone.
  • Consider hiring private security to travel with you. Companies such as Academi (formerly Blackwater) and The Centurion Group can provide security personnel to travel with you.
  • Keep one ATM and one credit card in the hotel safe in case robbery occurs while out and about.