Civil unrest, financial crisis and natural disasters all mean one thing – prime time to visit!

Sebastian Smee recently published an article in the Boston Globe describing a recent 3-week excursion to Greece with three generations of family ranging from 4 to 68-years-old.  All I’ve been hearing about Greece lately relates to financial crisis, public demonstrations and even tear gas in Syntagma Square.  Although the future is uncertain for Greece, for now, “violence and crime, although reported to be on the rise, are still nowhere near as high as in the United States. The Greeks themselves, we found, are warmly, casually, universally hospitable. And a block from Syntagma Square — let alone in the rest of the country — there’s no sign at all of the civil unrest that dominates perceptions of today’s Greece.” (1)  The prices couldn’t be better.  The crowds couldn’t be thinner.  The people are grateful that you’ve chosen to visit their country and contribute to their economy.   This is the best time to visit Greece!

When events arise that scare away your average tourist, take it as a sign that you need to go visit, not get spooked away.  After the 2004 tsunami in Thailand, visitors didn’t return for months, adding insult to injury for those who depended on tourism for their livelihood.  It’s not as if the entire country had been wiped off the map.  It was still there, much of its pristine beauty intact.

We went to Kenya at a time of political instability.  We were told that visiting downtown Nairobi on a day when demonstrations were planned was not recommended.  Okay, I could deal with that.  We drove to the Sea of Cortez in Mexico from the border town of Mexicali – with our kids.  Bad news regarding the drug wars were keeping tourists away from regions far removed from drug violence.  The hosts at our bed and breakfast were gracious and so thankful we had come to patronize the businesses in their town.

Last month confrontations with Occupy Wall Street protesters led to tear gas in Oakland and smashed windows in Seattle (2).  So, I told all my foreign friends planning visits to the United States to stay away.  It was too volatile and. . .  Wait, no I didn’t.

Athens photos courtesy of Chad Slayton.

7 thoughts on “Civil unrest, financial crisis and natural disasters all mean one thing – prime time to visit!

  1. Since I have seen the other side, in terms of working emergency lines in Canada. There are very specific reasons that each foreign affairs ministry publishes various country travel profiles. I also worked the lines during a coup attempt in a country. I would do very careful research and look at my countries foreign Affairs country profile, as well as register our travel with the local embassy before departing for a country that has seen civil unrest. .

    1. Indeed, travelers should always be educated about the areas they are traveling to. The U.S. State Department issues travel warnings specific to U.S.citizens which can be a helpful resource for all tourists (http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_1764.html). However, don’t let negative perceptions of a country (often fueled by media) deter you from talking to people that live in the area and making your own decision whether or not to travel. Individuals have different levels of perceived risk. I’m very grateful for the family and friends that came to visit us when we lived in Maputo, Mozambique for two years during the civil war in the late 1980’s. There was a certain level of risk involved, but it did not outweigh the decision to visit (or, in our case, live in Mozambique). And yes, register with your Embassy if there is any concern about serious civil unrest!

      1. Totally agree on all fronts. Most people who panic are not seasoned travelers, nor do they know anyone abroad. You were in Mozambique the same time my old boss was! He thought his years in Rome were more deadly, ha ha!

      2. It was more of a tongue and cheek comment.He had been posted all over the world, and had seen some incredible civil unrest in various countries, but his worst experience was 3 years in Rome and he actually had the most visitors. I think he got robbed at gun point in daylight half a dozen times in daylight.

  2. This is so inspiring… although I have never been to other side of the world I have traveled many times to El Salvador. My friends have been begging me to visit for years but just haven’t made it back. However, I feel like the time is coming soon (and this time I will have a husband & kid with me)!

    I love reading about your blog how you are not afraid to travel with your children and see the world! That is wonderful! 😀

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