I first wrote this article on health, safety and security while travelling in 2013, but given the current pandemic situation, it is time for an update! As a travel advisor, my job is to ensure that my clients have the best information they can have about their health, safety and security while travelling.
For new travellers, who are heading abroad either for the first time, or heading to a country currently in the news due to unrest, this article is for you! If you are an experienced traveller, but are uncertain about the country to which you want to travel, again, this article is for you.
Safety and Security
I am picking Egypt to discuss safety and security as an example as I travelled there in 2018. At the time, it seemed that it was constantly in the news with unrest, demonstrations, etc. However, once one looks beyond the media reports, one reads of the devastation to the tourism sector of their economy- a huge hit. It’s all about education.
Furthermore, the overall publicity is very much a lesson in “how not to manage a revolution” so to speak! The media does not talk at all about the parts of the country that are safe (the majority of the country). There are no government websites that have travel advisories about Egypt, other than avoiding certain parts of the country. There is no or little specific activity against tourists- Egypt’s history is one of tolerance. Tourism is also a huge part of their GDP.
One Resource- Travel.gc.ca
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against non-essential travel to Egypt (with the exception of the Red Sea coastal resorts of Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada and the area along the upper Nile, from Luxor to Aswan, where you should exercise a high degree of caution) due to the unpredictable security situation and continued demonstrations in many parts of the country. The security situation is fluid and the ability to provide consular services may be limited at short notice. We recommend that Canadians register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service. You are responsible for your personal safety abroad. If you do travel to Egypt, we strongly recommend that you plan your travel through a reputable travel company/agency. Travel companies in Egypt are well informed of the security situation and can better plan accordingly.
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against all travel to the Sinai Peninsula, with the exception of the coastal resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, where you should exercise caution. Consult the Security tab for more information.
When I Travelled
This advice was in place when I travelled there, and was in place when many of my clients went. For me, although the government said to avoid all non-essential travel, you can see in the advisory that they actually list exceptions. I have bolded those lines. In 2018, I made an educated decision to travel to this wonderful country, and still have the best memories- as do my clients.
There are other details about travelling safely in Egypt, but most involved common sense. For instance, the following: dressing modestly if you are a woman, avoiding demonstrations, the fact that certain police are designated to help tourists, etc. etc.
Using the travel website above is a wise move at any time for any country. You can also register on the site in case of emergencies of any sort. I provide a link on this blog to this useful travel resource- but I also include it in the information about each country to which my clients travel.
Health While Travelling
As for the pandemic, and health while travelling, this is where a travel advisor is your best resource. Some countries require quarantine- some do not. Countries like Iceland also require negative tests within the last 24-72 hours- some do not. Some countries may require you be tested upon arrival, and charge a fee for that- and some do not. Most countries will require masks, and many require social distancing. It is all about the details.
I also strongly advise consulting a travel doctor/ travel clinic for health issues. What inoculations and injections will you need? Although I can recommend, a travel doctor is your best resource in this case.