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Travel warnings and safety

May 5, 2014

I wanted to share some choice elements of travel advice that I received this morning from a travel agent who is helping me on a trip to the Middle East. I’m transiting through the UK, and was pleased to hear that there is “Low risk from food”, and risk from rabies only “from bat bites or scratches”. I was a little skeptical based on my experience that the “transport system is … reliable“, and when told that “lack of cultural awareness unlikely to cause major offense” began to suspect that the person who had put together this briefing had never been to Glasgow. That said I do think that in general the standard of preparedness and support for aid workers traveling has got better over the years, at least for the most part.

Regardless, it’s important to remember that the buck stops with you when travel anywhere. Regardless of the advice you do or don’t get, you need to do your own research, and gauge security and safety issues for yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask any agency you are traveling with how their advice is put together, when it was last reviewed, and the credentials of the people or agency that wrote it. Don’t be afraid of sounding rude – these are common sense questions that no agency should be put off by.

If you don’t like the answers you’re getting, be prepared to walk away from the assignment. While it can be tempting, especially when your first job is on the line, to take risks you might not be comfortable with in the cold light of day, it’s really not worth placing your safety in the hands of someone in whom you don’t have confidence.

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