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How to Stay Safe During Travel

By: Ellie Burgueno

I consider myself a citizen of the world, even though I haven’t traveled to all the places I hope to visit at least once before I die. Traveling is something everyone should do at least once a year, not only for leisure but for health reasons. However, when it comes to travel, we need to take reasonable precautions, especially when visiting unknown and unfamiliar places around the world.

A few years ago, following the advice of a close and cherished friend, I took the plunge and traveled overseas alone to Paris for a work-leisure trip I had previously planned. Initially, the idea of traveling without a companion seemed frightening, but after having lunch with my friend, a renowned journalist and seasoned traveler, she said: “One of the things you must do in life is travel solo! It will be one of the most thrilling experiences and will give you a better understanding of yourself, people, and the world around you. It’s certainly something very enjoyable!”

Taking her advice to heart, I took a nonstop flight from LA to Paris. As a good journalist, I did my research beforehand, identifying the best places to visit and the precautions to take regarding what kind of purse to carry, outfits to wear, places to visit, and what to avoid. I created an itinerary before arriving in Paris. It included participating in a popular writers’ workshop on the Seine River with about forty-five writers and filmmakers from around the world. Another item on my agenda was to visit Notre Dame Cathedral to take photos and write a story about its reconstruction. So, in fact, I wasn’t entirely alone; I had a packed schedule for my whole visit, which included a full day visiting the most popular places and a lunch at the Eiffel Tower with a group of tourists I ended up befriending. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, traveling solo! From discovering unknown places to meeting wonderful people, it’s an experience that creates indelible memories.

While it would be wonderful to think of the world as a secure place where no one is ever in danger and everyone is always welcomed with open arms, the reality is far from this ideal. Unfortunately, the world can be dangerous, and precautions need to be taken all the time.

Recently, there was a tragic case involving three surfers, two Australian brothers and a man from San Diego, who visited Baja California and camped in a remote area called “La Bocana.” This place is so isolated that even locals avoid it due to its lack of cell reception and distance from any police station or help. The world knows the tragic end of this story, which I wish could have been avoided. Despite these few bad apples, Mexico, particularly Baja California, is a beautiful country full of stunning places, great food, music, and paradises that should be safely enjoyed by all travelers.

It’s unfortunate that governments issued alerts advising against visiting Mexico after this tragedy, as this severely impacts tourism and the livelihoods of those who depend on it: taxi drivers, restaurant owners, hotel workers, and many more.

Travel is more than just having fun; it is essential to the economy and has significant positive impacts on local communities beyond financial gains. Tourists spend money on accommodation, transportation, food, shopping, and services, stimulating the local economy. Hotels, restaurants, tour operators, and local artisans directly benefit from the influx of tourists.

Thus, my advise to all travelers is that before getting wrapped up in the exciting aspects of travel planning, take some time to think about safety. Your destination may not have the same safety, health, and security conditions as your home country. Understanding these differences and preparing for them is a fundamental part of safe travel.

Fortunately, there are many resources available to help you understand the safety threats at your destination and prepare for emergencies. The right knowledge and proper precautions are the key to spending less time worrying and more time enjoying your trip.

By taking reasonable precautions and being aware of your surroundings, you can have a safe and enriching travel experience while contributing positively to the communities you visit. Please share your comments or your travel experiences, whether positive or negative. I’d love to hear from you at bborders.gazette@gmail.com.

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