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Weighing risks when mapping travel plans

by AirTalk®

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Tourists walk past the National Museum building in Phnom Penh on May 10, 2013. Cambodia is expected to receive 4 million foreign visitors in 2013, an expected 12 percent rise year-on-year. TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP/Getty Images

Planning summer vacation is mostly about finding relaxation or excitement and beautiful places, but it can also be about what you’re avoiding: bad weather, poisonous snakes, picket pockets and palatable fear.

Are you a smart traveller or do you travel with abandon? How do you select your destinations? How do you know which excursion companies -- for zip-lining, bungee-jumping or insect-dining -- are thrilling in all the right ways? What are the best sources for the latest travel information? How extensive should travel insurance coverage be? What are some places that are perceived as risky, but in fact worth being on your bucket list?  What are your lessons learned?


Brice Gosnell, Vice President of Publishing, Lonely Planet of the Americas

Interview Highlights:

On if there is a market for risky travel:
"I wouldn't necessarily suggest that there is a market, but one aspect of travel is that people like a 'brag factor.' The more experienced you are in terms of traveling you're also trying to raise the bar for yourself so you might be more comfortable trying something that might be a different type of travel for you and that could be perceived as risky. Then you get the advantage of coming back and telling all your friends, 'Well look where I went' and everyone says 'wow, I can't believe you went there!'"

On the value of State Department risk lists:
"I think they're valuable to give you a starting point. I think that if I've gone anywhere, any place where I've gone where I knew there was a perceived risk I always check out what the State Department says. Then you also have to put some of your own common sense, some of your own experience on top of that in terms of what additional information do you want to sort of flush out that risk, to decide whether or not that is a risk you are personally comfortable with."

On if crime (i.e. Mexican Drug Violence) in foreign destinations act as deterrents:
"You can underestimate the power of the media. Just speaking on the issues in Mexico for example, you know Mexico obviously has gotten a lot of bad press because of the drug violence there but in terms of the day to day violence that happens there versus the US, Mexico as a country is actually quite safe. What we're getting reports on is very targeted specific areas, most people understand this consciously, but at the same time when they're making the decision as to whether it's worth going to Mexico or another destination that might be a factor."

On what locations are sought out by adventurous American tourists:
"Some destinations that may have had a reputation as being not safe, those places have actually changed. A really good example is Nicaragua. I went to Nicaragua eight years ago and even at that time, it was very much starting to become a bit on the scene for people in the know, it had to more with people who were either retiring, because there's a certain area in Nicaragua where there are some retirees and surfers, but traveling there I felt completely comfortable the whole time."

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