Is The Middle East Safe For Family Travel On A budget?

Traveling can be stressful under the best of circumstances, but when you are planning a trip overseas the stress increases. When you toss in a destination that might be featured on the nightly news–well, what’s a parent to do? I am a firm believer in traveling and have taken my own kids to some destinations that other might consider “dicey.”

However, I am not stupid. I do not put us in harm’s way and I travel responsibly and very aware of my surroundings. Some simple rules will go a long way to insuring a hassle-free, and most importantly a safe trip.

Don’t load yourself down with cash. Petty thieves and pickpockets are all over. Credit is your friend when traveling. Keep you wallet in your front pocket (men) or your purse slung across your chest (women) to make sure it is close to you. If you are ever bumped into or put in a situation where you are distracted, be sure to check for your belongings immediately. My kids joke with me about my nervous tick where I am always patting my pocket to make sure my wallet is there. As I said, credit cards are universally accepted and it does pay to compare credit cards to save on currency fees. You would be surprised.

Speaking of money, you also should make sure that you have enough money in your bank account. If you are the victim of a pickpocket and need cash, your bank is going to be better positioned to help you immediately than a credit card company.  One time in New Orleans I was the victim of a pickpocket in the casino. While the credit card companies needed to get police reports and forms to initiate the process; my bank just needed to be assured it was me, and I was on my way with my own cash. Don’t forget about leaving some behind!

And remember, the Middle East encompasses a lot more than the hotspots you hear on the news.  The cultures and sights are beautiful, majestic, and literally once in a lifetime experiences. While Israel and Egypt (although we might argue that is Africa) and some of the nations on the Saudi Peninsula get all the attention, you might want to consider visiting  Turkey for example. You have ancient cities filled with bustling markets, and one of the friendliest group of people in the world. Bonus points for Turkey is that they adore children and will fawn over you and be willing to show you their world. If you are there, take them up on the offer and catch a glimpse into an ancient world.

Keeping safe abroad is very easy. Remember, we have crime in our own backyards and just because we are traveling on vacation is no reason to let our guard down. You would not regularly carry thousands of dollars in your purse or wallet at home–don’t do it on the road. The dark alley in Istanbul is just as dangerous as the dark alley back home in suburban Philadelphia.  Use common sense, keep your wits about you, and enjoy  the world!

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