Some people might initially have concerns at the thought of traveling to some of these countries, but the reality is that there is probably more risk of becoming the victim of violent crime while walking the streets of Chicago than anywhere you might be visiting on our Balkan and Baltic Bucket List Tour.
Of course, it really helps if you follow some simple rules which you should always follow, everywhere (including Chicago) such as not to dress in flashy expensive clothes and not to wear expensive jewelry, and not to draw attention to yourself by acting in a loud/obnoxious manner.
We are avoiding the ‘worst’ areas on our itinerary, and even places which might – on the face of it – seem ‘scary’ and threatening, such as maybe Kosovo, are actually nothing of the sort. Indeed, being as how the US helped the Kosovans in their war of independence, we are welcomed there as friends and allies.
One indication of the friendliness that most of these countries offer to the US and the west in general is that only one country requires us to obtain a visa prior to traveling there – Belarus. Some people might say that Belarus is more ‘old style communist’ even than Russia, and that may or may not be true, but we’re only spending a very short time in Belarus (we arrive in the morning by train from Kyiv, Ukraine, and leave in the afternoon by coach to Vilnius, Lithuania) so the point is moot.
This also reflects on another issue. Tourism is a very important industry everywhere we go, indeed, the most important industry of all in some of the countries, The governments want to ensure that foreign tourists have a safe and positive experience, and rather than going easy on locals who treat foreigners poorly, they may actually punish them more severely. That’s not to say we should feel invulnerable, of course. But it means we don’t need to feel paranoid, either.
To help you form your own opinion of safety issues, we include here links to both the US State Department and UK Foreign Office advisories for all the countries we visit. And just so you have a comparison, we also include links to advisories for Mexico and China so you have a feeling for what both services say about massively popular travel destinations as well.
Note that the US State Department does NOT have Travel Warning notices for any of the countries we will visit (although it does for Mexico, The Philippines, and various other countries – list here).
The UK Foreign Office rates all countries as requiring no restrictions on travel considerations, with the exception of Kosovo. In the case of Kosovo, the areas of concern are in the north and east, close to Serbia. We do not go anywhere near there, staying to the south of Kosovo. The UK FCO has a similar level of advisory for Mexico.
One last thing about safety. The greater your concern about safety, the more sensible it is for you to choose to travel with us. Yes, there is ‘safety in numbers’ as compared to traveling alone.
We also include links to the relevant country pages at the excellent CDC’ Traveler’s Health site. As you can see, there is nothing particularly out of the ordinary in terms of health issues anywhere, and our ‘base line’ of Mexico and China both have massively more health warnings than any of the countries we’ll be visiting.
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