If you’ve been listening to the news about the US in recent months, you might be a little worried about taking a holiday to America, after reports of mass shootings, natural disasters,terrorist attacks, and the ever-looming threat of nuclear war.
These prospects areterrifying and many seem so foreign to those of us in the UK, but should you avoid going there altogether?
Simply, no. While there are some safety threats in the US and you should always be cautious, the USA is statisticallya safe place for tourists to visit. If it wasn’t, then the British government would have issued a travel warning, but they haven’t.
I won’t lie and tell you that the US is the safest place in the world. It has the highest rate of deaths by guns in the developed world, 90% of the world’s mass shootings, and hate crimes have gone up considerably since November 2016. However, you should also know that crime in America is at a 20-year low and that you have more chance of dying in a bathtub than in a terrorist attack in the US.
The US, like every other country in the world, has issues that make it unsafe, but this shouldn’t stop you from visiting. Remember that what you see in the media is only a very small segment of the real America.
How can visitors to the US stay safe?
Extreme weather and natural disasters
Before you book your trip, look up whether your chosen location is on a fault line or if your chosen timeframe falls in the hurricane/tornado season and try to avoid them.
This isn’t always possible – hurricane season in Florida is pretty much the entire school holidays – so if you’ll be travelling during that time, look up the disaster preparedness action plan for your hotel and keep abreast of local weather reports. This way you’ll know where to take shelter and what to do in case of emergency.
It’s rare that you’ll need it, but better safe than sorry.
Arriving in the country
When you arrive in the USA, make sure to have all of your travel documents in your hand luggage for a smooth passage through security and immigration. This includes your passport, US visa or ESTA (find out more here), the details of where you’re staying, and information about your flight back.
Also, I shouldn’t have to say this, but don’t make jokes about terrorism or bombs.
Tourists are very unlikely to experience violent crime when visiting the US, but you can reduce your risk by taking the same precautionsthat you would at home, like:
- avoiding unfamiliar areas at night
- not leaving valuables in your car
- locking the door to your accommodation
- not sleeping in your car
- sticking to main roads while driving
- only taking licensed taxis
- staying in a group
- not drinking excessively
- not taking drugs
Well that’s about it from me, so now I want to hear from you. Have you recently been to the US? What are your thoughts on staying safe while there? Do you have any advice for fellow travellers? Let me know in the comments below.