10 Places Your Mom Doesn’t Want You to Go
“Please be careful” are the words I hear from my mom all of the time. She tells me this every time I leave New York and it doesn’t matter if I am headed to the Caribbean or the West Bank I just need to “be careful.” I am used to ignoring travel warnings from the US State Department but its a little harder to ignore the mom department.
So in honor of moms everywhere who worry about their kids traveling the world here are some places I know my mom doesn’t want me to go (or go to again).
Iran has been at the top of my list for years. The number of a amazing sites and hospitality I have heard so much about have peaked my interest. Iran is home to the ancient ruins of Persepolis and eight amazing UNESCO World Heritage sites. There are many reasons to visit this beautiful country. The Department of State warns “U.S. citizens to carefully consider the risks of travel to Iran” but don’t let that stop you from making your mom worry.
The conflict between Israel and Palestine isn’t going to be resolved anytime soon. However, this shouldn’t deter you from heading to this occupied territory. Contrary to what you have seen in the media in recent years, most Palestinian cites are safe to explore. Be prepared to get a history lesson from both sides of the conflict. Keep an open mind and enjoy yourself. I can say this was one of the most interesting trips of my life.
Colombia has a bad reputation for violence, kidnappings, and cocaine so it is natural for your mother to worry. Bogota was considered one of the most dangerous and violent cities in the world in the 90s but the city has gone to great lengths to change that. The homicide rate dropped from 81 per 100,000 people in 1993 to 19 per 100,000 in 2006. For reference the city of New Orleans has a rate of 58 per 100,000 inhabitants. So maybe your mom should be worried if you head down to Bourbon Street before you are off to Colombia.
I can’t remember how many times I have heard Mexico is dangerous but the reality that is not true unless you are taking a vacation to beautiful Ciudad Juárez. You are likely headed to the coast and a city like Playa del Carmen is a safe 3,400 km drive away from deadly Juárez. Drug trafficking is big business in Mexico thanks to the United States but the majority of Mexico is very safe and it is one of my favorite countries in the world. So next time mom tells you to stay safe in Mexico remind her that Baltimore and Detroit are a lot more deadly.
Syria is home to Umayyad Mosque, one of the most important mosques in Islam. It also has amazing sites such as the Roman ruins at the Palmyra oasis. But sometimes mom is right. Syria has been labeled a state sponsor of terrorism for the past 30 years by the US and isn’t a safe place to travel. I would love to see Syria someday and see those amazing ruins but it is going to have to wait.
[icon name=”icon-plane”]North Korea
North Korea is a mysterious place that we can only look inside through their filter. All actions in North Korea by tourists are closely monitored so don’t expect to freely move about. Although you cannot do as you please it is relatively safe for visitors. Crime is rare and unless you have a political or religious agenda inside you should be safe. The mystery makes it feel more dangerous than it is and once you have been everywhere else it is time to add North Korea to your list. You can even bring mom along if she is feeling adventurous.
Iraq is home to 10,000–12,000 important archaeological and historical sites. That fact alone should draw someone to the country. However, the mention of “Iraq” invokes thoughts of war and danger. The country has become synonymous to violence and terror. Iraq is still in the middle of endless conflict and it is not a safe place to explore which is unfortunate because it is home to some of the worlds most historical sites.
Cuba is not necessarily a dangerous place but when I told my mom I was traveling there without a license via Mexico she was naturally a little nervous. The United States embargo against Cuba was imposed in 1960 and since Americans have not been able to travel there easily. Expensive people-to-people tours offer structured agendas for tourists with deep pockets but I would prefer to get to know Cuba on my own terms. Travel to Cuba is opening up for Americans and now would be a great time to visit before the doors are wide open to travel.
According to the US State Department “the security threat to all U.S. citizens in Afghanistan remains critical.” Normally I am ready to ignore the travel warnings but sometimes it’s wise to listen. Fragments of the former Taliban regime and members of other terrorist organizations still call this country home. Every country has something to offer but like Syria I plan to give Afghanistan a little more time before I plan a vacation to Kabul.
Political unrest, protests, clashes with the police, and violence are many of the reasons most tourists are avoiding Egypt today. The US Department of State “strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid all demonstrations in Egypt” which I would recommend no matter where you are in the world. A protest might break out in big cities such as Cairo but most tourist sites are perfectly safe to visit. The most violent things will get in Giza is when you are fighting off the local touts selling you camel rides to nowhere. Be smart in Egypt but take advantage of a time with tourism low. Looking into the tourism numbers this year you will see the “first two months of 2014 has dropped 28 percent to 1.3 million in comparison to January and February 2013.” This means less buses of photo-happy tourists and lower prices. I had an amazing time in Cairo and would highly recommend it.
Just remember to be careful and travel safe and maybe you can even bring mom along for the ride. 🙂