Security is the last (and often neglected) aspect considered when both vacation and travel are mixed in the same pot labelled ‘downtime’. As consumers, we scavenge around the Internet waves, hunting for flights, hotels and car rentals that best suit our budgets. The thrill of escaping the mundane blinds us, as we are rewarding ourselves for the sacrifices of daily responsibility. The search eventually becomes a credit card transaction, leading to the customary packing of a beaten up suitcase, that faithful travel companion that keeps all of our favourite tourist gear. Now it’s time to kick back and daydream of the exotic sandy beaches, the fine dining and everything related to the exciting unknown, locking the door and everyday life until the return.
|Paradise is one short flight away|
Many North American tourists flee from the frigid temperatures in hopes to find more balmy ones further South – anywhere without polar bears and walruses prancing around the snow covered countryside will do. When I returned to Canada from my exile, I was surprised with the number of tempting, all-inclusive packages, enticing you to spend a week in the Caribbean. Some of these interesting deals included Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic – the real name of a country people call, “The Dominican” – Jamaica – if there is “The Dominican”, let’s call this one, Jamrock – Mexico and other dreamy slices of tropical paradise. These places become even more tempting to a potential customer when you have to walk on a sidewalk during a 30-below day without taking into account the bone chilling winds. There have been times where I have considered applying as an environmental refugee in the Sahara just because of our winters.
The truth is, not many people plan ahead or research about where they are travelling once the tickets are purchased. Woo palm trees! I suppose the reasoning may follow these lines: “Why should I do homework when it comes to MY vacation time? The only preparation I need is to be care-free!” I am willing to put money on this one – I have plenty of Monopoly money sitting around in a shoe box - but I am certain most of those who are aligned with this school of thought have probably never come across the words: “consular case.” If you do not take the proper precautions such as reading comprehensive travel guides, watch documentaries or look for news clippings about where you are going, you could find out what this means sooner rather than later. Do yourself a favour and invest in your investment.
In this part of the world, we often hear horror stories about people’s nightmare-ish vacation. I have heard everything from Canadian teenagers arrested in Jamaica trying to smuggle marijuana back to the frozen North, couples roughed up outside their hotel in some dodgy part of town they never should have gone to or vacationers arrested for disorderly conduct. Everyone likes to have fun yet we all have different ways of experiencing this concept. Just because you are somewhere other than home when on vacation, this does not mean you can switch off your “civilized button.” What happens on vacation, does not stay in your vacation. On the contrary, you may just end up extending your stay in a foreign prison resort in your very own cell, getting acquainted with some of the tougher individuals you were never supposed to meet according to your travel agent.
|When will this vacation end?|
Many developing countries have spectacular hotels providing outstanding services for their guests. However, you must take into consideration that the majority of staff can’t even dream about taking any trip with the kind of salary they are on. Some even live in countries where they are not aloud to leave. You may find in some instances that locals approach you, asking for a gift and others just take what they want - you may not enjoy this one-way cultural exchange. Make sure to do your homework and find out what you can do, where you can go and what places you most certainly have to avoid. These are not recommendations but warnings. Doing this routine has certainly guaranteed that my vacations are a proper investment rather than a lifetime regret. Thank you for tuning into this public service announcement and happy travels to all!