Stamps In My Passport

When putting together these brief travel vignettes for ALIVE, I try to share some small interaction with people of other countries – cameos that you, my readers, might have experienced. Or, at least ones that you might be able to identify with. I hope over the years I’ve been successful with this policy. This month, however, I plan to deviate and use an unusual style to highlight a new difficulty that is developing for us – the regular international travelers. The problem we face has a plus and a minus factor. I hope you’ll be able to identify with the two extremes and maybe share the method you’ve used to circumnavigate the problem. Oh, I forgot to identify the problem, so here it is: Where in the world can we go these days to assure a safe and comfortable, yet affordable trip?Untitled-1

The other day while watching a news broadcast, the host flashed up a map of the world with countries represented by various color combinations. The countries where fighting exists between varying religious factions came up red. There were quite a few. Certainly the Middle East was covered in red. The Israel/Palestine area is in turmoil. The Sunnis and Shiites are battling each other, making Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq areas to avoid. Pakistan, never much of a tourist site, can be included here.

So what about Africa? Well, the red was a bit muted and came out pink. But with the incidence of Ebola, the western part of the continent is not an option. Egypt is struggling to regain tourists, but there is still constant fighting between the Muslim Brotherhood and other factions. The so-called “horn” is being run by wild men, and a few other spots showed up pink as well.

Asia appeared with both Thailand and Myanmar a faded pink, having just undergone ruler changes and occasional uprisings. South America revealed the lightest shade of red on Venezuela, and a couple of other nations displayed rosy blotches

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. In fact I’ll bet you might be able to add some countries to the list that I’ve omitted. But, I did say in my introduction that there is a plus and a minus. Let’s focus for a minute on the plus.

Air travel to any place in the world has become easier. Sure, the inspections at the airport generate frustration, and the lines go on forever. We older people can keep our shoes and jackets on which helps a bit. Both passengers and inspectors have years of experience now, so this passage seems almost routine. Flights in general are more comfortable these days as well. In most cases you can travel directly to your destination, and often the flight time is shorter as the planes are a bit faster.

So where does all of this confusion and uncertainty leave us? Well for one thing, if you are traveling abroad pick a country or an area that is currently stable. Or the converse – avoid areas that are at war, in revolt, or going through some other turmoil. Next, hunt for areas where history, art, or scenery will give you pleasure. The topics transcend time, and difficulties may fade into the background. Many works of art have given locals and tourists pleasure for centuries. The sights enrich your life and may give you stories to share.

Me? I’ve made a selection for my next offshore excursion. It will remain a secret until next month when it will become a story in ALIVE for you to read, and hopefully enjoy.