8 Recommendations on How to Deal with Travel Risks

Besides being a purser at KLM, I also harbour a plan to visit every country in the world. There are 193 countries and I have visited 189, including some ‘risky’ countries. “Isn’t that dangerous?” I’m often asked, which is why I’d like to share some tips on how to limit travel risks as much as possible.

Let me first draw a clear distinction between travelling for KLM and travelling for myself. KLM has strict rules for its crews abroad. In countries where there is unrest, it’s possible that crews will be instructed to remain in the hotel. My colleagues and I adhere strictly to the guidelines.

All travel bears a certain degree of risk, wherever you go. Iraq is, of course, more dangerous than Italy. But something unpleasant could happen to you in Italy, too, though the nature of the risk is different. The choice ultimately comes down to: What risk am I willing to take and what will I gain from taking it? My answer is that the greater risk is one of missing out on an extraordinary, beautiful experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life. So, I go. But I use my head, take good care and plan my trip thoroughly.

1. Get informed

Try to gather as much information as possible before you leave. Check the travel advice being issued by your government’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs. These tend towards (extreme) caution, so post questions on travel forums and read reports from other travelers who have been there recently. Try to contact local (travel) organisations. They share a joint interest with you: They want to attract visitors, but also want to keep the reputations of their country and company intact and will therefore not encourage you to jettison yourself into rash adventures. Also talk to your travel insurance company when you go to destinations with an advice against traveling. There might be consequences when you choose to do so.

2. Talk to the locals

Once you arrive, talk to people. Ask them about the situation. Which areas in a city or regions in a country would it be best to avoid? What are the dangers? What’s the current situation? Ask different people so that you can build up a detailed picture.

In my experience, people in countries frequented less by tourists are honoured that you are visiting their country and will do everything possible to give you a good impression of the country. They are usually genuinely concerned about your safety.

Boris Somalia Travel risks
With armed bodyguards in Mogadishu

3. Keep a low profile

Robbery and theft occur throughout the whole world. You can minimize the risk by not being too conspicuous. Safely store your valuables, keep them out of sight or leave them at home. Don’t wear jewelry or watches and keep an eye on your surroundings.

4. Know your destination

Before leaving your hotel, have an idea about where you’re headed and create a picture of the citymap in your head as quickly as possible. This will prevent you from lingering and searching for places once you’re out and about.
travel risksLocal transport can be very challenging.

5. Stay indoors at night

In my experience, there aren’t that many cities left in the world where it’s safe to stroll around the streets at night by yourself; it would be wiser not to do so.

6. Think about friends and family at home

While you’re travelling and enjoying all the memorable places along the way, friends and family at home may be concerned about your safety. Bear in mind that only newsworthy images about your destination are presented at home. These images are often shocking and you may notice little of them on site. Communicate regularly about your movements.

7. Inform the embassy

If you’re travelling alone in a high-risk country, it would be a good idea to notify your embassy accordingly. If something should unexpectedly occur, it’s useful if others know your whereabouts.

8. Trust your intuition

When in doubt, don’t do it. If you are afraid of going somewhere, think of an alternative destination.
Don’t be afraid to trust your intuition. Don’t be afraid to trust other people. Don’t be afraid to go. But equally, don’t be afraid to take a decision NOT to do something if it doesn’t feel right.

Of course, these recommendations don’t guarantee you a safe journey. But it would be fair to say, the more you travel, the more you’ll learn to assess inherent risks and how to deal with such situations yourself.

All that remains is for me to wish you a safe journey filled with unforgettably beautiful memories that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

Posted by:   Boris  | 
Join the conversation Show comments

Lolita M. Balboa

Very informative travel tips. Thank you. I will bear it in mind.

penelope burreci

Very necessary advice for all who contemplate to foreign climes. One must do the homework first.
I had the awful experience of literally being” taken for a ride” by a taxi in Rome when I was an
innocent teenager and driven for about 2 hrs before arriving at the prebooked hotel where
the manager, fortunately stepped in and made the driver ask for the normal correct charge.
Never again, I am a lot more clued up now.

Eleanor mc Cormack

Hi I am traveling to Zanzibar on 25-10-2016 with my daughter have you any advice for safty tips I am 56 she is31 and this is first time going here ☺


Email me sheilasdsouza@hotmail.com and I will get you in touch with friends in Zanzibar who could advise you.


@lolita: You are welcome! I can only hope my travel tips can help others.

@penelope: Traveling inevitably comes with lessons; often, the bad experiences turn into anecdotes later. I am sure you took a lesson from your experience in Rome, and I am glad to read that the manager solved the problem for you. Your experience shows that anywhere you go, you can meet people who will try to take advantage of you. The challenge is, I believe, to be on your guard without becoming too tense about it and enjoy your travels.


Any advice or tips about Pakistan I’m travelling from Ireland in December and a little nervous. I’m very excited and honoured to be invited to my friends wedding there. But still as an Irish girl travelling over to lahore alone needless to say family and friends are extremely nervous although I will be staying with my friends family for my entire trip. And every one I know from there had been super positive

Frederick Bach

Maybe don’t carry small change or small bills in the same wallet as your credit cards. I was double-timed and jostled on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem while looking for a dollar for a map they were selling. My backup credit card, a virgin card, was knocked out of my wallet without my knowledge and that day a bunch of charges went against it in Jerusalem. I mean a guy would think you could trust the Mount of Olives to be better policed.

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