Cheap Flights vs. Travel Safety – Go or No?

There are a lot of unusual events going on in the world right now affecting travel safety and airport security: turmoil in the Middle East, an earthquake in New Zealand, ongoing drug violence in parts of Mexico.

This can be confusing for a traveler, since airfare shoppers will see cheap flights to some of these problematic regions. For example: I have an email in my inbox from Aeromexico touting “Irresistible Prices to Mexico!” Many are asking themselves–and asking us–where and whether it’s safe to fly and at what cost? First and foremost, your safety trumps any airfare deal and should be a foremost in deciding where and when to travel. That said, I do have a few more tips to share regarding travel safety measures.

Travel Safety Tips

Anytime you venture out of the country, and this is especially true if you’re heading to trouble spots highlighted in the news:

This site keeps you up to date on Travel Alerts or official warnings issued for various countries regarding travel safety and security measures that have been implemented and airport security advisories.

However, it’s rare for the State Dept. to say, “do not go.” This is true of Mexico, and indeed from everything I’ve seen, most of the tourist areas are safe and the Mexican government works hard to keep them that way. So go on to the next step:

  • Stay Current with News Reports about Your Destination

However, note that media reports may focus on the worst angles of a story, and may not provide a complete picture. On the other hand, chamber of commerce-type organizations may paint an overly rosy picture. Be discerning.

  • Follow Twitter and Facebook

The genius of social media is it provides travelers with real-time, “boots on the ground” observations from people who can provide more authentic and practically, real-time information as well as trusted media sources. See what they have to say, and ask pertinent questions. The FareCompare Facebook page can help you get started.

  • Check Destination Travel Sites for Reviews

Remember though, to toss out the very best and very worst reviews for a country’s attractions, hotels, etc when evaluating travel safety to or from a destination. This will help you avoid partisan bias.

Use Common Sense

Wherever you may go – and this is true for the U.S. too – do not adorn yourself with expensive jewelry, do not flash money, do not travel to bad neighborhoods, do not invite strangers back to your hotel, and avoid traveling alone after dark. Again, this is good common-sense advice to use at home or anywhere for safe travel (or safer travel).

In the end, the decision on where and when to travel is mostly up to you. Don’t be blinded by the lure of a good deal or cheap flight if your gut tells you it’s not safe, but don’t let irrational fears keep you from going anywhere, either.

Stay alert, stay safe, and – happy travels!

Learn more about FareCompare and the cheapest days to fly and best times to buy airline tickets for year-round savings.

More from Rick Seaney:

To Fly or Not to Fly – Cheap Flights vs. Safety and Security


Published: February 24, 2011