I recently mentioned an upcoming China, but that trip’s been scrapped. Instead I have the opportunity to go to Brazil. Since I’d be tagging along with Jeff’s MBA program crew, I’d have my days to myself; they’re all in class until 4pm. I absolutely love exploring new cities alone—in this case, Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro—so that sounds good to me. But, if I go… yes, if… it will not be without warning: One person said, “Never leave your hotel alone.” Another said, “Only leave your hotel in a bullet-proof car [whether or not you’re accompanied].” And a Web article I read while doing research assured me: “You’ll be fine. Just be sure to carry a ‘rape alarm.'”
Could it possibly be that bad? I’m not one to turn down a free hotel room, and I’m a very savvy traveler. (I write a travel blog for cryin’ out loud.) But I’m not stupid either. I have no interest in getting myself into a scary, if not downright dangerous situation.
Should I go and camp out on the hotel grounds each day until the group joins me? Should I take “bullet-proof” cars and then do my sightseeing in as inconspicuous a manner as possible? Should I spend my days with guided tour groups of strangers? Should Jeff drink caipirinhas, dance the samba and befriend Sergio Mendes while I sit on my couch, eating Lean Pockets and watching Grey’s Anatomy with my cat?
Similarly, I’ve always wanted to visit Israel. In fact, I even wrote an essay once in elementary school for a chance to win a trip for me and my family. But it’s so easy to let news headlines cloud your view of magical places—even though the odds of anything bad happening are so slim. If I won the Israel essay contest today, would I go? I’d probably be asking the same questions I’m asking in regards to Brazil.
If you’re considering traveling to Israel, I may have a fact that actually will comfort you. I stopped by the Israel tourism table at the NY Times travel show and approached the representative: “I’m sure you get this question all the time, but is it safe to travel to Israel?” She responded, “A record high of three million people from all over the world visited Israel in 2008.” [Dramatic pause.] All three million people came home safely. Tourism is Israel’s third-largest industry.”
Now if only someone would offer up a statistic like that for Brazil…
I did end up traveling to Brazil! Check out my post-Brazil travel ideas and suggestions here:
- Safety tips for traveling alone
- A fun way to spend a day in São Paulo
- One must-know (money-saving!) Rio de Janeiro travel tip