Ask Phil

Ask Phil

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About me:

I'm a Travel Safety specialist at WorldNomads.com and I research and write about issues which may stop you enjoying your trip. Our motto: keep traveling, safely. We want you to be as informed as possible about your intended destination so you can make the right decisions about your safety.

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Joined:

August 2010

  • +4 rating

    I heard that there is some kind of river tubing thing where you can get really really really drunk while floating down a river. Cant find it

    Ah, Vang Vieng! I recently posted on tubing in Laos which covers the safety aspects, and gives some tips on Tubing Without Drowning http://bit.ly/abTxQE The things already posted here are all great advice. Go, have a good time, it's a great party, but take care it an be really, really dangerous. Just one other word of advice, and it applies everywhere not just VV: if you get blind drunk and injure yourself your insurance claim for the medical evacuation might be knocked back. Travel insurance is not a licence to be stupid. It assumes you'll take reasonable steps to ensure your own safety. "I thought it was a good idea to jump off a 10 metre tower while blind drunk and broke my leg." probably won't go down well with your insurer, and you'll be stuck with the medical bill and a holiday cut short.(ps they do check if you were drunk or drug affected!). Please take care. Phil about 4 years ago

  • +4 rating

    Is it safe to travel to Colombia?

    Colombia is not as bad as it once was, but you need to use common sense and caution to stay safe. The bad news first: 3 foreign tourists were among the 146 people kidnapped (for ransom) so far this year, they've since been released. The number of kidnappings is down hugely from a few years ago, but there's been a surge in 2010... 25% more than the same time last year. The south of the country is especially dangerous and many foreign governments recommend against any travel to that region because of the risk of kidnap or being caught in the crossfire of a gun battle. The US State department reissued its warning that it considers Colombia "dangerous" in March 2010 and said: "...violence by narco-terrorist groups continues to affect some rural areas as well as large cities." http://bit.ly/akTzev The Australian government (mine) says Do Not Travel to the south - at all. it recommends you Reconsider Your Need To Travel to: provinces of Cesar, La Guajira and Antioquia (excluding Medellin), the cities of Cali and Popayan, and most rural areas. Of Colombia as a whole it says Exercise A High Degree of Caution. (It says the same thing about Brazil.) http://bit.ly/9iF5uV The good news now: In February 2010 the French government declared parts of Colombia to be "safe": adding Santa Marta, Barranquilla, Bogota, Tunja, Bucaramanga, as well as the Zona Cafetero departments of Quindio, Risaralda and Caldas to Cartagena and San Andres as destinations approved for travel. http://bit.ly/9J74G0 Traveller forums (people who've actually been there - this year) overwhelmingly rave about the place; they say it's beautiful and it's safer than other Sth Am countries.... as long as you stick to the popular tourist destinations. Which seems to be the key: Going off the beaten path might not be the best idea, and when you're in the cities ask locals or other travellers which are the areas to avoid. The city of Cali continues to be troublesome and best avoided, as are most rural areas, and the whole of the south. And as always use care on your travels. Phil over 4 years ago

  • +3 rating

    Vaccinations - yellow fever and meningitis

    The World Health Organization states that a Yellow Fever vaccination is effective for 30-35 years, possibly for life. So you don't need to be re-vaccinated. To enter Saudi Arabia you will need your Yellow Fever Vaccination card. In December 2007 the WHO adopted a new-style of YF Vaccination certificate, however the old style (which you'll have) is still valid for 10 years from the date of issue. As for meningitis: there are several types of meningitis. Not sure which one you're talking about. Have a look at the FAQ on the CDC website here: http://www.cdc.gov/meningitis/about/faq.html and get some advice from your doctor about what's appropriate for you (make sure you go to the doctor 6 to 8 weeks before departure). Phil about 4 years ago