Where Would You NOT Travel To?

by brian on June 8, 2009

When I was picking places to go on my round the world trip (RTW), I simply pulled out a map, looked at the countries, continent by continent, and figured which ones appealed to me. But I didn’t rule any place out.

The 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre (‘incident’ as Chinese officials call it) reminded me why many people have no desire to go to China. You probably have your own list of places you won’t go, even if someone paid you. Human rights abuses. Treatment of women. Child slavery. Perceived threat of danger to tourists. Long prison terms. Dictatorships.

Let’s talk about some of those places:

There is a reason Cuban Americans say they would celebrate in the streets the day Fidel Castro dies and the government collapses. He locked away many people and has killed others for defying his rule since his ascension to power in 1959.

The USA does not allow direct flights to Cuba, the lasting result of being Communist so close to American shores and the embargo after the Cuban Missile Crisis. But the hypocrisy is apparent. There are plenty of countries that have ties to the US with the same political situation as Cuba. What is the difference? We’ll see what happens with the new US administration slowly allowing more travel to Cuba.

A few people have told me they will never go to China because of that government’s support of the regimes of Sudan and Zimbabwe. The recent 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre brought a crackdown on Internet usage and huge police presence in the Square to prevent any types of ceremonies to reflect on the incident. They blocked Internet access to services like Twitter, Youtube and Facebook.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to award China the 2008 Olympics in hopes of forcing wide the doors of democracy. Not so successful IOC. China is cracking the door open on some capitalist initiatives, but the ruling class still hold firm over the populace.

From Israel to Saudi Arabia, I know some people avoid this entire region like the plague. People perceive the threat of violence from the actions of a few. The treatment of women is another sticking point. Human rights? Democracy? Palestinian vs. Israeli? Israel v. The Rest of the Region? The fact that the majority of 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia means some Americans will never step foot into that country.

I went with a tour group to Egypt in 2007 … we had two buses with armed escorts on each bus. We are talking machine gun packing escorts, who DID NOT want their pictures taken.

100 0407 Where Would You NOT Travel To?

My own beloved Stars and Stripes is a no fly zone for many people. Do you really need a list of reasons why? Guantanamo, Iraq, Afghanistan, the hard process for tourist and school visas, the death penalty existing still in many states, on and on. The ‘Imperialist Yankees’ have a lot of admirers, but also plenty of haters.

Lady Liberty, some folks won’t come to see you. Don’t be surprised, I’m not…

 Where Would You NOT Travel To?
Barack Obama’s election may open eyes, but many won’t come here on principle. I got plenty of love from fellow travelers right before and after the Presidential election, but I can only imagine what it would have been like to travel abroad a few years earlier. But for the most part, Americans don’t have to pretend like we are from Canada anymore…

And these are some of the obvious ones we can talk about. Essentially you can close your eyes, pick any country in the world off a map, and find a reason not to go there. That is absolutely your right and how you spend your time or money is completely up to you. Before you write it off, examine your reasoning.

Do the conditions still exist or is it more perceived then actuality? Is it rumors, innuendo and false news reports clouding my impression of the country? Will I be completely unhappy going there? Is there anything worthwhile that I want to see or do?

Maybe your biggest question is: Can we separate the respective governments of countries you want to avoid from the citizens, culture and history you want to see?

Does popping into Shanghai mean you support Chinese Internet censorship?

Does jetting to Havana for a cigar mean you condone Castro’s 50 year reign?

Does going to New York for sightseeing or Vegas for gambling mean you support the ‘war on terror’?

Everyone’s answer is different. What’s important to you? Ultimately you have to pick and choose what you are comfortable with.

Fortunately the world is such a big, captivating place that you can skip places and still not have all the time or money to get to everything you want to.

Just don’t let it stop ALL your travel.

With that said, where will you not travel to? Is your concern crime, terrorism, human rights, the government in charge or some other reason? Let us know in the comments!

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Joel P. June 8, 2009 at 2:40 AM

Part of how I view it is a question of what about my visit will damage the place or support something I don't like. I'm planning on visiting China and middle east, even if I don't agree with Chinese government's attitudes towards the so called "maturity" of its own people (its justification of censorship, and the single party political system) and I obviously don't take to kindly to terrorism, but I feel I can travel to both places without giving a lot of money or support to either the Chinese government or to terrorist groups. In fact, I especially want to get to the middle east so that I can learn more about what life is like there for normal people, and hopefully show people there that not all Americans act like how we're portrayed to them.

However, I refuse to go to Myanmar/Burma because almost anything you do there pays at least part of its money to the government, and I have some serious issues with its human rights record. The country's rightfully elected leader has been wrongfully imprisoned for decades, and she's publicly asked international visitors not to come to the country.


Jeremy Jones June 8, 2009 at 7:39 AM

I think the only places I would not go to are physically dangerous because they either do not have any infrastructure whatsoever or are in the middle of a war. I care what the governments are doing, but not that much to go as far as saying I wont go see the country because of it.

I didn't know you went to Egypt, what company did you go with? I've got 57 days until I leave for my trip there and Jordan, woowoo!


brian June 8, 2009 at 6:36 PM

@Joel P.
I hear you, but there is really no way of knowing how much of your dollars go back to the government. It is Communist after all so 'theoretically' the money is going to 'everyone'. That is NOT exactly what happens but that's the gist of their form of government.

Locking up the democratically elected leader is a huge negative.
I would be worried about being put in jail on trumped up charges if they can lock up the nation's leader. No feeling of safety there.

@Living the Dream
Physical danger is a big reason not to go somewhere. Not picking on South Africa, but when I was booking my ticket, my travel agent tried to steer me away from Joburg. Is there truth in the comments about crime there? Depends on who you talk to. Some say it's exaggerated, some say stay away at all costs.


TJ June 9, 2009 at 11:32 AM

At this time I am currently working on a new version of my "bucket list". The one thing that is paramount is that I feel that I am going to be safe. Also the country would need to have some sort of decent infrastructure. When my trip to Egypt was canceled by the group leader, I was not sad. My feeling was I'll get there eventually. As far as places I would not go…..right now Columbia and Nicaragua come to mind. I have some friends that are originally from Columbia. They always have stories of harassment to tell. Everything from being detained for a week, to several strip searches to personal effects being stolen.
Oh and on South Africa, a female friend of mine visited last year and she and her girlfriend stayed over for a week in Capetown after the tour group left for home. I had another female friend live there for two years. I guess it just depends. I will see if I can get one of them to stop in and leave a comment.


brian June 9, 2009 at 9:32 PM

@Living the Dream
I went to Egypt with a non-profit group that takes teens to Egypt every year called the D'Zert Club.

Egypt has decent infrastructure to support tourism…except there are NO traffic lights in Cairo, a city of over 8 million people! But do go, I think you'll really enjoy it. I had a great time there. I never felt in any danger. But then again, our tour group never let us out on own.

South Africa has a rep as being dangerous. Cape Town is not as notorious as Johannesburg, but they warned us not to walk around at night in Cape Town and to take a cab, even for short distances.


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