What you need to know when traveling to a country that's in an economic crisis
The idea of traveling to a country that's in an economic crisis can be unsettling. You see images of protests, people yelling, long lines at ATMs. You read headlines that predict dire endings, total collapse. It can be hard to sort out click-bait subject lines from reality. Let's be honest; after the last year and a half, every destination is hurting and in crisis.
Here's the good news: you can travel to countries that might be having economic trouble, and you can have a fantastic trip. Several of 2016's most troubled economies, according to Bloomberg, were countries that are popular with tourists – places like Brazil, Greece, and Russia.
First, I can help you separate hype from fact. For example, while the thought of protests can sometimes be uncomfortable to U.S. citizens, it's important to note that protests are a reasonably common occurrence in places like Europe. Protests and strikes are much more a part of the social fabric for average citizens than for people in the United States. Often, under the drama of signs and shouting, conditions in a particular country might still be very ordinary and relatively calm. And as long as things are stable and it's safe to be in that country, there's no reason to avoid it.
Here are a few other things to keep in mind if you decide to an economically distressed country. If you prepare correctly, you can protect your investment and maximize the enjoyment of your vacation.
Get travel insurance and make sure you clearly understand all the details. Insurance can help protect your purchases if a tour company or resort goes out of business. Just make sure you know what's covered and what isn't. For example, if a protest or strike is predicted before you get on your plane, your travel insurance company may refuse to cover your expenses. Talk to me or contact your insurance provider directly to make sure you understand the terms clearly.
Book with credible airlines and tour operators. For U.S. citizens, this means booking with providers approved by the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA). Package deals also tend to protect the consumer more than buying each service separately.
Bring a variety of ways to pay for your holiday, including extra cash in the currency of the country you're visiting. Most hotels, restaurants, and tour operators will still take credit cards, and often the cash limit at ATMs that's in place for citizens will not apply to foreign visitors. Federal credit regulations allow travelers to file credit disputes if a service wasn't provided because of bankruptcy. Still, it's a good idea to bring more cash than you would usually, just in case there's an interruption in credit card or ATM services.
The recently-instituted value-added-tax (VAT) increase in Europe may slightly affect prices on some goods and services. This mainly affects hotel prices and restaurant food for tourists, though there are plenty of ways to get great deals on these services.
Consider exploring areas of the country that you know will be quieter. Downtown in significant cities and university campuses tend to be common rally areas. Often, the countryside or smaller cities offer gorgeous views, plenty of amenities, delicious meals at affordable prices, and friendly citizens who appreciate the boost of tourist dollars. Take advantage of an opportunity to experience a fantastic place — and help boost a discouraging economy.
Make the extra effort to connect with citizens. Strike up conversations in coffee shops. Ask questions at your hotel front desk. Take a moment to learn about what's going on from an inside perspective. What you see in the news does not reflect the nuance of the human experience. Your trip can only be enriched by connecting with the people who live in the country you're visiting.
Do you have a place in mind but have questions in an uncertain global economy? Contact us, and let's see how we can make your vacation a reality. You'll be so glad you did!