Gina Petrovich

Getting over the hump: Kelowna wanderer offers insights on staying safe while travelling

Every Wednesday, Gina Petrovich will be sharing her experiences

Imagine yourself in a crowded metropolis; the sounds, smells and sites overwhelming your senses with curiosity and wonder as you wander, taking it all in. Suddenly there’s a new sound – shrill screaming fills your ears and you look towards the shrieking to see a mob of people just ahead of you all running in the same direction.

For me, this was a reality in Times Square, Manhattan. Immediately my fight or flight response kicked in and I became very aware of my surroundings. Instinctively, I merged into the animated mass of people and migrated with them in the direction they were headed.

Were we under attack? Was something on fire? Was there an unsettled individual threatening our safety? These were all thoughts that flew through my mind in the seconds – that felt like minutes leading up to the flashing lights just ahead of me. I stopped. These were not emergency responder lights, nor were the screams those of terror. Camera flashes and excited fans buzzed as the cast from then-popular TV show Glee exited a nearby theatre.

I’ve never understood the whole screaming over celebrities thing but was so relieved that I had just run to see TV stars rather than run for my life.

READ MORE: Overcoming fear: Even Kelowna wanderers feel it too

This may seem like a dramatic place for my mind to first go, but I can hardly blame myself for my thoughts with all that has been going on around the world in growing volume.

I know it has increasingly been the case for me – and likely many of you, to receive warnings from weary family and friends about your decision to travel and even more so your choice of where. Often, travellers are nervous too, but we mustn’t let the fear of what could happen hold us back from the certain enjoyment we will get from world exploration.

I’ve faced the decision to cancel my travel plans a few times over safety concerns, and every time I went on my trip as planned (I haven’t cancelled yet), I was rewarded with welcoming citizens, smaller crowds and lower prices. I didn’t witness a single grenade bombing my entire time in Thailand and being charged three euro for a Ginger Ale in Paris was the only time I was robbed in Europe.

With a trip to the Middle East just around the corner, I’ve been more than occupied planning and researching. I don’t think I will put a pin on the Gaza-strip during my stay in Israel, nor will I initiate dialogue with a taxi-driver in Jordan, unless he chooses to speak to me. I will have to dress a specific way, cover my hair in certain regions and avoid some areas and borders at all costs. Doing your homework before travelling somewhere foreign is a crucial practice and will aid in your safety and peace-of-mind.

The tourism industry has long been negatively impacted by the threat of unpredictable events. Health epidemics, natural disasters, financial collapse and political unrest can all affect the quality of our travel and ultimately, our decision to travel at all.

The government of Canada website offers updated advisories for every country and region in the world: terrorism threats, natural disasters, infectious disease and vaccination advice as well as entry/exit requirements. Watch for alerts, keep studying and be ready to reap the benefits of your preparation at www.travel.gc.ca.

Gina Petrovich is a Kelowna-based wanderer with a knack for adventure. She’s now sharing her adventures with the Capital News in a bi-monthly column.


edit@kelownacapnews.com

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