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Just posted online: part 3 of the Washington Post's "Hazard Above" investigative series on drones. Based on the premise that drones are "set to become a widespread reality in American skies," the Post spent a year investigating whether pilotless plane thingys will accidentally kill everybody. Over 50,000 pages of accident and other records were apparently examined and, indeed, it does turn out that we're all going to die.
We're paraphrasing and exaggerating for effect, of course, but not really.
Mom and cub lounging in the savanna of the Masai Mara
The situation in Kenya has certainly not improved since our visit a few months ago in April, when we explored one of the world's top safari regions and feasted on game meat. At the time, we penned our thoughts on whether it's safe to visit Kenya, concluding that the safari regions were as removed from the threats in Nairobi and Mombasa as Upstate New York is from New York City.
Things have definitely not stabilized since, and, to be honest, it doesn't sound like the situation is under control or getting better by any stretch of the imagination. The Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) has scrambled to ensure tourists that the attacks are not near or directed at at foreign facilities or tourist zones, but that reassurance has convinced few as many would-be visitors cancel their trips and tourism numbers continue to suffer. We can't blame those who cancel at this point, especially given this statement by the Somalia-based Al Shabab militant group that once again declared Kenya a "war zone" and warned foreigners that they were not safe:
In response to a number of muggings and attacks against Chinese tourists, it was announced today that the French government has called upon the Chinese police force to help patrol the streets of Paris this summer. According to reports, at least ten Chinese police officers will help strengthen the security at popular tourist spots and public transportation hubs. They will also help translate between Chinese tourists and local police offers.
We cover a lot within the travel industry, but this has to be one of the most significant stories we've seen in a long time. The implications and fallout of this industry first are absolutely huge, and it goes to show how far countries are willing to go in order to get a piece of the world's largest tourism market. Reading between the lines, it seems like this is a move by France to appease China and keep the tour buses coming. Last year, 1.5 million Chinese tourists visited France, and that number is expected to increase by 40% this year after France relaxed its visa process.
Africa Travel / Mailbag / Kenya Travel / Nairobi Travel / Masai Mara / Safari Travel / Laikipia Travel / Travel Safety / → All Tags
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Those who have been following the news are aware that Kenya has been the target of Somali terrorist groups and, obviously, the attacks have been incredibly heartbreaking. Considering we are covering so much of the good coming out of Kenya, this writer doesn't think it's fair to leave that elephant completely out of the conversation. Admittedly, before deciding to make the journey from my home in Denver, I too wondered if it was safe to visit Kenya.
On my trip it was confirmed that, in terms of taking a safari, the answer is absolutely yes it is safe. The risk of danger in the national reserve areas like the Masai Mara and Laikipia are no greater than encountering a problem in any of America's national parks. Like here in the States, terrorism in Kenya has thus far been limited to populated places like Nairobi and Mombasa.
"One is an example. Two is a coincidence. Three is a trend."
Something has been troubling us lately. Recent footage and images of emergency aircraft evacuations show passengers consciously disobeying flight crew commands to leave their luggage onboard. Fools are grabbing carry-ons and shopping bags, hopping down the emergency slides with them, and running for their lives.
Granted, emergency landings and evacuations are an extremely rare occurrence and it's likely you'll never have to experience one. Still, should you find yourself queuing up to shimmy out an emergency exit, please remember to put the well-being of fellow passengers before that of your duty-free impulse buys.
Take, for instance, the tragic incidence of the Asiana 214 crash landing at SFO last year. Video footage of the evacuation (as the plane burns!) has passengers running with armloads of bags. Several bags are clearly from duty-free shops. To say this is embarrassing is a gross understatement, especially considering three passengers lost their lives.
Travel Safety / Thailand Travel / Phuket Travel / Passports / MH370 / Crimes / → All Tags
An entire weekend has passed since the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and, in that time, the only news of any consequence has been that at least two passengers onboard were traveling under false identities, using stolen passports.
No aircraft, wreckage, emergency calls, or anything to decipher the mystery has been found.
What we have now is a world distressed by the use of these stolen passports, both swiped in the last two years while the original owners (who are alive still) were visiting the popular vacation destination of Phuket, Thailand. Phuket is an island towards the south of Thailand, much nearer to the border with Malaysia than the Thai capital of Bangkok.
Bangkok Travel / Thailand Travel / Protests / Travel Tips / Political Travel / Travel Safety / Travel Alerts / → All Tags
Last time we checked-in on the political protests happening in Bangkok, a few airlines had reduced service to the Thai capital. Even though there's no immediate cessation of anti-government protests in the near future, can travelers still consider Bangkok as a safe destination this season?
Interestingly enough, Thai Airways hasn't said much when it comes to reduced flights or travel waivers. There is a warning on their website that, due to road closures, they recommend leave 4 hours early before a scheduled flight. Apart from that, operations are running as per normal and as if nothing was actually happening in the city center.
Having a passport is a big, frickin' deal. Just think about ita flimsy notebooky thing contains all your necessary personal data to allow you to show up on almost any foreign shore demanding admittance for tourism. What's more is that these things are valid for ten years. Ten years. That means that at no point in ten years can you spill coffee on it, use it to steady the leg of a wobbly table, or absentmindedly leave it behind in a hotel room safe. Replacing it isn't fun, and neither is being without it completely.
Thus, to avoid any mishaps and keep you always at the ready to hit the road, here's our top tips on What NOT to do with your passport::
Whether you're a frequent flyer or an armchair traveler, there are certain details it's nice to review before making plans for that next big trip. Every week, we'll squeeze our mindgrapes and share tips to make sure you're the best informed flyer in seat 1A...or 38K.
This Week: The 5 Things Everyone Should Do Before Leaving for the Airport
September 11 / TSA / Security / Delta / LAX / SLC / COD / Air New Zealand / Airport Security / Travel Safety / → All Tags
This week, America observed the 12th Anniversary of September 11 and, as with every passing year, reflecting back on that autumn day still means a somber sadness. This year, one Jaunted contributor took to the skies on September 11, boarding three different planes in three different airports while heading overseas. These are his observations.
· First flight: Delta Connection from Cody, Wyoming to Salt Lake City
This is a small regional airport where there is only one security lane and a grand total of two different flights per day. Check-in was as per normal, but the security line was a bit longer and slower than we're used to seeing. We can't be too sure if this is due to a temporary uptick in traveler numbers or a more vigilant TSA staff for the day.
Travel Tips / Travel Safety / Travel News / Autumn Travel / Tragedies / September 11 / Terrorism / New York City / US Travel / → All Tags
It's that time of the year again, when two powerful lights take up their brief residence in lower Manhattan to remember the thousands of lives lost during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. This year marks the twelfth anniversary of the attacks, but the tenth for the lights themselves. Officially the installation is called "Tribute in Light," and it takes 88 searchlights to form the seemingly never-ending beams. Nearly every year they've appeared was said to be the last, but here they are still.
Tomorrow and through this upcoming weekend, expect lower Manhattan to be heavily policed, and hordes of visitors to descend upon the area around the 9/11 Memorial.
If you just want to see the lights, however, they're perfectly visible from popular tourist sites such as the Staten Island Ferry and Empire State Building visitor deck. Also, search the #TributeinLight hashtag on Instagram for hundreds of images.
Thailand Travel / Travel Safety / Tourist Court / Crimes / Travel News / Pattaya Travel / → All Tags
Regardless of how this all plays out and whether or not you believe it's the best way to go about it, you’ve got to hand it to them: Despite the fact that most tourists have no problems in Thailand, that certainly isn’t stopping the country from taking complaints seriously.
Last week, in what could be a benchmark move for the travel industry, a pilot “tourist court” was launched in Pattaya to help mediate “small claims” from tourists. While there have been a few mainstream cases to come out of Thailand over the past few years, this court will be responsible for handling more mundane disputes, including rip-offs and robberies. “Serious” offenses, like getting your tail whipped by a gang or something, will still be handled by the regular judicial system.
This move comes in response to the ever-growing amount of problems with tourists being scammed by tourism operators, including jet ski and car rental companies, taxi drivers and tuk-tuks.