Travelling to dangerous places: 5 things you need to know

Travel agent offers tips on how to stay safe when travelling through sketchy areas, after a Vancouver couple was detained for 36 hours by a mob of angry protesters in Peru.

Vancouver couple was detained for 36 hours by a mob of angry protesters in Peru

Travel tips for Canadians after a Vancouver couple was detained by a protesters in Peru. (Tom Hanson/The Canadian Press)

The detainment of a Vancouver couple by a mob of angry protestors while on a tour of Manu Park in Peru has prompted one local travel agent to remind travellers to be on extra alert when travelling to developing countries.

Angela Skipper and Matisse Facchin, both 27, weren't aware of the ongoing local dispute over construction of a logging road in the park. 

"They handled it well, I blame it on the tour guide," said Brad Davies, managing partner at Virtually There Travel. 

But he says there are safety measures travellers should take before heading into countries in the developing world. 

Here are Davies' top five tips for safe travel:

1. Register with the Canadian consulate:

If you are travelling independently, register in advance with the Canadian consulate, says Davies. The consulate will keep you in the loop with alerts or changes to threat levels for the areas you are visiting. In case of a natural disaster or unrest the consulate would be aware.

2. Beware of medical coverage zones:

Davies warns travellers can inadvertently void their medical coverage if they go to areas that are deemed dangerous by Canada's foreign affairs department. He says there are four levels of danger issued by the department. If you enter a Level Three zone your medical coverage is questionable and if you enter a Level Four, it is void.

3. Book with Canadian companies:

Work with reputable tour operators and have those arrangements made in Canada, says Davies. He says there is a higher level of scrutiny and duty of care in Canada. If you book a local tour in a foreign country, you have to exercise greater degree of caution, because there are not the same checks and balances or legal recourse as in Canada, he says.

4. Do your own research:

Before travelling make sure you do your homework, says Davies. He advises travellers to check with the Canadian, U.S. and Australian departments of foreign affairs for advisories as well as use Trip Advisor and take a travel guide book along.  

5. Stay on top of your game:

Davies says listen to your gut and look for red flags. Go to Internet cafes often for updates in the news, check various tourism boards to see if the operator you have signed up with is on the list of recommended operators and talk to other tourists for information. 

To hear the full interview listen to the audio labelled Tips when travelling to dangerous places with the CBC's Rick Cluff on The Early Edition.


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