They say travel broadens the mind and expands the spirit and I certainly hope so – I’ve got two trips abroad planned before August.
While one of the trips involves seeing two friends tie the knot in Spain, the other feels like I’m about to step into a scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
For I’m about to jet off to Egypt but given the country’s political turmoil my travel plans have raised a few eyebrows among family and friends.
It might be a popular holiday destination but for many others it’s not a destination of choice – the recent hot air balloon tragedy put paid to that!
But is it just that Egypt gets a bad press?
Should the country be doing more to PR itself?
The country advertises itself as ‘A first class getaway resort in the Red Sea Riviera’ and waxes lyrical about the ‘stunning colossal monuments’ and the ‘magic, mystery and pleasures’ of Egypt. (www.egypt.travel)
But I, and the friend I’m travelling with, are not naïve and we knew Pharoah country doesn’t come with glowing references – instead it comes with lots of preconceptions.
So we did our homework – we’ve checked recommended safety zones and talked to people who have visited the country before. We’ve also trawled through websites and online forums checking out what we should – and more importantly – what we shouldn’t do!
It was very clear that Egypt remains under a ‘high threat’ of terrorism however what we also found was that lots of people report it having excellent levels of security in the resorts – I guess it’s just the day-to-day risks involved in travelling to a politically unstable country, and the cultural differences which puts many holiday makers off.
But we refuse to be deterred!
We will not be deterred by the bizarre holiday insurance situation – several insurance companies class Egypt as ‘Europe’. We’ve yet to figure out why!
And we will not be deterred by the crime statistics, which make for grim reading – ‘66 arrests for a variety of offences; 20 cases of sexual assault and six cases of rape’ were recorded against Brits in 2011, and that’s to say nothing of the incidents which required hospitalisation or resulted in death. (www.fco.gov.uk)
However, these statistics need to be put into context, and with around one million British tourists travelling to Egypt each year, the number of Brits who needed consular assistance in 2011 is tiny.
We will also not be deterred by the country’s conservative’ attitudes towards the Western culture of wearing very little whilst soaking up the sun. We’ll just remember to cover up our modesty more than we would in Majorca or Malaga!
However what we won’t be doing is following the advice we found on Tripadvisor.co.uk that suggests women travelling alone should wear a ring on their wedding finger to avoid personal questions and ‘accidental gropings’.
What we intend to do is emerge ourselves in the culture of the country – we can’t wait to see the Pyramids, ride a camel and experience all the sights, sounds, smells and tastes that Egypt has to offer.
And then we’ll make up our own minds!