Should you visit a country that’s advised against all travel to?

Admittedly I’m a bit of an adventure junkie, but I also know not to believe everything I read or see in the media. Having visited some of the world’s most dangerous countries during uprisings and civil wars I can confirm that if you plan properly, a visit can be done safely.

Obviously every situation is unique and I’d strongly advise that you seek individual information before you proceed to a war zone, you could potentially make things worse by creating an additional problem.

Well, there’s no simple or easy answer to this question. It’s simply a curiosity that often overtakes your emotions and you get the urge to visit.

Beirut Graffiti

Beirut Graffiti

Lebanon is a key example of somewhere that has areas that are currently advised against all travel to. Having visited in October 2015 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advised against all travel to the Bekka valley region but after hiring a local guide I opted to ignore the advice.

Stupid? Maybe…

Thankfully for me everything was okay. Its a volatile region, things change daily and as long as you follow local advice then you should be fine. Driving through Hezbollah-held towns and coming within 5km of the Syrian border where refugees are escaping the civil war was certainly a daunting experience.

Discover my Lebanese adventure here.

I'd never have believed if somebody had me questioning which city was more dangerous but sadly I think right now Baghdad might be slightly more secure than Damascus.

I’d never have believed if somebody had me questioning which city was more dangerous but sadly I think right now Baghdad might be slightly more secure than Damascus.

I’m one of the lucky ones to have visited Syria just before the war started, although nothing appeared to be wrong clearly under the surface things were brewing.

These days Syria is sadly one of the most dangerous countries in the world, seeing places I visited and loved in the news everyday is rather depressing. I didn’t know a huge amount about the country before I visited, but I came away with some of my best travel memories. I’ll never forget the day I woke up at 4am at a hotel in Palmyra where water was dripping from the lights, I could smell gas everywhere and I thought the air conditioning unit was going to give me Legionnaires disease. Could it get worse? Well no, thankfully I then hopped on my camel and went for a ride around the ancient ruins of Palmyra just as the sun was rising.

Ancient ruins of Palmyra

Syria is one place right now that I’d simply say is totally off-limits, do not attempt to enter the country or you know what things might happen.

Find out what Syria was like pre-war, you’ll be amazed! 

Kiev's Independence Square was still occupied when I visited, however it should now be back to normal.

Kiev’s Independence Square was still occupied when I visited, however it should now be back to normal.

When problems first begin to arise, most people usually cancel their holiday. Not me!

I’d wanted to visit Ukraine for a number of years, a fascinating and diverse country in Europe that always intrigued me. Thankfully I got the opportunity to visit in early 2014, sadly for me the civil unrest was in full swing.

Staying at Hotel Ukraine that overlooked Independence Square certainly proved an interesting place to stay, no cars were able to drive through due to the protesters, you were never sure what bangs were fireworks or worse and being a foreigner, people treated you with a great deal of suspicion.

Thankfully for me visiting Ukraine was one of my best trips, click here and find out what parts of the country I explored. 

Is it a risk worth taking?

Weigh up the risks, take all the necessary precautions and at the end of the day its your decision. Be aware that by visiting areas deemed “advise against all travel” you pretty much void your travel insurance!

Where should your next trip be…

If you’d be interested in visiting a unique destination with me, choose from one of the following and join me on a tour, please let me know and I can set this up:

  • Afghanistan
  • Yemen (Socotra)
  • Mauritania
  • Chad
  • Democratic Republic of Congo

Further Information

You can visit my Facebook page and please don’t forget to ‘Like’ Travel Geek UK.

3 thoughts on “Should you visit a country that’s advised against all travel to?

  1. Everyone told me not to go to Turkey alone because it was too dangerous but my experience was all positive. I obviously wouldn’t go to a country in the middle of a war or anything but I think that for the most part if you are travelling somewhere “dangerous” you just need to be respectful and cautious.

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