Northern Africa and the Middle East is a part of the globe rich with human history, and therefore a fascinating destination to visit. It is also a region prone to be very volatile, and we saw that again this week. Deadly protests that began in Libya and Egypt at the start of the week have, as of Friday morning, spread across northern Africa and parts of the Middle East.
Which, for our purposes, should give pause to would-be travelers to the region. So, is it safe to travel to the Middle East right now?
Frankly, it’s hard to say because the situation seems to be growing, and advice at this very moment might be different 12 hours from now. Some people are calling for an out-and-out boycott of traveling to Egypt. That seems unlikely, and as Katia Hetter reports at CNN, veteran world travelers are not easily deterred. If you intend to forge ahead with plans to travel to the Middle East and northern Africa, you need to be sure to:
- Pay attention to news developments, which can change rapidly.
- Be aware of local customs so that you don’t unknowingly cross a line.
- Get to know local people while you’re there; knowledge creates understanding.
If the Middle East is a little too precarious for your tastes right now, how about space? The New York Times’ Jesse McKinley reports that space tourism is now a reality. Granted, it costs a fortune – $200,000 for just two hours in orbit (even Gilligan got a three hour tour!), but it’s here. And USA Today’s Ben Mutzabaugh reports that adventure entrepreneur Richard Branson believes that many airplane flights will soon move through space, something he predicts will greatly increase the speed of travel.
There have been plenty of studies about the health benefits of drinking wine. But you won’t hear about them in the European Union. The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that a label description about reduced acidity that makes wine more digestible is illegal. EU law prohibits health claims on labels for alcoholic beverages.
We write a lot about exercising while on vacation. How about getting in a run before you hop on the plane? Like, right before. Next month, there’s a 5K run on the runway at LaGuardia Airport. Cool.
USA Today’s Gary Stoller reports that travelers are embracing tablets and leaving behind their laptops.
And if you’re looking for a different expat experience, you might want to consider something that will get you back to nature and help save an endangered species. Chengdu, China has launched Panda Quest – a search for three “panda ambassadors” to look after pandas in Chengdu and raise global awareness of China’s iconic animal.