Beware Sensationalist Headlines, Travel Edition

As Civ Mix’s self-appointed travel expert – I am a professional travel advisor, after all – I feel the need to clear the air on a few travel-related news items I see circulating the airwaves that are more click bait than actual news.

First off, I get a chuckle every time a news organization – including CivMix itself (Editor’s Note: guilty as charged) – reports on the newly proposed “SkyRider” seats being marketed by Italian aviation seat designers Avio.

Nothing gets a rise out of travelers more than the idea of the airline industry further reducing the precious and ever-declining inches of in-flight space.

It’s true that the airline industry is increasingly focused on servicing the needs of its investors rather than addressing the concerns and comfort of its passengers. However, before you get up in arms about the greedy corporate bigwigs squeezing every iota of pleasure out of flying by making us stand in the back of the plane on roller coaster seats, you have to read a little bit further.

For starters, no airline has yet purchased a contract for said seats. Also, the FAA is highly unlikely to approve the seats, because cramming people into tight-fitting spaces, while perhaps great for maximizing profitability, is certainly not maximizing safety.

These seats are actually designed for short haul flights. So, if they ever are installed, it’s a safe bet you won’t be jammed in like a sardine on an eight-hour flight to Barcelona. However, it’s possible you could be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with a stranger for a 45-minute flight from Rome to Milan, Chicago to Milwaukee, Tokyo to Kyoto or quite possibly Albany to New York City.

I don’t know about you, but if I could get to New York City in a mere 45 minutes from my quaint little neighborhood airport for a great value, and all I had to do was lean in moderate discomfort for that period, I would seriously consider it.

Of course, you still have to factor in the headaches and time spent parking, going through security, and getting from the airport to your final destination.

And you know what? I’d still consider it.

My guess, however, is that rather than flying, the travel industry is getting you mentally prepared for when you see Avio sell this seat design to Elon Musk and his hyperloops – or, better yet, in self-driving cars.

The second story I feel I must quickly debunk is the perfect storm currently rolling over the popular resort destination, the Dominican Republic.

There is far too much negative media dedicated to traveling to the Dominican right now to possibly address it all. But the ratio of incidents to the number of travelers is still excessively low, and the number of deaths is well within the annual average.

For the record, the top cause of death among Americans traveling overseas is actually motor vehicle accidents, which claimed the 167 lives last year – almost 4,000 since 2002, and about one-third of all deaths in the period.

Part of what makes travel exciting is that it is an adventure. Yes, there is an element of danger involved, which is why you should be smart. I can tell that in most cases, the headline-generating incidents in the Dominican have involved some decidedly not smart decisions – like buying prescription drugs, wandering off the beaten path, and drinking a lot of dubiously sourced alcohol.

Yes, there are some bad things happening. But I hazard to guess that if a certain former baseball icon hadn’t been shot in the back while in the DR, these stories would have not filtered to the top of the news.

When traveling to most countries outside of US, Canada, Western Europe, Japan and Australia, it is highly recommended that you take preventative measures to protect yourself from the risk of hepatitis A, Typhoid and Cholera.

This is often overlooked for those quick weekend getaways at resorts that are just a short flight away.

If you’re planning on drinking, be vigilant, and watch out for your fellow traveler. Also, important: Try to observe your drink being made. Also, avoid those full bottles of liquor hanging upside down on your wall, and focus on drinking from bottles and cans that you either open yourself or can see being opened in front of you.

When you travel, you have to be smart. Here’s a plug: A good travel planner can help you prepare before departure, and also can help you from afar in times of trouble. Most importantly, don’t believe everything you read in the headlines – the truth or something resembling it is often buried far deeper in the story.



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *