Distinguishing Hyperbole from Fact
Newspapers (whether online or hard copy) make money by selling papers and papers sell because of eye-catching headlines. The existence of social media means that these headlines can now be instantly projected around the world and expanded upon by people who have no first-hand knowledge of the actual situation. The end result is that we are constantly being bombarded with sensationalistic, somewhat frightening news stories. As a traveler, how do you distinguish between all the hyperbole and the honest-to-goodness facts? The UNIGLOBE experts are here to shed a little light.
I’ve been hearing so much about Ebola recently that I’m worried about catching it or something else if I travel.
Flying itself doesn’t generally present a health hazard per se. Following general cleanliness habits - such as hand-washing and the use of anti-bacterial wipes on high contact points like tray tables - will help minimize the dangers of catching something.
A common misconception is that you’ll get sick from breathing the air aboard an aircraft. Aircraft bring in fresh outside air and mix it with the existing cabin air – on modern aircraft the air is completely refreshed about 20 times an hour compared to 12 times an hour in an average office building. The recycled cabin air is also circulated through hospital-grade HEPA filters, which remove 99.97% of bacteria as well as air-born particles carrying viruses.
However, it is important to be aware of the health situation in your travel destination. Being well-informed is the first step in protecting yourself against exposure to any communicable disease. Ensure that you get information from a reliable source rather than social media.
Here are a few suggestions of where to start:
Refer to professional websites such as the Center for Communicable Diseases (CDC) or the State Department for up-to-date advisories.
Speak with a travel medical professional before an overseas trip. Doctors who work at travel medical clinics are informed about the most up-to-date medical issues around the world.
Call your personal physician and ask for their opinion. They’re likely to have more sound advice than one of your Twitter followers.
I’m worried about terrorism threats when I travel.
The world can be a scary place but it always has been. There have always been dangerous people who are looking to harm those who may hold opposing beliefs. The difference is, that due to constant exposure to media, we now hear about situations as they’re happening, rather than weeks after the fact.
If you’re worried about the safety of travel to a specific area of the world, take the time to check out the State Department – Consular Affairs website. Here, you’ll find a list of all the alerts and warnings that the government feels American travelers need to be aware of.
It may still be safe to travel to countries with risk warnings as long as you exercise caution about where you go within the country. The State Department site will include these specific details, which is why it’s important to read information from a reliable source rather than social media headlines, which may label an entire country as being an unsafe destination.
For further guidance in making an informed decision about travel to a potentially dangerous destination, refer to your company’s travel security policy.