If you’re ever caught in a riot while traveling, here are some tips learned while I was in Athens last year during their protests. As you’re no doubt aware, a year later, Greece is again full of strife. With this news comes that predictable riot dog article, which seems to regularly make the rounds. We thought it’d be prudent to give you some basic tips for traveling in countries that may experience significant political turmoil during your stay.
- Check what the U.S. State Department website is advising
Keep in mind that these warnings are very conservative, but they’re still worth consulting as your prepare for your trip.
- Be aware of local culture, behave & dress accordingly
That is, don’t draw attention to yourself. This especially goes for situations where the riots may have anti-Western undertones (or overtones). If you’re from the USA, no matter where you’re traveling outside of the country, it’s always a good idea to leave the American Flag t-shirts at home.
- Employees at your hotel or hostel will be your guides
Some days, it may just make more sense to stay in. Don’t hesitate to ask whomever is working the front desk about what protests are planned for today, what time, and where. They’ll know. And since their livelihood depends on tourists, they’ll advise you accordingly about going outside. One more reason to tip well.
- Know where your embassy is (along with copies of your passport)
If it gets that bad, you’ll be able to find refuge in your country’s embassy. If your country’s embassy is the target of protestors, an ally’s embassy may be a safer option for sanctuary.
- If you get teargassed and/or peppersprayed
Your eyes will burn, tear profusely (obviously), your nose will run, and you may lose awareness. It’s rather good at what it does. Move calmly away from the action – upwind if you can – and get yourself indoors.
Flush your eyes (don’t touch!) with water (or water and ~5% baking soda if you’ve got it) and get under a cold shower. Your clothes will need to stay outside for a day, too. Wash them a few times with cold water.
Be safe, hipmunks. And on that note, we’ll be reporting from Cairo next week.