Confronting the Snakes of this World

March 18, 2012


My decision to travel around the world indefinitely was the easiest decision of my life. Then came the harder one: which country should I visit first? The options were so diverse and equally overwhelming.

Luckily (or maybe unluckily), I have quite a taste for adventure and a love for all things off the beaten track. This spirit helped me resolve my conundrum. “What if,” I pondered, “I challenge myself to visit the most difficult countries in the world to get into and/or travel through?” It was a tempting prospect, one that I couldn’t resist. In a flash I pictured myself as a female version of Indiana Jones, flying over snake pits and rescuing people in distress (with a lasso to boot!).

Photo by puuikibeach

Coming back down to earth, I created the following “To Go” list. These are places that are either 1. Notoriously difficult to gain access to for US passport holders due to complicated visa requirements or other reasons   2. Lacking in tourist infrastructure and/or not user friendly for Western tourists  3. On the US Department of State’s “Travel Warning” list, i.e. potentially (or not so potentially) dangerous

  • Cuba
  • Russia
  • The “Stans” (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan)
  • Burma (Myanmar)
  • Morocco
  • Japan
  • Bhutan
  • India
  • China
  • Angola
  • Brazil
  • Mongolia
  • Ivory Coast
  • Nigeria
  • Colombia
  • Mexico
  • Iraq
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Sudan
  • Philippines
  • Central African Republic
  • Republic of South Sudan
  • Cote d’Ivoire
  • Burundi
  • Eritrea
  • Kenya
  • Guinea
  • Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
  • Iran
  • Mauritania
  • Mali
  • Libya
  • Algeria
  • Yemen
  • Somalia
  • Chad
  • Haiti
  • Niger
  • Saudi Arabia

So there you go. All 28 countries under travel warning that I haven’t visited yet* plus 17 others. Don’t call me crazy just quite yet. In my experience, the harder-to-get-to destinations are usually the most rewarding and most welcoming. In addition, my pre-travel philosophy is “Don’t believe everything you’re told.” It is my belief that, while the Department of State’s travel warnings should be considered carefully, one should not dismiss a destination automatically due to its status on the list. Just because the media and government would have the public believe that there are bomb-toting terrorists lurking around every street corner, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true.

It would be my ultimate goal to make it to all countries on my “To Go” list, though I am not going to recklessly put myself in danger in order to do so. Likewise, I plan to fully research and consider each and every country that appears here. No, I do not have a death wish and, no, I am not masochistic. If it appears dangerous, I won’t go there.

It’s time to give me your feedback…are there any countries you think should be added to the list?

Photo by yuankuei

*Note: There are currently 31 countries on the US Department of State’s travel warning list. The three countries I visited during the time that advisories were in effect were Syria, Lebanon, and Israel/Palestinian Territories in 2011. I have visited Mexico, though it is still on my list because a travel advisory was not in effect at the time I was there.

About Hannah

As a self-professed travel junkie, I have found that the only remedy to my addiction is travel itself. I am in the stages of launching an indefinite journey around the world with no goal other than to explore this small planet called Earth.

View all posts by Hannah

3 Responses to “Confronting the Snakes of this World”

  1. Innocent Bystander Says:

    An interesting mix of countries on that list – Japan seems totally out of place unless it’s there because of the earthquake & tsunami. I picture it being very “westernized” with lots of English speakers.

    How will you decide where to go first? How do you determine “if it appears dangerous”? To us average Americans, most of them sound a little scary.


    • admin Says:

      I picked Japan because I heard from several people that it’s difficult to navigate due to lack of English on signs/maps and lack of people who speak English. If anyone has a different opinion of the country, I would love to hear it though. It’s hard for me to tell of course because I’ve never been there and I have to follow what I have read and what other people have told me.

      I haven’t decided yet what route I will take, though several countries in the Middle East, as well as Cuba, intrigue me the most. To determine whether a place is dangerous or not, I plan on researching in books and on the internet for the latest news from each country. If a country has no tourists whatsoever, there’s obviously a reason for that and it’s probably a no-go for the time being. The key here is research and advice from other travelers. Obviously there is no place that is completely safe, even in Europe and here in the United States. It’s important to use street smarts and know which particular places to avoid.



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