Just for fun, I was looking at exotic places to travel. In looking at UNESCO heritage sites, the ancient and fascinating city of Timbuktu came up. But in looking at travel advisories to Mali, uhhhh – yeah.
The US State Department Travel has a great website with travel advisories for every country around the world. They have a rating system from 1-4. Right now, Mali (where Timbuktu is located) is a 4 due to crime, terrorism, and kidnapping. But I mean, how bad can it really be? I bet they’re over-exaggerating. Let’s read the description
Terrorist and armed groups continue plotting kidnappings and attacks in Mali. They may attack with little or no warning, targeting locations frequented by foreigners. The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens throughout much of Mali as U.S. government employee travel outside Bamako is restricted due to security concerns.
Well, that’s not encouraging. But I’ve traveled abroad a lot and get along with just about everyone by being cool, respectful, and staying low-key. How bad could it be right? Let’s continue reading the advisory…
If you decide to travel to Mali:
- Draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries and/or power of attorney.
- Discuss a plan with loved ones regarding care/custody of children, pets, property, belongings, non-liquid assets (collections, artwork, etc.), funeral wishes, etc.
- Share important documents, login information, and points of contact with loved ones so that they can manage your affairs if you are unable to return as planned to the United States.
- Establish your own personal security plan in coordination with your employer or host organization, or consider consulting with a professional security organization.
- Develop a communication plan with family and/or your employer or host organization so that they can monitor your safety and location as you travel through high-risk areas. This plan should specify whom you would contact first and how they should share the information.
- Identify key sources of possible assistance for you and your family in case of emergency, such as the local U.S. embassy or consulate, FBI, the State Department, your employer (if traveling on business), and local friends/family in the high-risk area.
- Be sure to appoint one family member to serve as the point of contact with hostage-takers, media, U.S. and host country government agencies, and Members of Congress if you are taken hostage or detained.
- Establish a proof of life protocol with your loved ones so that, if you are taken hostage, your loved ones will know specific questions and answers to ask the hostage-takers to be sure you are alive and to rule out a hoax.
- Leave DNA samples with your medical provider in case it is necessary for your family to access them.
Uhhhhh – yeah. Not traveling to Mali anytime soon.