In European nations, the occasional riot is still a simple fact of life. The people over there take to the streets if student loan interest is raised a little bit, let alone if their economy teeters on the verge of collapse. Currently, all the news is about the riots underway in the streets of several cities in the U.K. One of the advantages of even low-class hooligans being able to get their hands on a 4G Slide Android phone is that we get to see some pretty unforgettable, yet equally intimidating footage of block-wide fires. With Greece rioting fresh on our minds and the European debt crisis allowing the potential for any member nation of the EU to default and descend into anarchy, those wanting to visit the culturally-supersaturated continent can find themselves hesitating.
Rest assured however. The likelihood of being in some way affected by potential rioting is a statistical improbability. Chances are overwhelming that you’ll instead go to Europe and have a wonderful time. But in the event you find yourself in the middle of a country about to dissolve into insolvency, here’s what you can do:
WATCH THE NEWS
With Internet access you can always keep up-to-date on the news wherever you are. English-language news is sure to cover any sort of increased disturbances in foreign nations. Get a hefty dose of information from multiple news sources; you don’t want to fall prey to sensationalism or a false sense of security.
TALK TO THE LOCALS
Whether it’s your hotel’s front desk clerk or a barista at a cafe with a little English under her belt, if you’re concerned about your safety and the state of social stability in the area, ask someone what’s going on. You’ll generally get a more truthful and specific picture than you would from just watching the news. They can tell you what the real dangers are especially for tourists. They can also fill you in on the background of the hostilities.
READ YOUR PASSPORT/CONTACT CONSULATE
If trouble is without a doubt brewing around you, then look at your passport or look online for instructions provided by the U.S. State Department on what to do in the event of an emergency when traveling abroad. You certainly won’t be the only American with concerns if there are others in the country as well. That means you can either expect anticipatory assistance or a clogged system depending on when you decide to seek help. Help can either be reassurance of your safety or advice on how to salvage currency with lost value.
STAY STREET SMART
Don’t get involved. Whatever the reason or lack thereof riots in the magnitude that we’ve seen recently in the news are the result of deep-seeded domestic drama that foreigners have little to no business getting themselves into. Avoid turning it into a voyeuristic experience, or else you could become a target of individuals fearful of being identified. Refuse to respond to provocation unless your life is in danger. Guests should remain cordial no matter how badly the hosts are behaving.
Otherwise, take it easy and enjoy your time as much as possible. The bigger the riot, the more relevant your travel experience story will be years from now. Look at it as an authentic European experience.