For travelers, preparedness and safety can be a matter of life or death. However, the situations and circumstances that actually bring mortal harm to travelers are often those that don't get the attention of the public. While incidents of disease, terrorism, and shark attacks often make headlines, the most common causes of death are not necessarily those that get the attention of the media.
Every year, the United States State Department collects data on Americans who have killed abroad every year.
In 2014, the numbers provided very interesting insights on what threats lie just beyond the borders. Simply put: sharks were the least of traveler's concerns.
Before venturing to a foreign country, it is important to know what situations can directly affect traveler's well-being around the world. These situations have been known to be much more dangerous than shark attacks
Car crashes pose a high threat to travelers
One of the biggest threats to travelers comes not from the sea, but by land. According to the State Department, the most Americans abroad died in 2014 due to automobile accidents.
Their data reports over 225 Americans were reported to the State Department as killed by incidents involving automobiles. These situations included (but were not necessarily limited to) automobile accidents, bus accidents, motorcycle accidents (as either driver or passenger), and accidents involving trains.
Before embarking on a motorists' tour of the world, be sure to be aware of local laws and customs for drivers' in the destination country. In addition to obtaining an international driving permit, travelers must observe all local laws and regulations.
Homicide is a very real threat to travelers
While sharks are known as natural predators, fellow humans provide a much bigger threat around the globe.
In 2014, 174 Americans were reported to the State Department as victims of homicide.
According to the independent analysis by Bloomberg, homicide was a leading cause of death for travelers who decided to stay in the Americas. Some of the most lethal countries in the world are located in Central and South America, including Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, and Guatemala.
Although traveling can be an enriching experience, one wrong turn can make an adventure deadly. For those travelers who know they are heading to a dangerous destination, making a safety plan can result in a fun and memorable journey.
Drowning provides more threat than the sharks below
It is very easy to get caught up in the fear that sharks are one of the biggest threats to travelers on the coast. However, sharks are a rather small threat compared to the water itself.
According to the State Department, 105 Americans traveling abroad were killed by drowning, without being specific as to the circumstances of their death. The most popular locations for drowning deaths included the islands of the Caribbean and the South Pacific.
While a coastal vacation can create wonderful memories, they only count when travelers return home. When planning on coastal vacations, be sure to pay close attention to the local warnings about water conditions, and never swim drunk.
Air accidents, drugs, and selfies can kill
Though it may seem innocuous, events that travelers expose themselves to danger can be just as deadly as the situations out of their control which result in loss of life. In 2014, 140 Americans were killed by a variety situations which included air accidents, drug use, and other accidents.
Among these incidents, 26 Americans were killed by reported drug use at their destination. These deaths mostly occurred in nations where drug laws were much more liberal than the United States, including Laos and Cambodia in Southeast Asia. In addition, 19 Americans were killed in air accidents, which primarily consisted of traveling on local or chartered carriers which may not be compliant with international safety regulations.
The remaining 94 Americans were killed by a number of other situations identified as "other accidents." According to Condé Nast Traveler, one of the rising incidents include deaths from taking selfies.
Through September 2015, as many as 11 international travelers have been killed from trying to capture the perfect vacation selfie.
While travelers are always at risk while abroad, it is imperative to understand the biggest threats to life and health. By understanding these threats more dangerous than sharks, travelers can avoid being in these dangers to begin with.