I hate to add to the sea of articles already swimming around on Donald Trump — but travel is political, whether you like it or not. With the new administration pushing hasty and discriminatory executive orders, Americans are thinking twice about where they’ll be traveling to in the near future, if at all.
Though many of us stand in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters to denounce the hateful rhetoric pervading the air, we need to also be aware of what this means for us if we plan on taking a trip internationally in the next four (hopefully less) years.
If you’ve traveled abroad in the last eight years, you were spoiled to have such a likeable man be the face of our country, with locals shouting in their accents, “Obama, GOOD! Obama, GOOD!” accompanied by an enthusiastic thumbs up. Alas, all good things must come to an end. So here are three things to expect while traveling under the Trump regime.
- You’ll be asked about him everywhere you go
Even though you didn’t vote for him, you’ll find yourself explaining and apologizing on his behalf, trying to actively reverse the tainted image he’s given to 325+ million people. You might even find yourself feeling like you need to overcompensate your kindness, because you don’t want locals to dare think that man represents your morals in the slightest bit.
- Visa costs may go up
Americans are already lucky to have some of the strongest passports in the world, granting us visa-free access to over 170 countries and territories around the globe. But, the harder we make it for targeted countries to travel to the US, the harder they will make it for us. Iran is already keen on prohibiting US citizens entrance into their country, and I don’t blame them.
- Americans may be in danger.
I’m not one to incite unnecessary fear, but think about it — it’s only a matter of time before a man who publicly discredits and criticizes an entire religion for the foolish acts of few, gets retaliation or some kind of lesson in return. This could put US embassies abroad in danger, as well as Americans in general. We’ve played right into the hands of the terrorists, because no targeted hatred for a group of people goes without some kind of consequence.
If you hold dual citizenship and/or will be traveling from any of the seven majority-Muslim countries he’s targeted: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, I would halt booking flights any time soon. The ban as it stands is making it difficult for citizens of these countries to re-enter the U.S. even if they hold legal citizenship or resident status here. Families have been separated and many people are left in limbo. If you’re already safe and sound here in the states, stay put until further notice. Though a Federal Court judge has temporarily overturned the ban, there’s no telling how quickly it could be reinforced.
There’s also deep concern from other regions like the Caribbean, who feel like they could be next, as they have substantial Muslim populations in places like Guyana, Trinidad and Jamaica. The African Union recently criticized the ban which also prohibits refugees from three of Africa’s Muslim majority countries – Libya, Somalia and Sudan. While Caribbean countries have little to worry about, for now, travel to/from the Continent can possibly get increasingly tricky in the future. Something else we’ll have to keep our eyes on.
And though Trump hardly represents the morale, compassion or heart of true Americans, we’ve been dealt the ugliest hand in the deck, because by default, he’s become the new face and representation of our country. It’ll almost be impossible for a foreigner to think of the United States without the negative image of our president accompanying it. While he may have that fancy title and the Oval Office, we the people have the power to continue using our First Amendment right to condemn and resist any fascist governing he tries to implement.
This country was built off the backs of slaves and further developed by immigrants, so don’t for a second buy into the idea that immigrants are the problem — nor Muslims either. I encourage you to not let his presidency stop you from traveling. Use these troubled times to continue exploring and use your travels as an opportunity to be a U.S. ambassador and show the world what real American values look like.
And in the case you’re still banging your head against the wall (note: a normal wall in a room, not a racist one on the southern border) in full blown denial about this situation, know that 99% of the world is joining you in spirit.
Gloria Atanmo is an author and travel blogger at TheBlogAbroad.com where she details her adventures through 45 countries across 5 continents. Expensive dreams with an affordable hustle, she uses her digital storytelling to inspire others to get out there and see the world for themselves. You can follow her daily adventures on Instagram.