Gender and age drive the biggest differences in travel concerns among travelers, according to results from the annual 2020 Global Rescue Travel Safety Survey.

“The Global Rescue 2020 Travel Safety Survey reveals unexpected travel safety concern disparities between genders and among the generations,” Global Rescue CEO Dan Richards said.

Among the top survey findings:

Travel Ahead

Consistent with results over the past several years, the majority of respondents (95%) are likely to travel in 2020, either domestically or internationally.

Most (85%) are concerned about travel safety. The breakdown: 25% of respondents are “concerned” or “very concerned,” 51% are “somewhat concerned” while 10% are “not concerned” about their travel safety in 2020.

Travel Safety_2

For the last three years, this percentage has remained relatively stable: 87% in 2019 and 84% in 2018.

Worries about travel have become second nature.

“We have safety concerns when we stay home — if we go to a shopping mall or a movie theatre or religious service or places in our everyday life. I have concerns for my safety every time I go on the freeway — with all the traffic accidents and crazy people driving — but I still get in my car,” says a Global Rescue member from Berkeley, California. “Concerns about safety appear, unfortunately, to be a part of life at this time.”

Will (Probably) Not Change Plans

Although there might be unease about travel, most travelers (91%) say those concerns will not impact their plans.

“The travel must be done,”
said a Global Rescue member from Alma, Missouri.

“Can’t be grounded by fear,”
said a member from Clancy, Montana.

The 2020 survey found today’s travelers are planning and researching — taking precautions and adjusting expectations — so they can enjoy their adventures. According to one respondent, you simply need to minimize your hazards.

Travel Safety_5

“In my case, my overseas travel will be via reputable airlines and cruise companies, traveling to places with low risk percentages of incidents. I still, though, subscribe to Global Rescue as my ‘back up’ because I feel assured with Global Rescue that if anything happened, in the states or abroad, they would be my best ally,” said a member from Tyler, Texas.

Personal and Family vs. Business Travel

Younger respondents (ages 25 to 39) are more worried about personal travel (31%) while older demographics — ages 40 to 49 — are more worried about family travel (35%).

“I think all of us are much more protective of our spouses and children than we are ourselves,”
said a member from Charleston, South Carolina.

Across age demographics, a little more than 30% of respondents were “not concerned” about business travel and less than 2% were “very concerned.”

Travel Safety_3

Business travel may be less of a fear due to duty of care obligations of employers.

“I have a whole global security department at work to keep me safe and secure while traveling on business. So for my personal/family travel, the concern for safety and security falls on me, not work,” says a member from The Woodlands, Texas.

Global Hot Spots

The Middle East is the region most troubling to travelers with 56% reporting they would be “very concerned” making a trip there.

“The Middle East gets a bad rap,” said Matt Napiltonia, a Global Rescue senior operations manager and former Navy SEAL. “There are places you just can’t go, like Syria and Iraq. But Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Israel, the UAE and other areas are great and relatively safe compared to other places.”

Trips to Asia (25%) and Africa (22%) were the next most worrisome for travelers. Sixty-four percent of travelers said they were “not concerned” about going to North America.

Europe Feels Safer

Concerns about traveling to Europe have decreased. The travel survey found 74% were worried about European travel in 2018, 66% in 2019 and 58% in 2020.

“Travel safety is a concern to me but not as high as other items on your list mainly because of where I’m going this year: Spain (1 trip) and Canada (2 trips),” said a Global Rescue member from Wyckoff, New Jersey. “Neither are risk-prone countries as defined by the U.S. State Department and are pretty tame from a personal risk perspective.”

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Top Travel Threats

Travelers listed health/medical issues and street crime as the greatest personal threats while traveling, followed by terrorism, traffic accidents, civil unrest and – more than halfway down the list – cyber security.

Global Rescue security experts believe cyber security should be a higher concern. “It takes less than two minutes to draw everything off your laptop or smartphone,” said Napiltonia. “Public Wi-Fi is not secure.” 

One respondent agreed the concern should be elevated among travelers.

“Cybercrime is a big concern, especially identity and credit card theft. I have had both hacked while traveling, and the pain and suffering to fix the mess it creates was staggering,” said a Global Rescue member from Texas.

Everyone Overpacks

It’s a given across the board — any age, male, female, single, married — everyone (75% of respondents) overpacks for a trip. The percentage does decrease with age: 100% of 25 and younger travelers overpacked while only 84% of travelers ages 30 to 39 stuffed their suitcase.

Other Interesting Stats And Facts

  • Travelers ages 25 to 39 are the only demographic worried about natural disasters on their travels (11%).

    “Although we had quite the roll of natural disasters in 2019, the threat is still low,” says Jake Johnson, a Global Rescue operations supervisor.

  • Travelers ages 40 to 49 are the only demographic worried about traffic accidents on trips (23%). This is actually a safety risk that should concern everyone. The CDC reports 1.3 million people are killed in motor vehicle crashes worldwide, with nearly half of medical evacuations back to the United State as a result of a car crash.

    “Traffic accidents are the number one thing I see in all places, good and bad,” Napiltonia said.“The likelihood is high compared to an earthquake or terrorist event.”

  • Older travelers are less likely to go on an adventure without services from providers like Global Rescue. In the age 25-39 demographic, 49% travel without a service like Global Rescue, but this percentage drops to 31% for travelers over 60.
  • Men are about 50% more concerned than women about family travel.
  • Travelers under age  40 believe “health/medical issues” are the greatest threat (40%) while touring and exploring, compared to only 29% of travelers between 40 to 60 years old.


About the Survey

The annual 2020 Global Rescue Travel Safety Survey was conducted Jan. 22-28, 2020. The study results are based on a survey of 2,400 Global Rescue members.