The best time to travel is when most people believe that destination is particularly dangerous.
In Tunisia, for example, the optimal time to visit began about three weeks ago, a few days after the revolution ended.
There is a magical window of opportunity for visitors who go to safe places that most people are afraid to visit. Local people will reach out and treat you like a long relative. My wife, Yolanda, and I have been lucky enough to experience this twice.
The first time was in Spain in late April 1986 a week after the United States bombed Libya. We were warned that as the only American tourists in Spain we would be targets. We were treated like royalty.
The second time was in Manhattan in October 2001. We were scheduled to go to New York in mid-September, where I was to be the auctioneer at the annual Outward Bound Charity Auction. After much soul searching, rather than cancel the event, it was postponed until mid-October.
The auction raised more money than ever before. Yolanda and I literally had the time of our lives. Everyone we met was kinder, more caring, more human than they had ever been before -- as were we.
So how do you know if Tunisia is safe? You can read the State Department Travelers Advisory, but by the time the State Department dares to unequivocally say that a place that use to be dangerous is safe, the country will already be over-crowded.
Here's part of the latest advisory on Tunisia:
February 09, 2011 -- The U.S. Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the potential for ongoing political and social unrest in Tunisia. Unrest has diminished and public order has returned in many areas; however, spontaneous and unpredictable events, such as work stoppages and demonstrations, continue to occur. The U.S. Department of State continues to advise U.S. citizens to defer non-essential travel to the central, western, and southern regions of Tunisia. The situation appears to have stabilized in the coastal touristic zone...
Very reassuring, "The situation appears to have stabilized..." But how do I decide whether Tunisia "appears" to be safe enough to visit? I Skype someone I trust in Tunisia. Here's Jerry Sorkin of Tunis USA.
Now that you know how it really is, if you can get away on short, notice head straight for Tunisia. Think of how thrilling it would be to be part of what is happening there.
Of course, if Tunisia is too far for you, come visit me in Costa Rica. In either country, you'll escape the cold, and by the time you get back home it may well be the best time to go to Egypt.
If you have had similar experiences, please share them.