Please find below a travel safety calendar for the upcoming month, as well as travel tips, analysis and guidance to help keep you safe wherever you are travelling around the world.
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December is a month of travel for many people, especially around Hanukah, Christmas and New Year with millions of people crossing countries and international borders to spend time with family. Be aware that in the northern hemisphere, wintry conditions can have a negative impact on many people’s travel plans so keep an eye on the weather and be prepared to alter your plans as necessary.
There are one or two political trends taking place in different parts of the world which might also affect travel plans. The situation in Zimbabwe remains calm but unstable as the country enters a transition period and looks to a future without the leadership of Mugabe. Keep an eye on the situation and be prepared to act if things deteriorate, although if they do, any violence is not likely to become widespread at short notice. It is more likely that incidents will be very localised, in which case the best advice will likely be to stay indoors or out of sight until the situation calms down again. It won’t harm to stay stocked up with essential items just in case.
That advice is definitely applicable in Kenya, where the opposition remains angry about the recent electoral win of Uhuru Kenyatta. The president is due to be sworn in on December 12th, which you will notice in the key dates below is also Kenya’s Independence Day. Emotions are likely to be high around the date with a real risk of violent unrest, particularly in areas of strong opposition support, such as Kisumu and parts of the capital. Avoid large crowds.
Potentially violent elections are also taking place in Asia and Latin America this month. The opposition has boycotted the municipal polls due to take place on December 10th in Venezuela and there is a possibility of demonstrations which could definitely turn violent surrounding the event. Violence is also a distinct possibility in Nepal on December 7th as the country takes part in the second stage of national elections, although it is not likely to have a direct impact on the majority of the usual tourist parts of the country.
Seasonal weather changes
In the northern hemisphere, December marks the approximate start of winter, while in the southern hemisphere, it marks the approximate start of summer, with notable temperature changes, particularly felt in the more seasonal temperate regions. In the northern hemisphere in particular, this can result in extreme conditions and travel disruption.
It is normally around December that parts of West Africa also begin to experience more frequent dusty Harmattan winds, a trend which usually last until March. They are particularly felt in Niger, Burkina Faso, western Chad, northern Ghana, northern Nigeria, northern Benin, northern Togo, eastern Cote D’Ivoire as well as further west and south of these areas to a lesser but still noticeable degree, having an impact on visibility and respiratory conditions among other things.
The following countries and territories also mark notable climatic changes this month:
Christmas Island: the rainy season begins and usually lasts until April.
Japan: the typhoon season comes to an end (although typhoons can still sporadically occur).
Kosovo: snowfall can be particularly heavy this month, but it normally eases from the end of the year.
Mauritius: there is a particularly high risk of cyclones from mid-December to March (although they only usually occur once every few years)
Philippines: the typhoon season comes to an end (although they can still sporadically occur)
Sierra Leone: the rainy season usually ends this month
Sri Lanka: the north-eastern monsoon usually begins in December and lasts until March
Timor Leste: the rainy season usually begins this month and lasts until April
There are also several events taking place on specific dates this coming month:
Uzbekistan: Constitution Day
Christianity: Feast of the Immaculate Conception
Tanzania: Independence Day
Burkina Faso: National Day
Malta: Republic Day
Judaism: Hanukah begins
Bhutan: National Day
Japan: Birthday of the Emperor
Libya: Independence Day
Christianity: Christmas Eve
Taiwan: Constitution Day
Christianity: Christmas Day
Australia: Proclamation Day
Christianity: St. Stephen’s Day/Boxing Day
Cayman Islands: Public holiday
Philippines: Rizal Day
Azerbaijan: International Solidarity Day
Worldwide: New Year’s Eve