Unrest in Egypt Disrupts Travel Plans Locally

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Anti-government protesters scatter after police fired tear gas at them during a demonstration in downtown Cairo, Egypt Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011. Thousands of anti-government protesters, some hurling rocks and climbing atop an armored police truck, clashed with riot police Tuesday in the center of Cairo in a Tunisia-inspired demonstration to demand the end of Hosni Mubarak's nearly 30 years in power. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

    The unrest overseas is translating into some travel trouble for people in the D.C. area.

    Long-planned trips to Cairo are being canceled as local students studying abroad are still trying to get back to the U.S. Travel agencies across the world are trying to cancel trips to Cairo, rebooking frustrated travelers for other times or other places.

    Watching the news about Egypt, Sara Anderson made her decision.

    "I came to work and caught it on the news and I was like, 'Oh, we’re so not going to be able to go,'" she said about the trip of a lifetime to Cairo that she and her brother had planned.

    They’d booked online and ended up with a travel voucher.

    "I was very frustrated at first because the travel insurance didn’t cover anything," Anderson said.
     
    They leave next week -- for Athens and Rome instead -- but it’s costing them an extra $700 in cancellation fees. With most travel insurance not covering civil unrest, some travelers are losing their money altogether.

    D.C.-based Academic Travel Abroad is used to changing situations overseas having been through things like Sept. 11, 2001, and the SARS scare. It canceled its latest group trip to Cairo, which was scheduled to leave in two weeks.

    "We don’t want to place people in a situation that we wouldn’t want to be in and that they don’t feel comfortable being in," said Marie-Rose Lohier.
     
    Now home in Salisbury, Md., student Mae McIver was spending her last year studying abroad in Cairo and was already booked on a flight home for semester break when the demonstrations started.

    "It was exciting to see people demanding their rights and standing up for themselves," McIver said.

    With tension growing in Egypt, no one can predict when that gunfire will end.

    That doesn’t mean we shouldn't travel, but we need to be as aware as we’ve ever been during times like this," said Michael Swetman, CEO of Potomac Institute for Policy Studies.