Ireland is the safest country for visitors from the U.S. according to travel insurance provider Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection. Data identifying the safest countries for U.S. travelers were developed out of the agency’s State of Travel Insurance survey of 2,000 consumers, as well as local crime rates, terror threats, social welfare, and the State Department’s safety rating.
Seven of the top 10 destinations are in Europe, two are island destinations, and one is in the South Pacific. For each destination, the survey results assign a ‘Safest Places score’derived from the number of respondents who dubbed it ‘safe’—and the rankings also include a “Global Peace Index” rating created by the Institute for Economics and Peace that combines factors like crime, incareceration rates, militarization, social welfare.
The Safest Countries for Americans, Ranked
Here are the safest countries for Americans, and how their scores rank according to U.S. travelers, the study, and the State Department.
Ireland was given a Safest Places respondent score of 3.11, and it ranks high in the Global Peace Index. It’s low on terrorism, political violence, and militarization. The State Department gives it a level one (the safest) advisory level .
Australia closely follows Ireland with a score of 3.05, and enjoys very low rates of violent crime, political instability, and militarization—reflected in a good Global Peace Index. The State Department says it’s also at level one.
Iceland enjoys a top Global Peace Index Rating as a result of very high marks for safety, social support, and political stability. One of the main problems you’ll face in Iceland is overtourism—the result of the fact that so many people agree it’s a great place: and according scores a 2.93. The State Department says it’s at level one.
Switzerland’s Global Peace Index shows very low crime rates, low terrorism, and exceptional political stability. I’m frankly surprised that the index isn’t higher: The main risks you face are to your wallet, purse, and credit cards—how much you’ll have to use them, not theft. The State Department says it’s at level one, and the Safest Places score is 2.87.
Scandinavia is really four countries, not just one: Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. They all enjoy a good Global Peace Index based on low crime rates, high levels of political stability, and low levels of political violence. As with Switzerland, the main warning is the need to “take lots of money.” The State Department puts Denmark at level two, largely because of social tensions due to immigration and a slightly elevated risk of potential terrorism; the other three are level one. Scandinavias Safest Places score narrowly follows Switzerland at 2.83.
6. Virgin Islands (U.S. and British)
Right behind Scandinavia with a 2.82 are the Virgin Islands. Although neither area has a Global Peace Index, Berkshire Hathaway says both areas good marks on safety and security. But this one might make you think twice: In prior years, the U.S. Virgin Islands have seen some high homicide rates in recent years. But the State Department says the British Virgin Islands are at level one.
Italy’s Global Peace Index is based on low homicide rates and political terror, although petty crime in tourist areas is moderate. The Safest Places score for Italy is in line with the aforementioned USVI and BVI at 2.82, and the State Department puts Italy at level two, largely because of social tensions due to a slightly elevated risk of potential terrorism.
- The ‘Benelux’ Countries
As with Scandinavia, you get multiple countries for one score: Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. The good Global Peace Index ratings for the Netherlands and Belgium are based on low rates of homicide and violent crime, high levels of political stability, and low rates of terrorism and political violence, although petty theft can be a concern in major cities. The State Department puts Belgium and the Netherlands at level two, largely because of social tensions due to a slightly elevated risk of potential terrorism; Luxembourg is too small to get a level. The Safest Places score for all three is 2.72.
- The United Kingdom
Also ranking at 2.72, the united Kingdom has a good Global Peace Index on the basis of low violent crime, high political stability, and low political violence. It gets dinged a bit because of a high level of militarization and threats of terrorism. That’s also why the State Department assigns it to level two.
- The Bahamas (score 3.05)
An outlier, The Bahamas has a Safest Places score of 3.05 but doesn’t have a rating on the Global Peace Index—although the country has certainly been peaceful for decades. The high ranking by Berkshire Hathaway seems to be offset by level two State Department rating due to crime: Berkshire Hathaway places the Bahamas at number 10 on its list, despite the fact that its Safest Places rating outscores seven other destinations.
Readers: Do you agree? What’s missing from this list? Comment below.
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Consumer advocate Ed Perkins has been writing about travel for more than three decades. The founding editor of the Consumer Reports Travel Letter, he continues to inform travelers and fight consumer abuse every day at SmarterTravel.