I am fascinated with abandoned places. It calls to the archaeologist in me. These locations are fascinating because they are a marker of what once was and begs exploration, research, and pause. The pause is to question why was and is this site significant and of greater importance. At least to me it is to potentially answer the question “So what?”. There are so many sites to explore throughout the world with the payoff of exploring these place comes the possibility of risk.
With the advent of warmer weather, loosening Covid restrictions, and increased travel, there will be more opportunities to explore. There are factors to consider when you are looking to explore abandoned areas. So, while not always a rule follower, I like to stay out of jail and harms way. There are some guidelines I like to follow when it comes to abandoned sites.
- Research the site you want to explore. Most often there is information about the site online and especially how to access the site and who may own the site. I always take this with a grain of salt since the accuracy can be an issue depending upon where you find the information.
- When in doubt make a phone call. This contact can provide you with a wealth of information. Be careful how you identify yourself. I let them know who I am and that I am a travel write looking to review the site. Don’t stretch the truth, these places have heard it all. Ask permission, let them know how many of you are visiting and if there are any guidelines that you need to follow.
- Assume the risk if you can’t or won’t make a contact prior to your visit since some sites are closed to the public and off-limits. This means that if you are trespassing you may be arrested which means jail, public service and/or a fine. One place that is legal to visit but illegal to explore the buildings is Centralia, PA since the Commonwealth owns the buildings. I saw piece on Dark Tourist (episode 5: Europe) about the Cyprian town of Varosha that was left abandoned due to a Turkish invasion. It is patrolled by the Turkish military and off limits. Some places are not safe.There are some abandoned nuclear sites that are still registering high levels of radiation (Dark Tourist episode 4: The ‘Stans). Some sites are in poor condition and can cause accidents due to structures falling apart. Another concern may be wild animals.
- Read the signs around the sites. This will give you a clue as to what to expect as far as the legal ramifications, trail information and potential hazards.
- Be prepared. Make sure that you have extra batteries, enough photo and video storage, water, snacks, flashlights, a map and information. Also, let someone know where you are. I share Life 360 with a friend so we know where she is on a date or where I am when I’m on the road. Keep you cell phone handy and just know that there may be poor reception at some of these sites. Walkie talkies come in handy.
- Do not take anything from the site and please leave it as is for the next person. This is the beauty of these sites and if a majority of visitors take a piece of the site, there would be little left to explore. In some cases, it could be considered stealing.
- Most importantly….Beware and take care. Be aware of your surroundings, where you are and what is coming near.
- Dark Tourist Series
- Allianz Travel Insurance