Is It Safe To Travel?

Courtesy Paris Info

Courtesy Paris Info

By now, just about everyone has heard of the terrorist attacks, and follow-up para-military police actions, in Paris, Brussels, Israel, Beirut, and Mali amongst other places.

The headlines scream of violence and fear mongering and downright sensationalism.

Is it safe to travel? Is it safe to leave your home? Is it safe, period.

As someone who writes about travel, I have been getting this question a lot lately. Especially by those who are planning a trip but are now thinking of canceling it.

I’m planning a trip. I’m planning an extended trip that will include Paris, Brussels and Israel.

And I can’t wait.

Terrorist attacks, like airline crashes, make the news. They make the news big time. Hours are devoted to them. They increase the audience because, like the plethora of horror films being filmed, many of us want to be scared. We want to have something to fear. (Sadly, this fear can also turn to hate. Just listen to some of our Presidential candidates. But that’s a subject I’m not going to broach.)

Unlike horror films, attacks of terrorism and airline crashes are extremely rare. We hear about them, and a big deal is made about them, because they are so rare. And they play into the news media’s desire for sensationalism. Sensationalism is entertaining. When it’s entertaining more people watch. And when more people watch, more can be charged for commercials. (I should know. I was a TV journalist many years ago. Whether or not we kept our jobs all depended on the ratings.)

A handful of sensible, intelligent people I know are now telling me they’re reconsidering their travel plans outside the U.S. because it isn’t “safe.” One, who will travel overseas, says she just won’t go anywhere there are Muslims.

Good luck with that.

A few weeks ago we had daily shootings on college campuses throughout the U.S. Does that mean people should quit school because of it?

When I tell my friends where I’m going they look at me as if I’m crazy (Okay, crazier than they normally think I am.)

But I’m not going to Syria or Yemen or even Mali. I’m not going somewhere there’s a war going on. I’m going to France. It’s not exactly the Sudan. Twenty years ago I was in London when an IRA bomb went off. It hasn’t stopped me from visiting one of my favorite cities.

I hope if any of you are planning trips outside your home countries you aren’t letting these current events stop you from going. It’s important to be vigilant and aware of your surroundings, but staying home in fear means the bad guys win…..and you lose.

And remember, when you do travel, pack light. (Sorry, I had to get that in.)

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4 Responses to Is It Safe To Travel?

  1. mkt42 says:

    Good post. To add how silly these fears are, let’s turn the mirror around: there are people in some places who are afraid to travel to the USA because of all the gang-members and shootings here. And people in the US who were afraid to travel to a place such as Los Angeles because of the drive-by shootings.

    As someone who lived in Los Angeles at the time, I knew that these fears were silly. There was a time when Los Angeles had a sky-high murder rate (well over one thousand per year in the 1990s). But even so I did not fear for my life during the almost twenty-five years that I lived there.

    People living in LA had a higher chance of being killed than tourists in Paris do. But living in LA was not a big deal nor a cause for fear.

  2. Frank@OBOW says:

    I also lived in L.A. during the 90’s. I remember that during the 92 riots I was driving home and the radio news anchors were reporting that the city was in flames. As I drove from Glendale to West L.A., the news reports were terrible yet I saw nothing out of the ordinary. No flames, no smoke, no riots.

    The TV news was full of violent images of rioting yet the truth was the problem was confined to a small area.

    I, nor anyone I know, was shot at from a moving vehicle at any time yet friends and family from around the country kept asking me about the problem.

    I also remember once visiting Amsterdam and watching on the news that there was a “major” earthquake in Los Angeles. I called home only to be told it was just a little rattling. No damage.

  3. teejaydee says:

    I would like to offer a view from a European perspective. Of course life goes on, and for many, that includes travel for both business and leisure. I agree that few people will change their business travel plans, and the leisure travel that includes visiting European cities. However, there are clear indications that holidaymakers seeking a beach-type holiday are shunning destinations perceived as risky. These include Tunisia (where 39 people were shot dead by a gunman while they lay on a beach), Egypt (where a Russian jet carrying returning holidaymakers was blown out of the sky), and Turkey (where the threat of terrorism is considered to be high). These were hitherto very popular destinations. Now, however favourable the exchange rate and despite the discounts available on these holiday packages, people want to relax when on holiday, and are therefore choosing other destinations for their next break. That’s not to say holidaymakers are guaranteed to be safe in Spain or Italy for example, but the risk of terrorism in those countries is less.

  4. travelperson says:

    Big difference though for American going overseas vs Asian or European vacationing in same place. When I lived in Europe and Asia most of my vacations were not really places I would vacation if originating from the us.