In recent years, you can’t open a newspaper or turn on the TV without seeing terror dominating the headlines. It’s everywhere. As each new story breaks, it seems that no-one and no-where is safe. This impacts peoples perception of travel. People don’t feel safe to explore and have adventures. They feel that America is riddled with gun crime, that they’ll go missing in Mexico and that Europe is a prime target for terrorists. With such a climate of fear, how does anyone travel anymore? Is it stupid or naïve to travel in this world right now? Will travel ever be as it was? How can we travel with the same carefree curiosity in times of terror?
To be honest, I think a healthy dose of nativity and optimism is what pushed me to travel in the first place. I didn’t think about whether or not a place was dangerous, other than when it came to getting my vaccinations. I think by and large you need to exercise the same precautions wherever you go in the world. That said, the reality is that some countries are riddled with war, famine, disease and crime and in such instances, you need to think extra carefully about the level of risk involved.
I don’t think that terror should be a deterrent to travellers but I do think that we need to consider how a changing world impacts our travel options.
The first thing you should do, wherever you choose to go, is be informed. Read newspapers and blogs, watch the news and if possible, ask people from the country themselves about what’s going on. The UK government has a brilliant site (https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice) that summarises present risk in each country so that travellers can make informed decisions. Areas of interest should be:
- Threat of terrorism;
- Civil or international war;
- Natural disasters;
Only by being informed of the risks and what we can put in place to mitigate risk can we feel confident in the decisions that we make when it comes to travel.
Travel involves uncertainty, as do all things. Life itself is uncertain. The truth is, none of us can predict what is going to happen and to travel you do need to embrace uncertainty. This doesn’t mean that you need to make stupid decisions or take unnecessary risks, but it does mean understanding that you cannot prepare and plan for every part of the journey. If travelling to a certain country makes you feel nervous to the point that you won’t be able to enjoy your holiday, pick a country that you personally feel safer in. I do push people to go beyond their comfort zones, but that doesn’t always need to be the case.
Know that there is always risk
Travel always involves risk. You can mitigate risk by making ‘safer’ choices but none of us know what is going to happen. I always advise new travellers to travel as part of a tour or group or to stick to backpacker friendly destinations such as Thailand and Australia but even these countries can be dangerous. The thing is, it isn’t just travel that involves risk. Life itself involves risks!
Do what you can do to make yourself safe
I wrote another blog that I feel outlines various things that travellers can do to keep themselves safe. The blog focused on female travellers but you can apply the logic to anyone. When it comes to safety, do what you can do to make yourself feel safe. Book onto a tour or group, get adequate insurance, research the area you are staying in and pick somewhere with a good reputation, always lock your door, don’t consume too much alcohol, don’t partake in recreational drugs. If you think the list is just a long list of ‘don’ts’, reframe them as ‘do’s.’ Come up with a code word that you can drop into conversation when you are with your travel buddy and strangers if you feel unsafe. Do always keep cash, a bank card, a form of identity and your phone on you in emergencies. Do keep people at home updated on what you are doing. Exercise common sense. Be aware of your surroundings, of your own behaviour and of others.
Remember life must be lived
It’s completely natural to worry about terror and danger in our modern world but it is also important to remember that the world has always been a dangerous place in one way or another. In many ways the world is safer. That’s not to say that bad things are not happening but the 24-7 news cycle keeps this news constantly in our faces. I’ve visited places that have experienced terror attacks such as London, Barcelona, Nice, Paris, Manchester and Las Vegas and not had any problems whilst I was there. You have to live life and not let the bad guys win by shrinking your world so small that no satisfaction can be had.
Keep safe and happy travelling.
All my love