Watching world events unfold, and the world of terrorism becoming a daily reality, we cannot help be concerned about our safety as we are planning a year abroad.
However, do the recent attacks in Paris and beyond change our plans? Or our approach to travel? Rethink this entire trip? No. If anything, it just solidifies the extreme importance of travel for everyone.
Through travel, we get gain understanding. We gain perspective. We gain empathy.
I was deeply saddened when I heard about Beirut, Kenya and other areas that were victims of the recent attacks by the extremist group, ISIS. However, with Paris, I wept. For days. My heart was in pain.
Not that the Pairs attacks could be qualified as worse, or that their loss of life was more devastating than anywhere else, it’s just that I’ve walked the streets of Paris. I’ve fallen in love with the buildings, sidewalks, culture, and the people. I have a personal connection there.
What if more people also had those personal connections to places all over the world?
When we consider travel in this day and age, safety is always an important consideration. And when such unpredictable events like this take place where it is not common, it causes worry and it causes challenges.
What happens if there is an attack in the country you are visiting? What if they are attacking or targeting Americans *of insert any other race, nationality here* ? Won’t that be terrifying? What if you can’t get home? What if I need medical assistance? What will happen?
Truthfully, as careful as we can plan for any situation, some you just cannot be prepared for. Yes, get traveler’s insurance. Yes, know if the countries you are visiting are undergoing any political or violent struggles before you visit by checking your country’s travel advisories. But after that? You just have to take the plunge and go.
Truth be told, I don’t feel much safer in the United States.
I’m saddened by the fact that our own country feels like it’s under attack daily from ourselves. Attacks by our own citizens are causing fear and panic. Mass shootings have become a daily occurrence. Not just gun deaths, MASS shootings. My heart aches for my own country as well. How could I feel any safer staying in Seattle than I would in Paris?
I was living in New York City during 9/11. I’ve felt under attack. And what I remember the most during that time was the way the city came together afterwards. They rose from the fear, and just wanted to help. They wanted to heal. It was truly incredible thing to be a apart of. A city that felt utterly helpless during the attacks to creating a 4 hour wait time to donate blood at every hospital. Supply drop off locations popped up all over the city collecting things in need. Cheers for firetrucks and police cars rang out as they drove past in respect and recognition of the difficult task they had to rebuild a broken city. People were the most empathetic I have ever seen. You made eye contact with everyone who passed you as you didn’t know if that person just lost a friend or family member. New Yorkers, otherwise known for their shortness and gruff attitudes cared more for one another during a time when it would have been all too easy to hide in fear. Around the rest of the country, there were people driving to NYC to lend a hand. People were stoping whatever was going on in their lives to come to help. And THAT is how I choose to think of mankind. People will come together and choose action and unity over fear. I had planned to fly home only days after 9/11 for a visit, and was fortunate that the airlines had opened back up for my travel date. People asked if I would cancel my trip home because of the events. Wouldn’t I be scared to fly at such a time? The only thing that really scared me, was that my actions would forever be decided by someone else’s hate. That I would have to live in fear. I had a choice. I chose to get on that (empty) plane. I chose not to be afraid.