With the ongoing terrorist events each year, some of our clients are always asking, “Is it safe for me to travel to (insert destination here)? The broad answer is no place on earth is completely safe, including your own home. Terrorism and has been with us for centuries and will not be going away. My feeling is that if we stop doing the things we planned to do in our ordinary lives, then the terrorists win. This blog was written on December 8, 2015 and revised in late 2017. There will be other terrorist events in the future. That is a given. But let me give you a little perspective. Did you know that there are between 8000 and 13000 airplanes in the air on this day right now? They are all landing safely, or you would hear about the one that did not. Perhaps a few times in the year a plane crashes somewhere in the world, rarely but sometimes due to terrorism, so your chances of a safe flight are nearly 100% every time you fly. And your odds of being involved in any terrorism event are less than those who travel by air today.
In Paris, if you had been at the Bataclan when the shooting happened, there were more people who survived than were killed or wounded. And if you were in Paris at the time of all the attacks, there were 10.5 million people in Paris and the surrounding suburbs who were not attacked. If you asked me today, would I go to Las Vegas, Orlando, London, Paris or San Bernardino, I would say yes without hesitation and I would bring my family. I’d do it even if I were going there a day after the terrible event.
You might think those words coming from the owner of a travel agency are self serving. So let me give you one more piece of evidence that my views are not just because I am in travel. Before I owned a travel agency, and after the 9/11 event, I had to make a decision. Our family had purchased air and hotel in the summer for a trip to NYC for 2001 Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. We had purchased tickets to the Rockettes Christmas show and Lion King. So we had to make a decision. Do we go to NYC on that trip? You might not recall this now, but there was talk of the terrorists doing something in NYC over Thanksgiving. We decided to go and I took the whole family with me, just 7 weeks after 9/11. Yes it was somber to see the damage and the memorials. But we still had a marvelous time and we were there supporting the businesses that were hurting due to the lack of travelers. As a traveler to NYC for decades, I saw a kinder, gentler NY. I am really glad we went. I took the family back to NYC in 2016 and the 9/11 memorial visit was more meaningful, due to our trip in 2001.
I have been traveling for more than 50 years. I had nearly 2 million miles on Northwest, and I have more than a million on Delta. My wife and I were in Greece and Turkey in 2015 during the financial and refugee crisis. Although we had taken extra money as a precaution, I never saw a line at an ATM the entire time I was there. I never saw a crowd of refugees, though I know they were there on islands we did not plan to visit. I will continue to travel but I will always be prepared with advance knowledge from the US State department. And I use common sense because besides the terrorists, you might encounter a scam artist or petty thief, and they are more likely to be your encounter than with a terrorist.
We recommend that anyone who wants to travel internationally, should review the travel comments on the US Department of State website for safety and security information. Being informed is the best defense. Go to this link for safety information by destination.
We also recommend you enroll in the STEP program. See the details on the web link above.
As travel agency staff, we cannot fully answer the question of “Is it safe for you to travel?” All we can do is provide the most accurate, up to date information, and it is up to you to make an informed decision. And I hope you continue to travel.