People have asked if I’m afraid to be traveling now, especially when some of the countries I visit are not always the road most travelled. Some would argue that as a “Westerner” I’m safer going to the unusual places. And then there are those who would be correct in saying that violent extremists have been around for a long time.
My first foray into such a world came in October of 2001. I had planned a Round the World trip for months, was packed and ready to go when 9/11 happened. My itinerary was centered on sites I considered Great Wonders of the World like the pyramids, Victoria Falls, the wildlife of Africa, Agra, Mount Everest, the Petronas Towers and the Great Barrier Reef. The solidarity with the USA was never stronger, in each and every one of the places I visited.
Rick Steves, a famous travel advisor, wrote “there’s an important difference between fear and risk!” And I believe that to be true. I do fear any sort of violence and greatly admire the French, the Bostonians, the Brits, the Lebanese, and all those facing terrorism and destruction in their countries for declaring that they will not let this horror change their lives.
I am also a realist and know that we all are changed by this, and that terrorism will not ever be entirely wiped out. I mourn for those who have suffered and hope that I will not experience this first hand but I will continue to travel.
There are definitely a few things I will practice in order to decrease risks. Because of incidents like Amman, Mumbai and Male, I stay in smaller local hotels. I avoid assemblies of people protesting; I respect local customs and dress and act accordingly. I expect there to be delays now going through security and strangers rummaging through my suitcase, but it’s really about those wonderful new experiences, new sites and incredible people on the horizon.