What is the world coming to? We thought that the atrocious attacks of 9/11 were the pinnacle of terrorism but the reality is these types of events are becoming more and more frequent. Stay inside, lock your doors and don’t come out!! That’s the philosophy that terrorists want people to have. They want us to fear the world we live in. They want us to have that inherent ‘terror’ inside us anytime we decide to leave the confines of our safe haven. The million dollar questions that we are always asked, “Is it safe to travel?” and “Are you traveling to Europe anytime soon?”
We want to share our perspective on this because as avid travelers, our stance on this will hopefully inspire others to change their opinion. DO NOT LET TERRORISTS WIN!
What is Terrorism?
Let’s start by looking at the specific definition of terrorism.
the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.
In recent years, the concept of terrorism has developed in a way that I personally think extends the boundaries of this definition. If terrorism was only about the pursuit of political aims, I strongly doubt we would see so many awful attacks on innocent individuals. We need to incorporate the word ‘minority’ into this definition because ultimately terrorists around the world are minorities, rather than the majority.
We are frequently hearing high-profile individuals talk about this being an ethnic issue but this is certainly the wrong approach to take. This isn’t about Muslim communities but instead, it is about a small percentage of individuals around the world focused on causing extreme harm to innocent communities.
The problem we have right now is that there appears to be no sign that this ‘small’ number is diminishing and perhaps we are seeing the opposite…this number is actually growing.
History of Terrorism
The history of terrorism dates back thousands of years. The earliest known organization that performed aspects of a modern terrorist organization was the Zealots of Judea, dating back to between the 1st and 14th centuries. They assassinated Roman forces in underground campaigns along with any Jews they stumbled across that followed the Roman standards.
But the sophistication of terrorists has only increased exponentially in recent years thanks to the development of technology, encryption and other means of networking. The reality is that although all these high-level technologies that we use on a day to day basis are helping us, at the same time they are hindering us because terrorists are taking advantage of them.
Terrorist Threats Today
The harsh reality is that terrorism is more prevalent today than ever before. Before looking at reasons why we shouldn’t let this control our lives or change our travel plans, let’s look at some of these realities that we need to face.
The recent attacks on Paris, San Bernardino and Brussels have all been claimed by the ISIL or ISIS (Islamic State) terror groups. But this group is not the only active terrorist group that we should be thinking about. It’s inevitable that there are smaller ‘sleeper cells’ around the world that we are not even familiar with yet, but for now, these are the main groups that are causing global fear today:
- ISIS – Islamic State
- Boko Haram
- Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
It’s interesting to note that these groups don’t always collaborate together. In fact, their opinions are so extreme that they frequently clash with each other. The real danger may be when these groups begin to work together.
You are more likely to be struck by lightning than killed or injured in a terrorist attack
This type of rhetoric is not going to convince everyone that boarding a plane to Europe or exploring a part of the world that has recently faced a terrorist attack is the best option. Here are some more facts that may help sway your opinion:
- You are 35,079 times more likely to die from heart disease than from a terrorist attack.
- You are 33,842 times more likely to die from cancer than from a terrorist attack.
- You are 4,706 times more likely to die from alcohol than from a terrorist attack.
These numbers are based on US Centers for Disease Control in 2011. Of course with the recent attacks, these numbers may have dropped slightly.
Since 9/11, foreign-inspired terrorism has claimed about two dozen lives in the United States. (Meanwhile, more than 100,000 have been killed in gun homicides and more than 400,000 in motor-vehicle accidents.)
CNN reporter Fareed Zakaria shared the above quote and yet again it just reiterates the risks we face every day. When you wake up in the morning, anything could happen. My point to all of this is that we cannot live a life of fear. When you head to work every day and get in your car, are you thinking negative thoughts about ‘what could happen.’ The pessimistic people out there may do but I think the majority probably don’t.
Is it Safe to Travel?
The simple answer to this question is YES! We are seeing increased security levels in mass public transportation hubs such as airports and railway stations. Given the recent attacks, I completely concur with authorities increasing their security presence but even in a city like Brussels which we recently visited and can attest that security was everywhere (armed police were visible throughout the city), this did not prevent terrorists.
There is so much to see around the world that a small minority of individuals should not prevent us all from experiencing the world we live in.
For those out that remain pessimistic and prefer to stay at home, just realize that anything could happen anywhere in the world. This is not just happening in Syria, Iraq or even Europe. This has happened in USA, Australia and other parts of the world and will continue to do so. I hate to say this but it is a harsh reality.
There will always be people out there focused on harming others and regardless of the sacrifices they make or heartache they cause, their moment in the limelight is what drives them to these horrific events.
Be vigilant at all times when you are in public places but enjoy life!
What Do Other Travelers Say?
Rather than focusing on our opinion, we asked several of our travel blogging friends who share similar opinions and reiterate the stance that we should all continue to travel and go about our daily lives without fear of being caught up in the next terror attack. Here is what they have to say about traveling in light of the recent events.
“Freedom of movement is a basic human right, and I would never let a terrorist, the media or anyone take that away from me, especially when I’ve chosen to permanently travel as my lifestyle.” – Skye Class from Skye Travels
“Having just returned from a country many see as high risk (Egypt) to London, my observation is that many of those places we see as dangerous already have excellent security measures in place. Every hotel or attraction we visited had x-ray bag inspections and full body scans. Entry to the airport was via a security check. The same is not true in London – is it a higher risk at home or away? The impact on the Egyptian economy has been devastating. I have no intention of stopping traveling and exacerbating an already dire situation.” – Fiona MacLean from London Unattached
“We’re traveling to England and Scotland in May with my 3-year-old daughter and 60-year-old mother. I’ll admit that this trip has me nervous, especially the days we’ll be spending in London. But we’re not changing any part of our trip, we just plan to be more alert and avoid large crowds. That won’t be too hard for me because I hate crowds!” – Christa Singleton from Travel Fearlessly
“You risk death every time you so much as drive a car, so why should you stop traveling?”– Danielle Ditzian from Like Riding a Bicycle
“It’s really a matter of perspective. People have a fear of traveling abroad due to possible terror attacks, yet are perfectly happy to trundle about our own countries without worrying. Many of us here in the UK wouldn’t think twice about heading down to London right now, yet refuse to jump on a plane to Europe or North Africa. Just use common sense, heed government advice and don’t be biased after listening to the media.” – Heather Cole from Conversant Traveller
“We can’t predict what can happen in our lives. Just going to work something can happen in the street. Perhaps you are are riding your bicycle and somebody hit you or even you constantly eat your favorite dish and your heath condition gets worse. We are not protected from how long we will live, what will happen will happen! But I believe we should stop being afraid and continue living. I’m living now in Indonesia and just a couple of months ago before I arrived here, there was a bombing in Jakarta but I didn’t allow this to change my plans to come here.” – Viktorija Panovaite from Life in Big Tent
“As a college student, I decided to study abroad in London in the summer of 2005; just four weeks after I’d arrived, over 50 people were killed in coordinated attacks on the Tube and bus system. My parents asked me to come home, but I didn’t want to: allowing the fear to control me was what the terrorists wanted. Travel isn’t always pretty and your safety isn’t every guaranteed, but bad things can happen anywhere. In general, European travel is quite safe if you pay attention to your surroundings and use your head.” – Natalie Vereen-Davis from Cosmos Mariners
“All we hear in the news is about terrorism and the bad things. Working in PR and media, we realize that’s what sells. The more sensational the story, the more “news days” you can add to the story with new angles, the better your ratings. If you understand this, you realize that changing your travel plans based on media hype is a bit irrational. We’re not changing our travel plans.” – Lance and Laura Longwell from Travel Addicts
“Every time we hear about another terrorist attack our hearts stop and we think who do we know there. After taking a breath we know we can’t stop traveling or we let the terrorists win. There are so many beautiful people and places to meet and visit in the world. Letting these random attacks of terror stop us only lets them achieve their goal. Keep traveling, keep wandering it’s the only answer.” – Sue Reddel from Food Travelist
“I love the saying ‘Be alert, not alarmed’ a common term used by the Australian Government. Really take in what’s happening around you, not just in relation to terrorism but for your general safety always.” – Sally Lucas
“Scary things happen all over the world, including in your own backyard. I travel with all 3 of my children and never avoid anyplace due to fear and I do not plan to do so now. What would that show my children?? I teach them to educate themselves about where they are going, use caution like anywhere else in the world, and go out and have fun!” – Mary Hickox from Bohemian Travelers
“I will be traveling the rest of my life. Standard street smarts, keeping your guard up and knowing your surroundings take away most of the opportunistic crime. Knowing local customs, being informed, and blending in eliminates most of the rest. I’m also reminded that governments and their terror alerts run on their own series of motivations and incentives, few of which coincide with the traveler’s motivations and incentives.” – Chris Backe from One Weird Globe
“It’s not 100% safe to travel. It’s not 100% safe to cross the street. It’s not 100% safe to give your heart to another person, or to swim in the ocean or to eat different food. I strongly recommend you do all of those things. Life is a challenge and it should scare you sometimes. It should push you and change your perspective and sometimes it should hurt. Only through putting yourself out into the world will you ever fully live. Outside of your comfort zones is where it really begins. Travel far and wide, care for people and the planet and never let fear stop you.” – Kate-Frankie Brennan from This Could Lead to Anywhere
“Things can happen anywhere. I will still travel because I think embracing the world does more good than hiding from it.” – Annalyn Belle from Kids Travel Books
“Having spent many years commuting daily into London it is fair to say that fear also drives determination. People who have experienced an atrocity tend to be more vigilant of their surroundings. Don’t let fear rule your life, instead, let that fear help mold an unforgettable trip that will not only satisfy your wanderlust but also overcome your concerns.” – Tamason Gamble from Travelling Book Junkie
“I am concerned, but I am not changing any travel plans. I will go to NYC as planned, and I will ride the subway. Of course, this is not to say I won’t be vigilant and observant.” – Carole Terwilliger Meyers from Travels With Carole
“It won’t deter us, and I hope it doesn’t deter others. Frankly, and unfortunately, who knows where it will happen next. It could be where you think you are most safe. Never give in to fear. We live by the maxim, “A life lived in fear is a life half lived”.” – Paula and Gordon from Contented Traveller
“Fear is a mechanism by which the very few control the masses to obtain the desired behavior, whereas travel is a tool that allows you to know your fellow man where they live so you no longer fear them as a people. I choose to unite rather than divide.” – Dan Bibb from As We Saw It
“There’s a vast difference between reasonable fear and irrational fear. Sadly, media reports feed into the latter and that helps no one. As a solo female traveler of 20 years, I’ve learned the perception of danger in other countries is always greater than the reality, so I ask people to try and expand their perspective when measuring the risks of travel.” – Helen Suk from Not Without My Passport
“I will still travel despite increased terror alerts because travel carries many risks before even considering the factor of terrorism. If we let fears about terrorist activity stop us living our lives to the fullest, it means the perpetrators, regardless of the varying political and religious perspectives they may represent, are succeeding in their shared extremist ideological goals of weakening existing social values and being recognized as an invincible power.” – Shannon Colman from Sole Seeking
As avid travelers that hopefully inspire others to travel the world, we felt that it was necessary to share our opinion on the topic of whether it is safe to travel right now. We are all entitled to our opinions and I am sure there will always be doubters out there. Many of the pictures scattered throughout this post show the increased security presence visible in some of the world’s leading cities. Let’s help these security forces do their job and keep us all safe from tragic attacks.
In my opinion, the statistics don’t lie so please don’t allow terrorists to win. Thanks to everyone that contributed in this post and sharing their opinions on why we should not change our lifestyle or desire to travel the world.
Keep traveling folks but of course, be vigilant and keep your eyes peeled!