This is a scary time for traveling. After the recent attacks in Paris — which left at least 129 people dead — as well as ongoing wars and conflicts with terror organizations like ISIS, a lot of people rightly have concerns about going abroad.
I think there are a few ways to look at this. For starters, it’s important to keep in mind that the odds of being affected by a terrorist attack remain very, very low. While the recent attacks are tragic and heartbreaking, it’s worth keeping in mind that millions upon millions of people visit Paris every year — which means only a tiny percentage were affected by the attack. Other, smaller cities are even less likely to be targeted, and ultimately traveling remains generally safe.
In addition, I like Rick Steves’ response to the Paris attacks. On his Facebook page, he wrote about the “appropriate response” to terrorism:
I believe we owe it to the victims of this act not to let the terrorist win by being terrorized. That’s exactly the response they are hoping for. Sure, it’s natural for our emotions to get the best of us. But, especially given the impact of sensational media coverage, we need to respond intelligently and rationally.
He’s right. We don’t want the terrorists to win, and Steves goes on to point out that other things, such as gun violence, don’t make staying at home all that much safer.
To that I’d add that traveling (at least as we conceive of it) is fundamentally about bringing people together. It’s about learning about other cultures and breaking down barriers. It’s about seeing how we’re all human.
In other words, travel is the opposite of terrorism, which is designed to sow discord and fear. So at a time when fear may be growing and terrorists are trying to drive people apart, travel has never been more important.
— Jim Dalrymple II