Fear is the worst reason not to travel.

My employer is sending me to Europe for some meetings at the end of April, and I shared my excitement to Facebook after I received my booking confirmation.  “Airfare for Germany: Booked. Bazinga!”   Most of the comments were the usual sort.  People want to know when and why I’m going.  A while after the initial post, one of my old buddies said this:

“Are you sure you wanna travel there right now?”

My initial response was flippant- “Germany and Switzerland are fine.  It’s not as if I have a business meeting in Syria.”    The more I thought about it though, the more I wonder how many of my friends truly think that the world is that scary right now.       This response, one of trepidation, is almost certainly because the Brussels bombings have been in the news for the last few days.  Before that, it was Charlie Hebdo.  Or the Boston bombing.  Or any number of attacks in various places that seem like they should be safe.  If you believe the news, everything is terrible and we’re all going to die any minute now.

If you watch the news in the US, it’s all fear, all the time. But that’s not the reality.  It’s no more dangerous to go abroad right now in most of Europe than it is to walk alone at night in a major city in the US.   Be aware of your surroundings.  Travel with common sense about your personal security.  And stop worrying about the statistical unlikelihood that you might meet a terrorist.

I’ve never felt uncomfortable or nervous anywhere I’ve been in Europe.  In Germany, I worked side by side with Muslims and I never felt like they were doing anything more objectionable due to their faith than abstaining from the wonderful German beer that was all around us.   Since 2011, I’ve traveled to more than two dozen countries.   The only time I’ve ever felt uncomfortable was in Cairo, and that was mostly because of the terrible terrible drivers.    And the pushy people along the Nile who want to sell you stuff.

Fear is the worst reason to stay at home.   There are so many wonderful things to see out there, and if you let the news give you nightmares, you’ll miss all of it.

Have you ever felt nervous in an unfamiliar city?


12 thoughts on “Fear is the worst reason not to travel.

  1. I think you’ve hit on something important here. People are so scared to go anywhere. They have a whole list of “what ifs” but the biggest is: what if you never do anything with your life.
    Glad you are traveling. I am too πŸ™‚ I think there’s more good in the world than bad


  2. thomptr

    Your perspective is spot on. The key is to go about our daily lives but be aware. There is no point being a prisoner in our homes because tragedy can happen there too.


  3. I was a bit shocked by the Facebook comment as well. I clicked to reply and wrote a whole long tirade but then deleted it. By that time you had responded.

    Germany is my home. Yes, Germany arrest a couple involved in a terrorist plot less than a block from my home. Yes, I work in a place that is potentially a target. I feel more safe here than at home in the US.

    The only place in Europe I ever felt a bit worried was Brussels. Not because of the gritty streets or the diverse population. The waiters standing outside their restaurants near the main square kept grabbing my arms and shouting at me to look at their menus. πŸ˜‰


    1. Regarding the arrest of terrorists near your home- that can happen anywhere. When I lived in Delray Beach, which is a suburb on the east coast of South Florida, my apartment was next to the condo development where several of the 9/11 bombers lived. One of the apartments I considered the last time I moved also has a history with residents who were terrorists. This is a part of life in the modern world, I think. It’s still not a reason to not go anywhere.

      (And oh yeah, the restaurant hawkers in Brussels were awful! I totally agree.)


  4. Sure got a creepy feeling in Lisbon a few years ago:

    But that’s small potatoes compared to fearing an abduction or bombing or shooting.

    My better half is in Munich at least one evening per week for much of the year. The threat of something bad happening while she is there is the same as it ever was, I suppose, but lately, it’s something I am forced to consider more frequently.

    Finding the right balance between rational defiance and pretending there is no risk at all is the key.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dead on. I figure if something is going to happen, something is going to happen. There is absolutely nothing I can do about it, so there’s no sense in locking the doors, barring the windows, and/or living your life in constant fear. Going to Prague tomorrow and the only thing I’m concerned about is the possibility of getting hit by crazy Czech dudes with Easter sticks.

    Hope you’re looking forward to your trip back! πŸ™‚


  6. The only place I’ve ever felt fear was in my own home country… not because of terrorists, but because many places in Britain simply aren’t safe places to be alone after dark as a female. We went to France a week after the Paris attacks and I didn’t feel unsafe for a second.

    And on a different note… Switzerland? You’re coming here?


    1. Zurich, specifically, during the last week of April. Business meetings and such. We’re in on Sunday and out on Thursday morning. I thought about trying to visit with you and your guy, but I’m not certain it’s logistically possible.


        1. Until we have a complete agenda, it’s impossible to be sure. I am hoping for a free night to lead a tiny expedition of displaced Americans to have dinner in Liechtenstein, though- I’ve never managed to go there, and this is as close as I’ll get under normal circumstances. I’ll reach out to you after I know our agenda and schedule if there’s any openings…


  7. GT

    We travelled from Germany to NYC in September 2001, only two weeks after 09/11. Our trip had been planned for months and we were very much looking forward to visiting our American friends in Brooklyn but after 09/11 we decided to cancel, especially since our Delta Air Flight was called off anyway. At that time everyone was nervous getting on a plane and getting on a plane to NYC seemed like a really stupid thing to do. However, when our friends expressed their disappointment, we booked a new flight (Air France, a European Airline seemed so much safer at that time!) and went to New York. The city was still very much in shock, the air smelled of burned rubber, some streets and bridges were still closed or heavily controlled. Plus it was the time of the anthrax attachs (poisened letters) and when I went to the post office to mail my postcards all the employees in the post offce were wearing dusk masks. Now that felt strange. But we met our friends which was all that mattered.Our friends and many New Yorkers we met gave us the feeling that our visit was more important for them then we had thought, almost a small act of solidarity and a sign that life can go on normally. Since then the world has had terrorist attacks in Madrid, London, Boston, Paris, Brussels, Russia and in many places our Western eyes take little notice of. Do not let those threats keep you off living the life you want, do not let the terrorists gain influence on your decisions!


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