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?