Originally published in 2015 on MappingMegan.com
This year has been a frightening year for those who travel – terrorism appears to be on the rise, governments have been issuing overblown safety advice, and travelers are becoming more and more paranoid about whether or not it is safe to travel (it is).
We have seen separate attacks this year in Belguim, Kuwait, and Turkey, and most recently as last week, there were double ISIS bombings in Beirut, terror bombings in Iraq, and the appalling attack which occurred in France.
Tourists were among those killed in Tunisia when a gunman started shooting in a museum in May, and a car bomb injured seven people in March on a tourist island in Thailand. Two explosives were uncovered in Belfast in June, mosques were bombed Yemen, and there was the horrific Peshawar school massacre – when militants from the Pakistani Taliban entered a school and opened fire on the students, detonating multiple explosive devices at the same time. 132 children and nine staff members were killed.
Though one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in history happened in January of this year, a multi day attack of villages in northern Nigeria leading to the deaths of almost 2,000 at the hands of Boko Haram – the same group responsible for abducting over 200 girls from a school in the northeastern town of Chibok in April 2013. Am I safe from terrorism if I travel overseas?
Each of these were horrific events, and we pray for the victims and their families of all involved. We pray that hatred will be eventually stamped out, and that the delusional cowards who aim to spread terror and fear in the name of false religions will find themselves cut down.
But despite the horror and tragedy of each individual situation, and despite the overblown daily paranoia instigated by our media through sensational stories which only promote fear, each of these were isolated events, and your chances of actually being caught in a terrorist attack while overseas are very slim. More likely to be crushed to death by a vending machine kind of slim.
Realistically, cities like London, Prague and New York have some of the highest crime rates in the world, though no government agency advises against travel here. And you have just as much chance of being caught up in an attack on your own country as you do while traveling abroad, yet no-one lives permanently in a bunker underneath their home for fear of coming out.
So many New Yorkers are cancelling their plans to go to Paris, but think about what occurred right in their own backyard on 9/11. You can’t let extremist activities stop you from traveling and you can’t live in fear.
Because the truth of the matter is that it’s not travel which is dangerous – it’s LIFE. And if you stop traveling, the terrorists win.
So don’t stop traveling, just travel smart. Here’s how to travel safely in the face of terrorism. How to be safe from terrorism when traveling overseas.
Register your travel with your government and maintain contact with your consulate or embassy in the event of a terrorist attack. Many countries have a smart traveler program where you can lodge your travel plans and this is especially important if you’re heading to an area where you’re worried about terrorism or unrest. Safe overseas travel with terrorism.
Doing this means the government knows which of its citizens are at risk in an emergency event, and is the only way they can contact you. You should always travel with the phone number and address of your local embassy as a matter of routine.
Leave a copy of your itinerary with someone you trust. No matter what your age, never underestimate the importance of letting someone at home know where you will be. Leave the names, address and numbers of your hotels, information about your transport, and names of anyone you have pre-arranged to meet. In the event that things go south you’ll have someone who can act immediately to aid and assist, or even attempt to locate you.
Get your bearings as soon as you arrive in a new city, as this will help you navigate an emergency situation with less confusion and stress should one occur. Stay safe from terrorism attacks overseas.
You don’t want to be wandering aimlessly around the streets of a new city if a terrorist attack has just occurred, so make sure you are aware of your surroundings and know, for instance, a route back to your hotel so you can remain calm and leave the incident as quickly as possible. It’s always a good idea to keep a business card from your hotel on you. Worst case you can jump in a cab and present the driver with the card.
Travel with a phone. While international roaming charges are the reason many leave their phones at home, in the event of an emergency you need a way to communicate with others. So even if you switch your phone to a constant state of flight mode while overseas, having it with you at least allows you the option of a more immediate form of communication than email if it’s required.
If you’re in one location for a prolonged period of time, consider buying a local SIM. And make sure you save the numbers of your embassy and hotel.
Make sure you recognize the uniforms of local police and learn a few basic phrases in the local language of where you will be.
Should something happen, local police and military are have more up to date information about what’s happening on the ground and they’ll know best course of action to ensure your safety. Always follow their directions.