Reading the news in today’s climate can be depressing. Sometimes I feel that the state of the world is in disarray and hostility has become so endemic in global affairs that the future of our society seems doomed. The repercussions of this cascade into various aspects of life, and I really feel it when traveling. Even the most experienced and passionate travelers among us have to admit to sometimes feeling trepidation and anxiety when traveling in this era of global terrorism. So, how can we cope? I think, us travelers need to remain fearless and travel more, undeterred by the impulse to cower away.
Most recently, the attacks at the Mosques in Christchurch, a place where my partner calls home, shocked me to my core. I’ve been to the quiet, laid-back city several times and have felt so welcomed by the friendly, easy-going Kiwi’s I met there.
I would never have imagined such a hateful and devastating act of violence ever occurring in such a peaceful city.
Unfortunately, these tragedies seem to be increasing. Not long before, the attacks at London Bridge on the 3rd of June 2017, occurred not too far from where I live. In fact, in the few short years I have lived in London, there has been multiple incidences like this and you can feel the tension and anxiety ripple through the city as we all look to one another for explanation and solace. I too, wonder whether it’s still safe for me to live here – a place which has been named a ‘hot-spot’ for terrorist activity – or should I flee to the safety of my hometown of Adelaide, in South Australia.
But then I remember Christchurch, a city that resembles my own in so many ways, and it saddens me to think that if something so devastating can happen there, then could it not happen anywhere?
As travelers we tend to be resilient – we understand that things are not always going to go to plan and we just roll with the punches, knowing that it’s part of the larks of travelling.
We also tend to be more worldly; and for many of us, we have stood on London Bridge, or wondered thorough the street of Paris – places where acts of violence have occurred – and our hearts are heavy when we hear the news of these cities which we are familiar with, being the site of something so devastating. We too, are aware of the atrocities happening in third world countries and when we travel to war-torn places, we go with the understanding and knowledge that it is inherently dangerous. But, these are not third-world countries. They are cities that millions of tourists’ flock to every year.
So, we have to wonder – is it still safe to travel?
The author Suzanne Collins once wrote that ‘hope is the only thing stronger than fear.’
It helps me to remember this whenever I have anxieties about traveling in this perilous world. I try not to over exaggerate but rather be defiant. It helps to put things into perspective and remember it’s the fear of the unknown that makes us more anxious than we might be and a change in our thought patterns can significantly alter the perception on our fears. Instead of focusing our thoughts on what we cannot control, we can remember that these incidences are highly unlikely and in the grand scheme of things, are much less of a risk to us than what we build them up to be in our minds.
Our urge to see the world should not be quashed by anxiety and fear, as rational as it may be. In fact, behavioral scientists point out that a heightened sense of collective fear actually makes us more vigilant and therefore safer. So, while we cannot change the delicate state of today’s security climate, we can, as global citizens, do our best to remember that our confidence will grow the more that we travel.
Do you feel the same way? Can you share any tips of your own?