June 01, 2016

Travel & Terrorism

Washington (CNN) - The State Department is warning Americans about the risk of potential terrorist attacks throughout Europe as law enforcement waits on heightened alert for possible ISIS-inspired attacks... (Read more here)


I'd be lying if I said that I'm not nervous about our upcoming trip to Germany this summer.

Since our last visit in September 2015, there have been two major terrorist attacks in Europe, one in Paris and one in Brussels, in addition to the New Years Eve sexual assaults perpetuated on victims all across the continent. While the media toes the line of political correctness and Europeans unhappy with immigration policies are ostracized by the vociferous left, the fact remains that the landscape of European demographics is rapidly changing, bringing a host of concerns and worries for residents and visitors alike.

I'm of the opinion that we should not live in fear. My mind tells me that I'm more likely to be injured in a car accident during my 70 mile round-trip commutes to work than during my annual 14-21 days in Europe. My faith tells me that my life has already been mapped out, which is both a reassuring and at times uncomfortable thought. And my resolve tells me that staying home and giving up travel is letting the terrorists "win."

But I'm also not naive. Traveling to Europe in 2016 will incur risks that have increased since prior visits, especially when using public transit and frequenting high profile tourism locations. And this time, I have a little daughter to think about, too.

So how has the rise of terrorism affected my travel?

For one, it's forced me to have a more heightened awareness when I travel, not just abroad but also within the continental U.S. Skimming through social media while in the train or airport terminal is curtailed so that I can be more aware of my surroundings. Question everything, trust no one. I don't ignore anything that makes me feel uncomfortable. The San Bernadino terrorists may well have been apprehended before they killed all those people if their neighbors had followed their gut suspicions and reported them. I hope I'm never in a situation where I suspect I'm near an individual plotting death and destruction, but if I am, I hope that I'm brave enough to take my suspicions to the authorities. Better safe than sorry.

Secondly, it has demoted a few places on my travel bucket list - at least for now. It's one thing to travel to a place with an elevated risk for an attack in tourist areas (such as Europe); it's another to travel to a country experiencing civil unrest, with a population sympathetic to terrorist activities, or one where active conflict is likely to escalate at any moment. So while there are many wonderful things to see and experience in a place like Turkey, any plan to visit is on indefinite hold. I'll err on the side of caution.

All photos from our May 2015 trip to Paris.
Ultimately, the increased terrorist activity has cemented my opinions on border control, homeland security, immigration reforms, etc. These are all topics I tend to shy away from discussing in the travel blogging community as my convictions generally fall afoul of the majority dialogue, and it's hard to state an opinion without being labeled a nationalist, fascist, or racist - all epitaphs called into play when someone wants to disagree without actually using logical arguments. I want to be proven wrong, but unfortunately the more full-scale attacks and day-to-day assaults and harassment that occur, the more my opinions seem to be proven correct. And these attacks aren't limited to Europe; there have been equally devastating and more horrifically-scaled attacks in Pakistan, Turkey, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, and the list goes on and on.

Yet, while my love for travel may be somewhat dampened by the threat of terrorism, it hasn't been extinguished, and I would encourage you not to let terrorists win. Travel on, my fellow wanderlusters, but do so with open eyes and listening ears.

How has the threat of terrorism affected your travel (if at all)?

Linking up with Lauren, Van, Isabel, and Marcella.

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