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Please Don't Be Afraid to Travel

Please Don't Be Afraid to Travel

Barcelona.
London.
Manchester.
Paris.
Nice.
Berlin.
Brussels.
The list goes on and on.

These cities have two things in common for the purposes of this post: they are popular tourist destinations. And they have all experienced a terrorist attack in the past year. Some have experienced multiple attacks.

As I type this post, I have the news on in the background. And it's full of the same news stories: Trump's latest shenanigans, reactions on the Charlottesville and Boston protests, information on the Barcelona attacker who was recently killed at the hands of the authorities...

The news is anything but happy. In an instant, we are flooded with stories, images, and reports on recent attacks, human suffering, and mounting tensions between countries. We are a click or an app away from finding out the most recent information about the latest attack or provocation.

I am here to say that even though the world may seem scary and that terror may be lurking around every foreign corner, please don't let that change your perspective on travel.

Please don't let these senseless acts of terror deter you from visiting amazing cities. I visited Barcelona last spring (read about it here) and it has become one of my all-time favourite destinations. The colours of the city are so vibrant. The food is delicious. The vibe is so chill. To see that someone would terrorize such a beautiful city (and such a busy area as La Rambla) is abhorrent and saddening.

My dear hometown of London has suffered quite a few terrorist attacks and threats of even more. And even though those few terrorist attacks shook the city and the world, London continues to go on. 

All I ask is that if you are planning a trip and are starting to hesitate because of the state of the world, please don't let the news deter you from experiencing a new culture, explore a new city, and come home with endless stories and memories.

I'm not telling you to forgo all sense of security, by any means. Always be careful. Check the ATMs to make sure that it hasn't been fitted with a card skimmer (trust me, losing your money to a skimmer is not fun). Always practice situational awareness - who is around you? What are they doing? Are they doing something suspicious? When you see something that unsettles you, say something to a police officer, transportation worker, museum docent, etc. Have your emergency plan in place in case something happens while you're traveling. Know where your country's embassy or consulate is located. Check your country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs for travel information on the country or region you're visiting. Research different ways to get back to your accommodation depending on which area of the city you're coming from. Know how to tell legitimate transportation from illegitimate transportation. Do your research, know the common scams in the area, and make sure you take all precautions when visiting possibly dangerous areas. For an example of a good resource, I've used Rick Steves' website when learning about scams, transportation, and general things to know for anywhere in Europe.

There will be people who will cancel or alter their travel plans because of recent attacks. And I can't fault people for making the decision that is best for them and their families. I'm sure I'd think about things differently if I had children with me.

So, for those who can, please continue with your travel plans. Don't let the senseless acts of terrible people hold you back from taking in a new city. Just be safe. And a bit more cautious. Don't let these attacks keep you in fear at home.

Here's to experiencing new cultures despite the state of the world,

 - j

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