“Traveling is not dangerous – LIFE is dangerous.”
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). Travel and terrorism
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. Terrorism and travel.
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.
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How to Travel Safely in the Face of Terrorism
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. Stay safe avoid terrorism when traveling abroad.
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 safety terrorism
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. How to stay safe in a terrorist attack.
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.
Travel with Insurance Which Covers Terrorism
Traveling with adequate health insurance which covers you in the event of terrorism is essential these days, but too many insurers have a blanket exclusion for all terrorist activities, refusing to pay out on emergencies or injuries related to terrorist attacks. The majority of insurers refuse to cover medical expenses or last minute trip cancellations in the event of riots, terrorism and civil unrest. Tourists caught in these situations are left to rely on their governments to assist. Terrorism health insurance.
So read the small print of any policy before you purchase a plan, and when you start looking for a global option for your health insurance cover you need to make sure that Terrorism Coverage will be part of your policy.
With so many small scale attacks popping up all over the world, terrorism is now a fact of life, and understandably you want to know that you’re covered in case the worst should happen. There are simply too many examples out there where people have been injured as the result of a terrorist event and require medical attention to be covered when it’s not.
Pro Tip: We highly recommend policies through GeoBlue. A worldwide insurer, their plans do not restrict illness or injuries resulting from a terror attack, and travelers are eligible for coverage post departure if your trip is shortened or interrupted for medical reasons, a terrorist event or imminent threat to personal safety.
So, if you travel to a country where there are no Government warnings and are caught up in a terrorist activity, you will be covered under all the relevant sections including medical and baggage. If you have already paid for your travel and travel insurance and then the Government issues a warning against travel to that destination, you will be covered to cancel your trip. Compare that with other travel insurance policies.
Contact Tim Jennings at firstname.lastname@example.org or click for a free quote.
In today’s political and economic climate, acts of war and terrorism remain a constant threat, and unless you are a member of a terrorist organization yourself, there is not one person on this planet who can confirm that they won’t strike somewhere. Global terrorism is a fact.
Still make plans to travel – the world is a phenomenal place; but before you leave make sure you have taken the time to familiarize yourself with tips for staying safe abroad, and explored your options for coverage with a health insurance plan that (a) best meets your individual needs; and (b) covers you in the event that a terrorist does attack. Terrorism coverage insurance.
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This post was completed in our capacity as Brand Ambassadors for Individual Health and GeoBlue.
Such a timely and important article. Thank you for sharing.
Thanks Katie – I thought it was appropriate after the recent attention on France. Hope it helps people realize that the world is in general a very safe place despite these threats, and that common sense for safety is one of our biggest assets to get us through.
Great article mega, and very timely, thanks
Thanks Trevor – I felt that we needed a reminder not to panic in the wake of these kind of horrible events.
Yes, this makes sense! thank you! I am a New Yorker while not traveling, and wanted to share some helpful tips while visiting NYC.
Thanks for sharing these safety tips Christel – definitely come in handy for travel around NYC!
Yes, it’s a dangerous time to be a tourist isn’t it with these crazies intentionally targeting us? It’s not going to get any better…
I honestly believe though that common sense is the biggest thing to staying safe abroad. It was just as unsafe to travel years ago as it is now, though I do actually believe that with the advance in technology we have access to now, cell phones, immediate access to the web etc, that we have the resources to stay safer than ever before.
Thanks for this article, I think it’s very important – especially with the current horrific events!
The French attacks happened while we were on a plane to Australia, and while we were there we saw many signs of support for France.
There was definitely a lot of support here in Australia for France – I’m currently in Canberra and everything basically stopped as news came out.
Hope you’re enjoying your time in Sydney :)
Love that you took a positive approach during such a sobering time. It’s a scary issue, especially if you follow the news closely. This was the first article I’ve read where I didn’t feel even more afraid after. It’s just good to be a little more alert! I also agree with what you said in the comments – I’m sure it was just as unsafe to travel years ago, and at least now we have the technology to stay informed and to get in touch should we need to!
I’m so glad Francesca that you could come out of having read the article without feeling afraid. It’s always a delicate balance between letting people know just how important it is to practice safety and travel insured, while still hitting the note that it’s safe to travel.
Because it really is safe to be out there, just as safe as it is staying at home anyway, though we just need to practice caution while we’re away. I’m sure that this level of violence isn’t new – I do think though that because we have such instant news coverage now what with social media etc, and because the world is so connected, that we just hear about everything now as opposed to in previous decades where it was impossible for news to travel so fast.
Some great tips there Meg! As an ex soldier as well as someone who has taught martial arts and self defence to military, police and civilians, I’m a huge, huge believer in preparation and knowledge being a huge part of reducing any personal risk when travelling, but it is so important to get that message across that the world in general is a very safe place. Yes there are certain risks out there, but there are at home too, and with some good knowledge, a bit of research and some reasonable common sense safety precautions you can reduce any risk to yourself to acceptable levels at home or abroad. Fear of what may happen should NEVER stop you travelling. Well done on getting that message out.
Thankyou Mike – I think it’s all about the balance of making it very clear that the world is a safe place, though you do still have to travel with common sense and take precautions to ensure your safety as you go.
My husband was in Paris when the recent attacks happened. OK, he was, at that specific moment, a few kilometres away – but you get the idea. So, as I was looking through your recommendations, I realized that yes, it is important to stay safe and be proactive. And not AFTER something happens, but in general :)
I’m glad that he was well enough away from the attacks to not have been injured Lori – though I can’t even imagine how terrifying the stress of the situation would have been.
Yes, it’s always best to be proactive because you’re more likely to handle situations which arise far better than if you travel ill prepared.
Travel safe X
Genius post yet again, Meg. I completely agree– not traveling is basically handing victory to the hands of terrorist’s. FEAR is exactly what they want. Terrorism happens everyday and I myself admit that some of the events you mentioned, I haven’t even heard of before. It’s a matter of traveling safe and traveling wisely.
Wishing you more awesome adventures! Happy travels and stay safe yourself!
Thankyou Erica, it’s always a case of traveling safe and wisely – because there really is just as much likelihood of something like this catching you at home, so to not travel due to fear instilled by these attacks is to give into terror and we can never let fear rule our lives.
This is a great post, Meg and a very timely one. The world has been terrified, but we cannot be cowed. Your tips are spot on!
Thankyou Carol – of we live in fear we give in and let these cowards win.
Very useful advice. I think the key point is that some of the most ‘everyday’ destinations (for me, Paris is just an hour flight) are actually quite high risk (I think London itself probably is too at the moment). And, if we stop living, we are simply letting the terrorists win
Thankyou Fiona – and absolutely – depending on where you’re based, I think that you’re more likely to think that your immediate surrounding area is safer than a country on the other side of the world. A mentality which is hard to break sometimes, because I think it mainly comes down to being due to being afraid or fearful of what is unknown.
But you really could just as easily be caught up in one of these tragic events at home, so there’s no use in cancelling travel plans for fear of an attack abroad.
Couldn’t agree more about having travel insurance. We keep on seeing what an invaluable investment it is over and above everything else throughout our travels.
I kept reading the tip about registering with your embassy in countries you visit, but practically, how would you go abouts doing that? Email? Have some got an online system for it? We never tried.
(Being confronted by 2 corrupt policemen in Moscow trying to get a bribe -saying to them “Embassy! Embassy!” over and over and pointing to the piece of paper with the address of the Embassy, eventually got rid of them).
Hi Stefan – each country usually has a specific website for travelers to register, and it’s usually part of your government website under the department of foreign affairs.
You can do it all online, so even if you’ve already left for your trip and forgot, just log on and fill out a quick form with your details and you’re all done :)
You make some valid points there Meg. All the violence in the world isn’t going to stop me from seeing the world!
I’m writing this while Brussels is now at terrorist threat level 4 which means the metro is closed and most tourist attractions are closed. your tip of traveling with a phone is definitely a good one so you can keep up with the day to day news.
So glad to hear you say that Geert! Stay safe in Brussels – and definitely make sure you have access to a phone if you do venture out into the streets. Just a precaution, but can come in so useful if you need it.
Travel safe X
Yes, the world is a phenomenal place! Anything can happen anywhere and, to your point, do we all just bunker down in our homes? No! We need to believe in the overwhelming good in the world instead of letting our fears be dictated by the negative loop of sensational media.
Good point on insurance excluding terrorism. Unfortunately it’s something we have to think about.
So glad we’re on the same page Jackie! We are the only people who lose when we bunker down and give into fear. That’s exactly what these kind of groups want. We need to band together as a global society and make the point that we do not let extremist activity dictate the way we live our lives.
And yes, sadly I wish the media were a little more realistic and less sensational in the news they sell. Because that only worsens the issue and spreads more fear.
It is so true we can’t let fear stop us from living our lives, and for me that is all about travel.
Excellent attitude to take Megan – I’m glad to hear that you’re not letting these events stop you from living your dream :)
I guess the question is also what is defined as a terrorist act because sometimes it’s s bit tricky. Definitively worth adding, you never know when tragedy might strike
That’s very true too Mar, I often think that the term “terror” is too loosely applied sometimes and that tragedies which are localized are taken to be an act of international terror. It’s a very hard line to balance and I think it’s definitely become blurred.
I’m glad you wrote this post because I have been looking for something like this before I start traveling again.
Thankyou Sonal – I’m glad that you found the post to be helpful and comforting before your next trip. Travel safe X
Great tips. I’ve struggled with family over the last year or so who’ve wanted me to reconsider certain trips and I continue to tell them that yes, I use common sense and take certain precautions – but anything could happen anywhere – and not traveling is not an option.
I think the biggest thing is that people are fearful of the unknown. They feel safe at home because it is familiar even though there is the same likelihood that they could be hit by a tragedy as there is of being caught up in one when traveling.
The other side of the world is unknown and therefore it’s scary. Despite the fact that it’s very easy to stay safe with common sense and the correct precautions.
Yes, well put Meg :) Travel can be dangerous – terrorism or not. And to sit at home, filling your mind with fear from the propaganda that is constantly flooding the tv, news and internet, would be a complete waste of energy.
I say travel, always travel…but as you said, have the appropriate insurance.
Thanks for sharing.
Thankyou Dariece. I feel that this really needed to be said. So many people canceling their travel plans in the wake of a crisis like France. It’s such a shame that people are so vulnerable to propaganda and willing to base their everyday lives around what they hear on TV.
As you said, travel, though just make sure you travel having taken safety precautions.
I can’t see myself travelling less, though I am more aware of my surroundings, or I at least try to be. The thing is, everywhere feels safe … until something happens and it’s not. There is no easy way to predict were ‘safe’ is.
Excellent – so pleased to hear that Carol. It really does come down to being aware of your surroundings and just taking common sense approaches when it comes to safety abroad.
I completely agree with you that everywhere is safe until something happens. And unless you’re an extremist planning an attack, you’re never going to know when or where it may happen. We can’t let the fear of being caught in the wrong place at the wrong time dictate how we live. Precautions and common sense are key.
To be honest some of this things I always do, no matter if it is dangerous area or not. It could be safe before and accidental change in one day. What I don’t want to do to is thinking about it too much, prepare like everywhere are terrorists. I want to travel as I traveled before. I don’t want to show any fear to people who want as to feel like that.
Absolutely Ollie – taking these kind of approaches to safety should really be part of your everyday travels normally, and it’s so important to remember that each of these attacks are isolated events, terrorism may be more prevalent than they have been in the past, though they’re not everywhere as the media would like us to believe, and to change our travel habits because of isolated events is giving them far too much power and control over our lives.
Awesome job Meg with this post. I wrote my last post inspired by these horrendous terrorist attacks also. It was more just an emotional, trying to make sense of the world kind of post. Your post here is great because you provide tips and tricks to stay safe while at the same time encourage travel :) Thanks for that :) I agree whole heartedly.
Thankyou Alli – it’s definitely a sad and tragic age to be living in, though I honestly believe that this kind of violence probably did already exist in the world. It’s sadly a very human trait, though I think that we’re just hearing about it more these days because of the advance in technology.
In the past it’s taken weeks if not months for news to travel halfway across the world, where-as now we hear about it as it happens. The world is more connected than it ever has been before, therefore I think we just hear about these things now where-as int he past we hadn’t.
Thanks for the Guidence of safely traveling, I HAVE also written on some terrorist activities in europe.
You’re welcome Saeed … Glad to hear you’re writing to spread awareness too :) Safe travels