Terrorism and Travelling

Michaela Wagland explores why we shouldn’t let the fear of terrorism prevent travelling.

 Earlier this year, The Daily Telegraph published a powerful front page that tugged on heart strings and fuelled rage. It was the day after the Bastille Day attacks in Nice, where 84 people tragically lost their lives. The headline read:

“84 DEAD IN NICE, 281 DEAD IN BAGHDAD, 49 DEAD IN ORLANDO, 72 DEAD IN LAHORE, 35 DEAD IN BRUSSELS, 18 DEAD IN GRAND-BASSAM, 12 DEAD IN JAKARTA…”

Underneath those words was an image of a covered child’s body, with a doll laying just beside them. The article then began with another headline, “It never stops, the world mourns another terror attack.”

 It is confronting isn’t it, the realisation of how many lives are being lost for no reason other than the barbaric act of terrorism. Is it fair then to question whether the fear of terrorism is stopping us from travelling?

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade offers a Smartraveller Guide to advise prospective travellers on which countries are safe to venture to and which are not. At a time where countries all over the world are being subjected to horrendous acts of terror all too frequently, it is a guide to be taken seriously.

Acts of terrorism never cease to shock us. Every time we read that somewhere in the world is suffering at the hands of terror, we feel for many. We feel for innocent children who lost their lives, we feel for those who lost loved ones, we feel for those who have lost their homes and all their belongings. We feel for those in countries where the fear of terrorism is something they must live with every day. How brave these people must be.

And it is this bravery that we must recognise. We can’t let fear prevent us from seeing the world, let me explain why.

The Smartraveller Guide shouldn’t enhance any fears; it is a tool for us to utilise. Yes, there are places that are listed as ‘Reconsider your need for travel’ and simply, ‘Do not travel’, but this is for our protection. There are places within the world where the atmosphere is just too volatile for a holiday.

Travelling to various parts of the world requires vigilance and, realistically, there is always an element of risk. Travelling requires you to be aware of your surroundings, to find places and people you can trust. Even without the fear of a terror attack, you should always be aware of everything around you, what you say and what you do.

As a travel blogger for the Huffington Post stated, “You know what I hate about fear? The fact that we put so much power in the idea or potential threat of something that hasn’t happened yet.”

This is not to downplay the nature of any threat itself. We are told that terrorist attacks may be imminent and essentially they can occur at any time, within any part of the world.

It is the sad truth that we can’t deny this. 2016 has seen the deaths of innocent people in Nice, Munich, Brussels and Istanbul just to name a few. Not to mention the frightening atrocities of the Paris Attacks last year. It seemed unnatural, and those who weren’t there cannot begin to understand what it must have been like.

But this fear is what causes the people who commit such violence to seem powerful. As Waleed Aly for The Project Australia stated about ISIL, “They want you to get angry, they want you to fear them.”

There is such good in this world and we deserve to witness what other countries and other cultures have to offer. As travellers we just have to be smart and come together to navigate our travel plans in a world that seems unsafe. We must know the places we can go and the places we may have to take off your bucket list for a while.

As one French man, Angel Le, told his young son following the Paris attacks last year, “There are bad guys everywhere… They might have guns, but we have flowers.”

Feature Image: fdecomite, via Flickr, no changes made.