Q – Is this really the right time to be thinking about traveling to Europe? We have some concerns about traveling this summer but we really want to go on our planned cruise. What are you advising and how do you handle this question with your clients?
A – For most travelers, whether or not to travel to any destination is a heady mix of emotion, anticipation, a bit of natural fear, and rational thinking about gain and loss. So we think there is no simple answer and we do not want to be seen as salesmen for the notion that you should always travel no matter what. If your fears reach the point where you find it impossible to truly look forward to your journey, we would suggest considering cancellation.
We have just had a terrorist event in Brussels at two locations that has resulted in more than 30 deaths and hundreds of injuries. Yet, the small restaurants that surround the Maelbeerk train station reopened in 24 hours and the streets of Brussels are filled with local residents who refuse to live their lives in fear. The people of Paris held huge banners that said “We are not afraid” immediately after the recent attacks in their city. We think we must never “Be Afraid” If we are, then those who would threaten us out of envy would win. Here is what we think you might consider before deciding “Should I Go or Should I Stay.”
THE FACTS: It is a head/heart thing. The 24-Hour News cycle thrives on tragedy. It gives the terrorists the kind of notoriety they seek. But we are always going to make the best decisions in an atmosphere of calm, using our heads to examine the facts. Here is one worth remembering. Right now, in the world as it exists, you are 1,052 times more likely to die in an automobile accident than you are in a terrorist act while traveling abroad. You are four times more likely to be struck by lightning than you are by a terrorist act. Your life expectancy actually goes up when you travel in Europe because you are not in the country with one of the highest murder rates in the world and one of the highest rates of fatal automobile accidents.
But some folks want even more specifics. So here are a few worth remembering although there are dozens of others that we could have listed:
- Your chance of dying in any kind of worldwide terrorist attack is 1 in 9.3 million
- Your chance of dying from a food poisoning is 1 in 3 million
- Your chance of dying from a dog bite is 1 in 700,000
- Your chance of dying from a car accident is 1 in 18,585
- Your chance of dying in your own bathtub is 1 in 685,000
CONCLUSION: Unless you plan to stay off American roads, not walk in our cities or suburbs, stay away from dogs and refuse to bathe, you might as well take that trip to Europe of wherever else you wish to travel. Staying home really is considerably more dangerous.
If you want to look at all this in another way consider: The reason that your life expectancy will increase if you travel to Europe, the statistical reason, is that life expectancy is based on the odds that an act that will kill you will occur. The major cause of death in America is Cancer and Heart Disease. They are travel “neutral” You must look at the other major causes of death in our country, dying in an automobile accident and being shot by our 2nd Amendment. Your life expectancy increases when you travel abroad because you are away from American drivers and gun-toting morons. You are considerably safer traveling than staying home. And that is a fact.
PROTECTING YOURSELF WHEN YOU TRAVEL ABROAD: We want you to avoid bad neighborhoods. Every city has them – well not every city, Dubai and Abu Dhabi are virtually crime-free. You need to have a sense of neighborhood when working with your consultant to book hotels. Inexpensive hotels skimp on security – avoid them. If you are staying in a major city with a threat that concerns you, avoid US chain hotels and select a good five-star locally-owned property.
INSURANCE: You can always take out a “Cancel for Any Reason” top-end policy. The best of these, in our view, is the Maxi-Policy issued by Travelex. But be aware that the premium for such coverage averages 10-11% of the total cost of your trip.
USE A TRAVEL CONSULTANT WHO IS A MEMBER OF ONE OF THE TOP CONSORTIUMS: They will have access to daily security updates from their on-site offices around-the-world. Using one of these consultants is your best chance of receiving updated, accurate information about your destination.
IF YOU WISH TO DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH THINK OF THE AUSSIES: Our own State Department memos and warnings are often over-stated and issued in an attempt to cover all bases. Savvy travelers, instead, look to security announcements online issued by the Australian Foreign Office for their own citizens. They tend to be more accurate than ours. The British Foreign Office also issued worthwhile reports updating local conditions abroad.