Never let fear win: Why terrorist threats won’t stop me from travelling
Another day, another terrorist attack. These past months have been shocking to say the least – from Paris to Ankara, Beirut to Istanbul, and now, this very morning, Brussels, the shadow of terrorism is looming over us all.
The initial shock is terrible, but the real effect of terrorism is what comes after. The purpose of a terrorist attack is to instill fear in our hearts, and make us think twice about every action we make. It's clear that the attacks have produced the results they wanted - Europe is in a state of panic and extreme vigilant security. Our daily lives are being altered out of this obsessive fear, and the delicate balance between security and liberty is tipping in favour of the former. From tighter border controls to closing down metros, it's clear that terror does win - at least for a while.
As a travel blogger, I’ve been asked a million times if I’ve become afraid of travelling in the wake of these attacks. The short answer to that question? A clear, defiant no.
Terrorism and Travel are NOT linked
Those people on the metro this morning on their way to work? They weren’t expecting it. Those people enjoying a concert in the Bataclan last November? No clue. The families in Beirut? Nope.
The simple truth is that you can never know when they will hit next – so why should that stop you from doing your thing? The way things are right now, going to work is just as dangerous as boarding an airplane. Even going out for a coffee with friends could prove fatal. So while it does sound scary, you might not travel and still find yourself in the middle of an attack.
So why should I not travel, why should I stop living my life, just because a few idiots have decided that killing in the name of whatever they believe in is honourable?
Of course, I’m not saying you should dive head first into the most dangerous countries in the world without any form of precaution. But the rules are simple enough: find the level of risk you’re comfortable with, research your destinations and don’t be reckless.
If I change the way I live my life, they win
OK, this can sound like childish reasoning at first, but hear me out: terrorist attacks occur for many reasons, but the one thing they always try to do is to change your life. The trauma and paranoia they spread is unbelievably effective. Fear is natural – heck, I’m scared too, despite all my bravado. The attacks have affected me more than I'd like to admit.
I fear for my friends all over Europe, I feel a shiver down my spine whenever I hear of new attacks, be it in Beirut, Hannover, or Brussels. Fear is natural, and it is an instinct that helps us survive. But living in constant fear of the unknown is what they want - and I'm not letting them have it.
If I, a self-confessed travel addict, stop doing what I love because of what they have done, they have already won. This is not a war that is fought with guns and tanks, but with hearts and attitudes. Consider my travel, then, as a pointed ‘fuck you’ to all those threatening our civilization. Small victories, right?
Travelling will trump terrorism
Most of us will never be in positions of power, or in any position which could decisively affect and possibly stop these terrorist attacks. But there is one way we can gradually beat all this hate, and that is by travelling.
It may sound trivial, but travel will change you for the better, and if you change, the people around you change. This is how change happens – one traveller at a time.
As a travel blogger and adventurer, I am incredibly grateful for the friendships forged with people from all over the world, for travel giving me the chance to know and grow, and to connect with others and myself on a deeper level, and for the chance to inspire some. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to challenge myself, fall into the deepest moments of isolation, to be vulnerable to the unknown and accept the kindness of strangers. To feel immensely, to be purely ecstatic basking in the warmth of the elements, to self-reflect, to feel utterly confused and bewildered, and to understand myself on a level I didn't before. I am a better person because I have travelled.
If you have travelled at any point in your life, you’ll understand what I just described. Travel is such an important tool for opening people’s minds, building international connections and greater empathy for the world around us. Travel helps that happen.
Do you really think we should let all that go for any reason in the world?