I woke up Tuesday morning to a text from a co-worker telling me about the attacks on Brussels. At that point in time it was still unraveling and the death and injury count was continuing to climb. I first felt saddened and then I felt angry.
It’s not just Belgium that is being threatened and attacked, it’s all over the globe. You have Paris, the Ivory Coast, Turkey, Beirut, Baghdad, California…the list could go on forever. The entire world is living in a constant state of fear thinking, “Who is next? Will I be a victim of one of these attacks?”
With these questions comes the question that I want to touch on: “Should I be traveling with everything that is going on?”
Let me answer that question for you…YES!
These attacks can happen anywhere, anytime, to anyone. Every time they occur, we feel a sense of concern and sadness for the victims of these events. We question how do the families deal with this type of situation? What did these people do to deserve this? How could people be so cruel in a world that is naturally beautiful and so full of hope and wonder? When all of that concern goes away, another feeling or two kicks in; fear and anger.
We fear that we may potentially be in harm’s way due to recent events and have an instinct to just stay in our house. We fear that if we do anything out of the ordinary, we can be killed because we just happened to be enjoying the one life we have to live. We worry about our safety to the point where stepping out of the house is a risk.
For people like myself, I feel the fear but I also feel the anger. What motivates people to think its okay to take the lives of innocent and vulnerable people? What makes your life so awful that you attack cities for attention?
Traveling is one of the brightest lights in my life. It exposes me to everything new. I feel if people traveled more, there would not be so much hate. Each culture and country has their differences but we are all human. If we took a moment to really experience and absorb the differences in the world, there would be a bigger sense of understanding and equality.
Being so involved in the travel industry (I work for a tour operator based in Boston), I see the thought processes of all types of travelers. The adventurous ones, the scared ones, the cranky ones, the thankful ones. You name it, I have talked to them. What surprises me most is when people cancel the trip of a lifetime due to terrorism. By not traveling, you are letting the terrorists win. They want you to be afraid. They want you to stay home. They are looking for the power that you give them. I am not saying you are wrong for being fearful but do not let that stop you from living the life that you dream of. Keep your head up and your eyes open. The media will do everything in their power to make a bad story even worse. You need to follow your instincts. Do not ignore travel warning, we aware of them. Most importantly, do not just hop on a plane because you feel like it. Do your research. Read the news but take it lightly. Use locals as a resource and talk to them!
While there is so much hate and violence in this world, just think of all the greatness and love that is also present. Think of feelings you get when you step off the plane in a city you have never been or a place you love. It is one of the greatest feelings of all time. A feeling of wanderlust. There are people in every inch of this world who want to do, be, and see great things. Just think about the people who have helped you through your journeys whether it’s giving you a place to stay or directions to a great cafe. Think about the friends you have made in the places you have visited. At the local pubs, on the streets, even on the subway. These people allow us to really experience what it is we live for.
Those people and those experiences is why we cannot stop traveling. Do not let them win. Live out your dreams as we are only given one life. You do not know what tomorrow will bring so live your life the way you WANT to, not the way you are expected to. We need to continue to meet new people and experience their cultures and lifestyles.
My goal is to continue to understand other cultures as much as possible. In a way, it is kind of like a responsibility more than a hobby to know the world we are apart of. It is evident in everyday life there are so many different cultures throughout the world and the only way to understand them is to be curious and adventurous. To get on that plane and just go. To have the patience to interact with the locals, to be open-minded, and to be there for those that are there for us.
Traveling is the only way for us to really understand the world we live in. We cannot live in fear or the world will never change. Be cautious but if you have a dream, just live it. Do not cancel your flights, your train, your rental car. You would rather live a life full of excitement, fear, and learning experiences than not live at all. In a world full of hatred, find love, compassion, and kindness. Those things go a long way when reflecting on your travels. They are the things you remember most. Traveling right now, in this moment in time, may be one of the most important life decisions you will ever make.
“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” -Anonymous