The World is Not Safe – But You Should Explore it Anyway

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There's a lot of scary stuff going on in the world these days – terrorism attacks in major cities; a refugee/immigration crisis that's become polarizing in Europe; out-of-control gun violence and racial profiling in the Unites States.

It seems like every time I turn on the news or check Facebook, something else disturbing has happened. Bombings. Shootings. Ignorant attacks. Intolerance. Fear.

Some people argue that the world is just becoming more dangerous; that there's more murder and rape and other forms of violence now than ever before. And, as a woman who often travels alone, I would be stupid to ignore or brush off these arguments. Because it's true that you DO have to be a little more vigilant when traveling these days – and especially when traveling as a woman.

Amanda at Moraine Lake

Is the world dangerous? Is travel dangerous?

Well, the world is definitely not safe. But it never has been. For as long as history has been recorded, we humans have oppressed, killed, and waged war against one another. In every corner of the globe, there have always been catalysts to violence; reasons why we just can't seem to get along.

So yes, the world can be a dangerous place.

But you shouldn't let that stop you from exploring it.

Virginia Kendall Ledges at Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Here are four reasons why you should still travel, even with all the craziness happening in the world:

LIFE is dangerous

Watch the news or listen to people on social media, and you might be convinced that terrorists are lurking around every corner “out there.” But, in reality, terrorism attacks are rare in most parts of the world – and to be caught in one as a tourist is highly unlikely. Here are everyday things that you are MUCH more likely to die from:

  • Cows (kill roughly 20 Americans per year*)
  • Getting struck by lightning (47 Americans per year*)
  • Driving your car (roughly 37,000 deaths in the US per year*)
  • Your own body (in the US, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes kill more than a million people every year*)

(In case you're curious, according to the U.S. State Department, 3,380 Americans have died in acts of terrorism both at home and abroad between 2001 and 2013 – and that includes the 9/11 attack. Only 350 U.S. citizens have been killed overseas as a result of incidents of terrorism during that time.)

Cape Town from above
I was probably much more in danger in this helicopter over Cape Town than I was wandering the city's streets.

And for those who worry about being kidnapped, raped, or murdered while traveling abroad? I'm not saying that it never happens. But you are far, far more likely to fall victim to this kind of violence at home (often at the hands of someone you know) than you are as a traveler.

Life in general can be dangerous. But just because more than 100 people will die today in a car crash in the U.S., will that stop you from driving to work or the grocery store? Of course not. So why should fear keep you from traveling?

Travel encourages tolerance and acceptance

Travel is one of the most educational experiences a person can enjoy outside of school. And not only will it help you learn about history and cultural traditions first-hand, but travel also helps you discover the number one lesson I've learned after years of exploring the world: people, regardless of religion or race or cultural background, really do want essentially the same things.

No matter if you're in Canada or Cambodia, people want to feel safe and happy and want to be able to provide for their families. It's really that simple.

New friends in Vietnam
Kids want to play and take selfies no matter where they're from.

The more I travel, the more I realize that we really are more similar than we are different. And that knowledge has lead to a greater acceptance of all people, and I think has made me a more tolerant person overall. There are many stereotypes out there when it comes to people from different cultures and backgrounds, and I think travel is one of the best ways to shatter a lot of them.

If only more people would be open to leaving the confines of their country's borders…

Travel can make you LESS fearful

This ties into travel making us more tolerant, too, because a big part of tolerance is learning not to fear things we don't fully understand. As your mind opens up to other ways of thinking and living, you begin to be less fearful of the world “out there.”

We live in a world right now where bad news seems to be everywhere. And it's easy to assume from all this bad news that the world is only getting more scary by the day. But if you actually go out and experience that world and realize that you feel safe far more often than you feel threatened, some of that fear can be silenced.

Sailing on Lake Erie

You learn that not every person in Muslim-leaning countries hates Americans – or even Christians, for that matter. You learn that a lot of the fearmongering you see in the media is just that – we don't have to be terrified of life beyond our borders, because not everyone is out to get us.

You become a global citizen

The more you travel, the more personal connections you make with the places you're visiting and the people you're meeting. So when something terrible happens in France or Turkey or any other place that you've been and fallen in love with, it suddenly hits a lot harder.

Travel can make us more compassionate about things happening to other people. If you never leave your hometown, it's easy to look at victims of terrorism and violence through a screen of “otherness” – those people are different than you, and therefore you don't feel any real connection to them. But when you're shared meals and laughs with people from that place or culture, it suddenly makes it more real. Because those people really aren't much different from you, and you realize that it could happen to anyone.

Standing on the Giants Causeway
Travel helps you imagine your feet in someone else's shoes.

The term “global citizen” is one without a concrete definition, but to me it means being aware of what's going on in the world and actually *caring* about it.

So, can I promise you that nothing bad will happen to you if you book that dream trip? No, of course I can't. But I also can't promise you that you'll be perfectly safe driving to work tomorrow or having a drink at your favorite bar.

Life is too short to be afraid of the world – just get out there and explore it.

What's your take? Have you let any recent events affect your travel plans?

 

Don't let fear stop you from traveling

 

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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68 Comments on “The World is Not Safe – But You Should Explore it Anyway

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  1. When I was walking through the tall grass in Vietnam’s central highlands (during the war) I was cheered by the knowledge
    40,000 drivers and passengers were killed every year on American highways Statistics were all in my favor–nothing to worry about, right?

      While I certainly would never want to minimize the experience of a veteran who fought in a war, the purpose of this post is not to compare tourism to being drafted into a war zone. The two are very different things.

    I agree, the world is scary, now more than it ever was but my desire to travel hasnt lessened. As a travel blogger i fight every day publishing blogs about travel and having people saying i am irresponsible and we should all be staying inside for the next year. How do you deal with this?

      I think we do have some responsibility right now to encourage people to be safe – but I also know that people often plan trips months or years in advance, so I’ve still been posting travel content. You’ll never please everyone. For me, I’ve been trying to share info and encourage people to think about traveling “later” when I share my content on social media. The blog though? After taking a break from publishing destination-focused content early on in the pandemic, I’ve gone back to writing more “normal” content that I hope people can use later.

    I Take It That any are’nt afraid of The coronavirus out There

      We’re still learning about the coronavirus of course. But as of the end of January 2020, the fatality rate of coronavirus is actually quite low; far more people die every year from catching the regular flu. I actually think it’s pretty terrible how the media are covering this “outbreak;” it’s a lot of fearmongering so far.

    those 2 poor girls that died in morocco through exactly like you. too late for them now. even posted things like you did. and one even made a youtube video about not fearing traveling. ignorance kills people. and what a terrible death those poor souls had been though. so sad.

      It’s not ignorance, though. If you look at statistics – actual factual numbers and not just people’s feelings about them – it was statistically NOT likely for those two girls to have died. They had a much higher chance of dying in a car crash or by the hand of a partner at home. It was tragic, yes, but I certainly don’t let incidents like that scare me off of traveling.

        first sorry for my poor english. also am not trying to be aggressive here. but is it possible to show the other side of the coin or just point out the positives? i get that danger is everywhere but not the same level. you say that the press inflate the bad things out of proportions. but sometimes they hide it or portray it as mild crime! you cannot call rapes and beheadings as “being stabbed”. i can start listing people and groups and couples dying because they wanted to show that it’s safe to travel and there should be no fear! but then i will have to write an essay. and i have facts if you want. don’t get me wrong here. traveling is learning and advancing but not everywhere is the same. not everyone wants to harm you but some places as just inhospitable! many people would be alive today and it’s sad they are not just because… p.s am not trying to make you angry and sorry if i did but it’s sad to say yes go wherever you like and just take precisions. all the facts i have, they all did and still are not with us anymore. it’s not just feelings. it’s facts.

          I write a lot about traveling as a female, but I ALWAYS address safety concerns, and I don’t promote travel to places that I don’t feel are safe to visit. Have a look around my site if you want to get a feel for the content I write other than this one specific post! My “job” as a travel blogger is to make travel easier for people. I address safety concerns, but I also encourage people to get out there and see the world. Bad things can happen ANYWHERE, and generally tourists are NOT targeted any more than local people (hence why I really don’t feel like I’m doing anything extra dangerous by traveling).

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