Terrorism attacks show up on the news weekly, so more and more people tend to see traveling as a dangerous business. These attacks happen everywhere, from concerts to marathons and hotels, so there is virtually no way to foresee them. In this situation, how can you stay safe on the road?
The probability of being a victim is low
The reality is you are more likely to die at home, while taking a bath, rather than in a terrorist attack. And it’s the numbers that show us this: in US the risk of drowning in the bathtub is about one in 800,000, while the risk of being killed in a terrorist attack is one in 20 million!
While the probability of a terrorist attack happening in a country you are visiting could be high, the probability of you becoming a victim of it is low. We know there are going to be terrorist attacks in Europe in the next 6-12 months, but this doesn’t mean you are going to be a victim of one of these attacks. We also know there are going to be hundreds, if not more, car crashes in the next two months – does it mean you are going to be the victim of one of them? No!
Know the real dangers
Speaking of car crashes, these are in fact one of the real dangers of traveling. The probability of being injured in a terrorism attack is low, but the probability of being injured while riding the bus is high. Car accidents, diseases and sun exposure are some of the real dangers of traveling. We tend to overlook them, because they are not as obvious as a terrorism attack and they are rarely news material, but these are the real dangers you should protect from.
Don’t take unnecessarily risks
When you fear something, you are prone to making bad choices. For example, when you are afraid of a terrorist attack you might avoid planes. Or you might forget about the sunscreen when you fear norovirus. The examples are unlimited. A friend of mine was traveling in the week after the Charlie Hebdo attack in France and out of fear of a terrorism attack he chose to check in at a hostel in a remote area of Paris. He quickly found out it was a bad decision: taxi drivers were always taking “shortcuts” to the route, driving on dark and deserted streets. My friend saw how dangerous it was for him; far more dangerous than it would have been to walk by the place where the Hebdo attack had taken place.
Focus on minimizing the risks you can control
There are risks you can control and risks you can’t control. Catching a local disease because you forgot to immunize yourself is in the first category, being caught in a terrorist attack is in the second one. Focus on minimizing the risks you can control, at least partially. You never know if or where a terrorism attack will take place, like you don’t know if or where an earthquake will strike. You can’t do anything about them. But you can drive safely if you are riding across a country on a bike, you can pack an emergency kit, you can get insurance and vaccination. Focus on these to stay safe on the road.
It’s all in your mind
What makes terrorist attacks so powerful is the psychological pressure they put on the masses. You never know when the next one will take place, so you live in constant fear. This is exactly what makes you vulnerable. To be able to stand up to terrorism you have to ditch this fear. Stop thinking of what could happen and start thinking of what will definitely happen, for example your next trip.
Relying on the past to foresee the future is not a working method when it comes to terrorism, so you can only live your life the way you want, taking all the safety measures you can take (vaccination, emergency kit, insurances) and continue to travel the world.