“Aren’t you afraid?”
I’ve heard that question so many times in the past – in almost every trip I take whether it is a million miles away or an 1-hour trip from home. The word “fear” keeps coming up in every conversation I have lately.
“Aren’t you terrified of solo traveling?” – “Aren’t you afraid when going on a long-haul trip?”
And as of recently, another question was to be added to the above: “Don’t the terrorist attacks all over Europe and the world scare you at all?”
Yes, they do. They absolutely petrify me. I have the same feeling of shock when hearing about how many people died at the Boston Marathon or about all the lost lives in Yemen, Beirut, Paris, Baghdad, Nigeria, Ankara, Istanbul – all due to acts of terrorism.
I freeze just for a second when hearing about a terrorist attack – that was exactly how I felt when, on March the 22nd, I heard the news about the Brussels airport bombing. I froze but I wasn’t shocked. I live in the real world, a world vulnerable and weak. I am surrounded by a thousands threats which I cannot do anything about but to avoid and attempt to limit.
These are real-world dangers that won’t stop me from traveling.
The sad news is that people, for the most part, postpone or cancel their trips due to the current atmosphere of fear and insecurity.
I’m afraid though that the really sad news is that we may not feel 100% safe ever again. What is it going to be then? How our lives are going to be? We’ll quit living, awaiting of better, safer days? I don’t think so.
I received a lot of messages this past period, mostly questions on whether someone should cancel their trips to Istanbul or Belgium because of the attacks, if a certain country is safer or if it would be smarter to visit a country outside Europe.
Unfortunately, I don’t have the answers to these questions. I am no specialist and I can’t know which countries will be safe or not.
I DO know one thing: we can’t let fear affect our everyday life.
Should you consider the acts of violence taking place all over the planet every minute that goes by, then you wouldn’t be leaving your room for, well, the rest of your life. Our world isn’t a safe place and we are well aware of that. Just like we are aware of the gun possession laws in the US but we still desperately dream about traveling in New York or California. Or the fact that La Rambla in Barcelona is the pick-pocket’s paradise on earth but visitors all over the world keep strolling around and love its atmosphere no matter what. And I’m one of them.
One of those people who choose to see the good in everything. The good in the world we live in. Traveling taught me that the world is full of kind “strangers”, people who will be more than willing to share their time and space to make you feel secure and loved. For every tragic event, there is a wonderful one taking place somewhere in the world. It’s just that fear, panic and violence make a better headline.
I’ve been to the other side of the world in countries like Panama and Colombia – countries I was convinced from friends and family that were dangerous. It was there where I met the sweetest, kind-hearted people who accepted me as if I was one of their own, cooked for me and offered their advice on the places I should and should not visit. I felt a little more blessed and happy on my way back to Greece.
That is why I won’t quit traveling and that is the reason why you shouldn’t either. It is our duty as citizens of the world to travel, meet new people, embrace different cultures and learn about new ways of living and different perspectives.
It is our duty to open up to the world, to trust and refuse to believe in stereotypes of any kind, to stop racism and overcome all the obstacles and borders separating us. How is it possible to do that if not by traveling?
We can create bonds, build trustful relationships, understand and respect different cultures, only by having the will and patience to do so in a loving, non-judgmental way. We should stand united, hold hands and move forward together to a new worldt by trusting one another.
To do that, all we have to do is get to know each other. To know each other, we should be able to understand and willing to create bonds. The most sincere, true, unmistakable way to create meaningful relationships is non other than traveling.
So please, dear reader, do not stop traveling, do not cancel your trip. I wish I could say that the world is a safe place. But I can’t.
Traveling to countries such as France or Belgium is risky. And you should probably avoid visiting countries like Syria, Afghanistan or Yemen but remember: our whole life is a risk. Every time you leave your house, you become vulnerable. When driving on the highway, you are equally vulnerable. You don’t stay at home though. Right?
Same goes for traveling. They may be risky but so is everything in life – isn’t it? Just like you don’t quit living, you shouldn’t quit traveling either.
So, don’t quit traveling. You’ll have the chance to learn more about the world and yourself. They’ll make you an open, giving, selfless human being.
Don’t quit traveling out of fear. The only thing you’ll achieve that way is giving the terrorists exactly what they want: a terrified society, full of fear and hatred for everyone different.
Remember. Fear is not the answer. Fear won’t take you anywhere, won’t help you evolve.
Keep traveling and keep trusting people. That is what I’ll do too.