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VOL. 130 | NO. 229 | Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Wiedower

Lance Wiedower

Paris Remains Open for Travel

By LANCE WIEDOWER

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Paris is open for travel.

What once was an obvious statement now comes with a question mark for some travelers. After the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks that saw 129 killed and hundreds more wounded at several locations throughout Paris, canceling travel plans to the City of Light might seem prudent.

In the days following the attacks, major attractions like the Eiffel Tower were closed. Some airlines canceled flights in and out of the city. But after a few days, including three official days of mourning in all of France, Paris began returning to normal.

For Americans with travel to Paris booked or considering it for the next several months, you’re probably wondering if you should keep those plans.

First, the obvious point is terrorism can happen anywhere. Tourists still visit New York after 9/11, Spain following the 2004 Madrid train bombings and London following the 2005 Underground bombings.

I actually returned home from London about a month prior to the July 7, 2005, attack that saw suicide bombers kill 52 on London Underground trains and a double-decker bus. The three trains and one bus all had passed through King’s Cross St. Pancras, a station I had traveled through many times before the bombings on separate visits.

I visited New York less than a year after Sept. 11, and I if I could, I’d return to Paris tomorrow. In fact, I have a friend who lives in Paris who was at a restaurant just six blocks from the Bataclan Theater where nearly 100 were murdered. She has shared moments of fear, but also the resolve of Parisians to carry on.

But that resolve doesn’t necessarily help in your decision. So if you have a trip already booked and you’re unsure about following through with plans to Paris, there are some options.

Last week, many major airlines allowed passengers to change travel plans without penalty. Some hotels will waive cancellation fees.

Situations like this are why it can be good to consider travel insurance, although not all policies will cover your travel in the case of an act of terrorism.

If your travel plans are further out and you’re second-guessing Paris as a destination, keep in mind the simple odds that these atrocious events can happen anywhere. You can live in fear and never leave home, or you can get out and experience the world.

There are ways to travel safely in this age of terrorism. If traveling to a destination where you are concerned, register your travel with the government and maintain contact with the U.S. embassy there.

Leave a copy of your itinerary listing all hotels, transportation and any other important information with someone you trust back home. And do utilize Facebook’s safety feature that allows you to check in as safe. I knew my friend in Paris was safe within a couple hours of the violence there because of this feature.

Most importantly, don’t live in fear. Be smart no matter where you travel, but also don’t let these evil acts keep you from the real riches of the world.

Lance Wiedower can be reached at tripsbylance.com.

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