VOL. 132 | NO. 188 | Thursday, September 21, 2017
The Daily Traveler
Travel in Times Of High Alert
I use the alarm clock on my iPhone, which means as I turn it off I sometimes also see whatever breaking news alerts popped up overnight.
The breaking news on the morning of Sept. 15 immediately caught my attention. It was a story from the Washington Post that said something along the lines of “16 hurt in London Underground terrorist attack.”
That news alert served as the day’s first cup of coffee.
Terrorist attacks are happening much more frequently, and they’re happening in destinations I love. We spent a few days in Barcelona in June. The night of our arrival I sat on our apartment’s balcony, scrolling through Twitter when suddenly news of a terrorist attack on London Bridge hit my feed.
The next morning, we took a cab to Sagrada Familia, the massive church that is one of the city’s main tourist attractions. As we stepped out among the throng of visitors, there was a collection of police officers wearing what I could only describe as riot gear and carrying weapons that were intended to send a message.
Then in August, just two days after returning from a relaxing trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, the news hit that terrorists attacked Barcelona along the heavily visited Las Ramblas. We walked that street just two months prior.
I visited London a month before the terrorist attacks there back in 2005. In March this year, a terrorist drove a car into a crowd on Westminster Bridge, just a few dozen meters from the spot I proposed to my wife nearly 19 years before.
Paris, London, Barcelona and New York are cities I love and cities struck by terrorists. It’s a drop in the bucket, honestly.
After the Paris terrorist attacks in November 2015, I wrote that I wouldn’t let that event dictate when and where I travel. Even after all the latest terrorist attacks in familiar places, I feel the same way. But I find it more difficult to sit back and write things like, “It’s a big world, things happen anywhere, we can’t let the terrorists win, etc.” Who am I to tell people to ignore world events and travel anyway?
I’ve heard certain sportswriters say they have no right to tell fans they need to attend a game to show support for a team. I feel the same way about travel.
I do believe the more we travel, the more we learn about other people and cultures. But I also know I have no business telling anyone they must travel. It’s your money and time.
Speaking for me and my family, I know we won’t let these acts of terrorism slow our travel desires. I would love to visit Barcelona again. I hope to one day sit on a London Underground train, even after multiple acts of terrorism have occurred in those tunnels.
But, that doesn’t mean I just travel and hope for the best.
I believe I’ve become more knowledgeable of my surroundings, particularly when traveling with my son and wife. My head is on a swivel.
I’ll keep traveling, but I’ll also pay attention to my surroundings like never before.
Lance Wiedower can be reached at tripsbylance.com.