I wrote about this topic a few months ago, but after being in America and hearing the question “Aren’t you scared of traveling in Europe with the recent terror attacks?” over and over again, I thought I’d clear things up.
I believe this was spawned not only from press coverage of the attacks, but from the recent warning from the US government:
The State Department alerts U.S. citizens to potential risks of travel to and throughout Europe following several terrorist attacks, including the March 22 attacks in Brussels claimed by ISIL.
Terrorist groups continue to plan near-term attacks throughout Europe, targeting sporting events, tourist sites, restaurants, and transportation. This Travel Alert expires on June 20, 2016.
U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using mass transportation. Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid crowded places. Exercise particular caution during religious holidays and at large festivals or events.
While I admittedly would not take a vacation to Turkey’s border with Syria at the moment, business in much of Europe is…business as usual.
This brings me to another point, that warning against travel “throughout Europe” seems to be an overstatement.
Of course, I’m not privy to security intelligence, but Europe is a big place, and many countries, especially in eastern Europe, are on the lowest threat levels.
In fact, in terms of safety, I felt relieved when landing back in the UK from the States.
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Do Americans realize that the same way they are scared of the news on terrorism in Europe, Europeans are equally scared of the news on constant shootings and gun violence in America?
Every time anyone remotely sketchy put their hand in their pocket when I was in Florida, I flinched.
Every single time, they pulled out a smartphone.
But in that brief moment, I was convinced it would be a gun.
Do Americans stop going to movie theaters and malls because someone can easily come in and take their life?
In fact, I saw more coverage of terrorism in Europe while in America than I do living in Europe.
Most media outlets, but especially American media, can be alarmist.
When people asked me questions about my safety in Europe, it felt as if they thought that my friends and colleagues would all be huddled together every morning discussing any potentially threatening situation we were in on our morning commute.
In reality, we’re talking about last night’s episode of Gogglebox and that annoying woman who would not stop talking on her cellphone on the train.
No, I am not scared of traveling in Europe.
Am I aware?
Do I pay attention to my surroundings?
But do I feel any less safe in Europe than I do at giant American theme parks and airports and gatherings?
I can understand American fear of traveling to Europe in the current climate based on warnings like these, and I am fully in support of being cautious, but your chances of being involved in an attack are so microscopically low that it seems silly to cancel or alter any travel plans you might have.
Those of us who live here are carrying on as normal, commuting to work on the underground with our partners and friends, getting dinner at our favorite restaurant on a Friday night in central London/Paris/Barcelona, and booking tickets to concerts and plays and sporting events that we’re excited to go to.
Many cities across Europe are beautiful places to be in the summer, and (after consulting with my wallet), I can’t wait to explore them in the upcoming months.
I hope you do too.