Be aware - not afraid

The world stage today is a source of anxiety and apprehension for many, especially when it comes to international travel. People are delaying, rerouting, or full out cancelling pre-arranged travel plans in reaction to recent events in Europe.

In my role as a luxury travel advisor, I have had many discussions with hesitant travellers, and over the course of the last few months, this is what I’ve shared:

The world as we knew it has changed, and it’s not likely to change back anytime soon. Unless you’re prepared to forgo all travel for the foreseeable future, it’s time we took the fear out of the decision-making process. It’s time to deal with the realities.

Let me throw some numbers at you. I realize this only addresses the intellectual side of fear, but these are the realities:

The number of Americans killed overseas by incidents of terrorism from 2001 to 2013 was 350. 

During the same time period, over 3000 were killed by attacks within the US. 

Compare that to the annual death toll on American highways – 19,000. 

The annual death toll from falls – 6,000.  

The annual death toll from excessive use of alcohol – 80,000.  

Note that I haven’t even mentioned guns or domestic violence. 

The global mortality rate of death by terrorism is 1 in 12.5 million. 

The single biggest cause of death for Canadians while travelling abroad? Motor vehicle accidents.

Would you allow the chance of an earthquake, volcano eruption, flood, or firestorm to dictate if and where you would travel? Likely not. 

We placate ourselves with the understanding that these are natural occurrences, and things over which we have no control or predictability. However, it may surprise you to know that in 2013 alone, over 20,000 people lost their lives in such a way.

The emotional side of fear is based on the unknown. We are more afraid of risks that are new and unfamiliar, and of risks that kill or maim in gruesome ways. We are also more afraid of man-made threats than natural ones.

The media creates a mass hysteria when sensationalizing spectacular events, and at times will deliberately mislead people.

There is a big difference between fear and actual risk. It’s as impossible to rationalize where and when the next terrorist attack is going to take place as it is to predict where the next lightning strike will be. 

It makes no sense to avoid huge swaths of the globe out of a misperception that your risk of injury is greater in certain areas. Your actual risk of injury has not increased, it is your fear that has increased.

Accept that there will be more terrorist attacks (just as there will be more car crashes) but know that your chance of being involved in one is so incredibly slim that it’s not worth worrying about. 

Accept that we are never truly in control of everything in our lives. Our lives as we know it can change or end at any point in time. Embrace life and its opportunities with an open mind and optimistic perspective.  

Irrational fears have no place in dictating how you choose to live your life. Far better to live life learning about and exploring this beautiful world in which we live.

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About the Author

Joy has long been a believer in the art of travel: the belief that a vacation is something to be anticipated savored and then long remembered as one of life’s great adventures. 
Website: thejoyoftravel.ca

You can contact Joy at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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