Keep Calm and Keep On Traveling!

So there’s been another horrific terrorist attack in France. But more than just being angry for the loss of life, I’m angry that these atrocities are beginning to make people wonder if they should abandon their travel dreams to this amazing place. They are close to missing out on the experience of a lifetime because of the fear these attacks instill. I’ll likely be traveling to France this fall for travel writing assignments, and I can tell you I feel completely confident in my safety, moreso than I feel in my own home city. Why? I’ll get to that in a minute.

People are scared. I get it, trust me. People see the carnage on TV and get scared. I’m a practicing psychotherapist in my non traveling time and, as a student of human nature, I can tell you that it is the randomness, the unpredictability of such a strike, that scares us. It’s hardwired into our nature to be frightened by the unpredictability of bad events. Human brains really don’t like unpredictability or the feelings of impotence in the face of unpredictable threats. That’s why humans have been trying to impose meaning on nonsensical events since the dawn of time, such as blaming angry gods for droughts, plague, and floods, etc and trying to mollify them with sacrifices. This fear is what terrorists generally prey on.

There’s the old saying of, “if you let yourself be intimidated, the terrorists win”, but this doesn’t really address the issue of chance. So at my travel seminars I say this: While we cannot predict when and where such an atrocity will occur, we can take great solace in the indisputable fact that that the likelihood of fining yourself in the middle of such a calamity is infinitesimal. You have a better chance of being hit by a meteor. It is a similar dynamic with plane crashes; they make the news when it happens, of course, but your chances of being in one are infinitesimal. Yet most people will get on a plane with little concern. So it should be with travel. Visitors should make the most of their trip, since whatever happens is equally out of our control, whether we’re in our own neighborhood or 3,000 miles from home.

And yes, France is SAFE. This is a provable fact given how many people die/are injured in terrorist attacks in France per year relative to the entire population of citizens and travelers there at any given time. So I urge people to use their cognition to combat their irrational fear, to put their natural emotions in their proper place. In other words, adopt perspective.

If they do, they’ll realize they are just as safe there as in their own neighborhood (if not safer, as Europe has a lower violent crime rate the the U.S.). Additionally, Additionally, though many are unaware of it, France has some of the best internal security services in Europe, since they’ve been dealing with a very restive Muslim population for a long, long time. Frankly you’re infinitely more likely to be pickpocketed that top be killed by a terrorist in Europe. So wear a money belt and you’ll be fine!

Oh, and if you’d like a bit of help crafting that dream itinerary, let me know! Just click here.