According to Rick Steves, the host of public television’s “Rick Steve’s Europe”, the odds of being killed by a terrorist attack overseas or in the air are 1 in 2,200,000. The odds of being struck by lightening are 1 in 600,000 and the chances that you’ll be killed by gunfire in United States are 1 in 18,900. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise caution, however.
Unless you have an overwhelming fear to travel (in which case you should cancel or postpone your trip), it’s generally safe to travel to most countries. It’s probably a good idea to avoid those areas known for consistent and multiple terrorist attacks. Even if you’ve chosen a relatively safe destination, however, it is important to make sure that travel warning doesn’t arise before you depart.
There is also the question of airline safety. While stories circulate throughout the media about people being able to breach airport security and are able to get bombs and other weapons onboard airplanes, how common is this? Before the September 11 attacks, according to Douglas Brattobo, the airport security system was in “complete shambles.” Because contractors were trying to save money, they cut as many corners as they could and this caused a high turnover rate in airport security employees. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), put into full control of airport security after the 9-11 attacks have begun a more standardized, controlled method of ensuring airport and airplane safety. With that said, it’s still up to you to use common sense when traveling and to report any suspicious behavior to airport officials.
Once you arrive at your destination, you can take some steps to help you stay safe. If you are still concerned about the possibility of a terrorist attack, remember that most terrorists will attack places known for high traffic (such as tourist attractions) or of high prestige or power (such as embassies, high-end hotels and political buildings). Avoiding such areas can help reduce your risk of becoming a victim of an attack.
There are other things you can do to help increase your safety while traveling in a foreign country. While it’ll be nearly impossible to hide the fact that you are a tourist, do what you can to not stand out in a crowd. Follow local customs of appropriate dress and behavior to not draw attention to yourself and be wary of discussing your travel plans with strangers. Be sure to scope out a few safe havens so that you’ll know where you can turn if trouble does arise.
If you take the right precautions, do your research, avoid highly troublesome areas, and exercise caution while on vacation, you’ll soon find yourself on your way to a fun and relaxing vacation!
Sources: U.S. Department of State (travel.state.gov)
Rick Steves Europe (www.ricksteves.com)
Douglas M. Brattebo (“Federalizing Airport Security is a Necessary
Response to Terrorist Threats”. Debating the War on Terrorism.
Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.)
Tips to Help You Protect Yourself from Terrorist Attacks and Their Aftermaths
- When traveling, make two copies of your passport and leave one with a trusted friend or relative. Take the other with you and keep it in a separate place from your original.
- Before traveling to a foreign country, take some time to learn about the culture of your destination so that you don’t find yourself violating cultural norms and getting the “locals” upset with you.
www.rubystone.com has several product to help keep you safe while on travel:
“The Activated Doorknob Alarm” and “Personal Alarms”
This high-tech security alarm transforms an ordinary doorknob into a highly sensitive burglar alarm. In order to gain easy access to your home burglars will first try your doors to see if they are unlocked. If a burglar touches your outside doorknob this device will instantly emit a loud alarm to scare him away and alert you to the attempted entry. Unlike other alarms, the burglar will be stopped before he enters your home. Even if he is wearing gloves, the alarm will sound as soon as the outside doorknob is touched. No installation required: simply hang on the inside doorknob of any wooden door. Please note that this alarm will only work on wooden doors. As an additional deterrent, an alarm warning decal is included. Requires one 9 volt battery (not included).