At the start of the year my mother pleaded with me “LaToya, please do me a favor. Don’t leave the U.S. this year”. I promised her I wouldn’t and that I would only travel within the U.S. However, only 2 months would go by before this changed (I’m sorry mom), she had a valid reason to be concerned.
Last August, I took my first trip to Asia (Thailand). While my trip turned out to be an amazing cultural experience, I was in complete shock once I returned home. I got back to New York on a Saturday afternoon and the very next day, I was receiving back-to-back phone calls and text messages from family and close friends. I had no idea what was going on (I was seriously jet-lagged). Apparently, there was a bombing in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. To make matters worse the bombers were specifically targeting areas most visited by tourists.
My heart dropped when I turned the channel to global news, I was in complete disbelief. I just left the city 15 hours’ prior and was definitely in those same touristy areas. I reassured all my loved ones that I was safe, sound and no longer in Thailand. My heart ached for those who were not as fortunate. How could the world be so evil?
It’s now February 2016 and I just confirmed my flight to Europe. I was so excited for my upcoming girls’ trip and even more excited to explore cities that I’ve never traveled to before. Geneva, Switzerland; Milan, Italy and Chamonix, France were on the agenda. It was then that I realized which airline I was exactly flying on. My girlfriend purchased her flight first so I just booked on the same airline as her. My heart sunk when I realized we would be flying with Turkish Airlines.
Turkey was just in the news 3 weeks’ prior about recent attacks and turmoil in Istanbul. My thoughts instantly went to my time in Bangkok…man not again. I decided not to say anything to my family or close friends. I didn’t want them to worry.
I went on my trip (only 3 weeks ago now) and created incredible memories…11 days later there was another attack in Istanbul, Turkey.
As an avid traveler I would be lying if I didn’t say that I was afraid to travel internationally again. As of March 22, 2016 the U.S. Department of State(U.S. Passports & International Travel) issued a travel alert for Europe. Turkey and a long list of other countries are on there too. In the last 2 weeks, there has been other acts of terrorism in Brussels, Belgium; Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso and Lahore, Pakistan. I highly suggest that you check out their website before your next international trip. There you will see the countries that has been placed on the travel alerts or travel warnings list.
Directly from the U.S. Department of State:
"We issue a Travel Warning when we want you to consider very carefully whether you should go to a country at all. Examples of reasons for issuing a Travel Warning might include unstable government, civil war, ongoing intense crime or violence, or frequent terrorist attacks. We want you to know the risks of traveling to these places and to strongly consider not going to them at all. Travel Warnings remain in place until the situation changes; some have been in effect for years."
In the travel community we are constantly discussing how America’s media outlets seem to be discouraging our fellow citizens from traveling internationally by highlighting everything that is going wrong in other countries. Nonetheless, fear is a strong emotion, so I understand any hesitation.
However, at the same time you can’t truly live life to the fullest if you’re constantly fearful of the unknown, because anything can happen anywhere and at anytime so travel safe and travel smart.