What is safe?
Click hear to visit US Passport & International Travel Alert Page (image from this site)
Many of us remember exactly where we were standing and what we were doing on September 11, 2001 when a commercial air plane struck the World Trade Center. This catastrophic terrorist attack left many of us feeling unsafe, like we would never board an air plane again and that terrorism doesn't just happen in other places of the world - it happens here as well. I took a psychology course at Ohio State that examined much of the psychology behind events like 9/11 we read a book titled 'In the Wake of 9/11 The Psychology of Terror' that explains "why humans react the way they do to the threat of death and how this reaction influences their post-threat cognition and emotion. The theory provides ways to understand and reduce terrorism's effect and possibly find resolutions to conflicts involving terrorism." (taken from APA book description here). This course helped me to better understand events like 9/11 and it helped me to understand different elements of terror and fear - ultimately how to deal with traveling the world is believing that the world is a safe place - which to many of us may seem like a fallacy.
Everyone would like to believe that the States are a 'safe place' but America is no more or less dangerous than any other country in the world - in my opinion, to a certain extent (there's reason for these disclaimers). I have experienced in my own life things that have terribly thrown off my sense of security - my car was broken into twice in Columbus, Ohio and I was severely mugged while walking off Ohio State's campus during my schooling there - broken jaw, broken nose, broken cheek to list a few of my injuries. While it took me a few weeks to bounce back from a traumatic experience like this - you won't find me living inside of a bubble fearing the world is an evil place. The world is not an evil place, that is negative thinking, instead evil people seem to exist in our world that make it seem like an unsafe place.
It's important to learn from your life experiences and not fear them - so that your ready to deal with them again and perhaps in a better, safer manner. As we begin to tell our friends and family of our journeys abroad each person has their own insight or extra tip of security for us - here's a few of my favorite safety tips & security protocol to always exercise:
- Be aware, be ever aware of your surroundings, belongings and don't ever let yourself become 'unaware'
The reason people get mugged or robbed in some instances (can't speak for all) is that the victim lets them self become vulnerable in some way or another. For example, stopping on a dark street in a new area to pull your iPad mini out to check your maps, technology although great will get you kidnapped in certain countries. Always check your back, make sure your not being followed, keep your eye on sketchy people plus learn how to identify questionable characters and if ever a situation seems sketchy remember these things -
Get Loud & draw attention to yourself and the situation (this helps disable the bystander effect letting people around you know "Hey, I'm in trouble")
Give them everything you own (remember that MacBook can be replaced - your life cannot, don't get stabbed over trying to save your cell phone - always insure your gear and give them whatever they want as it isnt worth your life over something that can be replaced)
Run away (this saved me from being mugged a second time - if you recognize a scary situation try and remove yourself from it and get yourself to a safe place, quickly)
- Never put your backpack or belongings 'underneath' the bus or let your pack out of sight
- Researching countries before you leave / plan to go
After a recent call with my sister (writer at Out Beyond the Shore - her New Zealand travel blog) I had to reevaluate certain areas we had marked off our 'dream travel map'. My sister explained to me that Egypt would not be a safe place to travel to and that they might even have a travel ban in place. She made me understand the importance of following the world news if you plan to travel around it. Setting up a twitter account is simple & easy after which you can find and follow news handles like CNN, BBC, the Weather Channel and other world news providers - it would be important to get that tweet about civil disorder in this area before you head there tomorrow. Always, always check the news before you travel - it will help you make a safe and smart decision about entering a questionable area just to go sight seeing. How can I check to see if a region is safe?
Click hear to visit US Passport & International Travel Alert Page
- Travel with a buddy
Yes they taught you how to operate the buddy system when you were in the 3rd grade but when you leave the states I think in my opinion it is essential to have a travel companion. I am so grateful for adventurous Lil_E my girlfriend and travel companion - I can honestly say that without her I probably would have never bought these tickets or started this journey, weekend trips solo are one thing. Her friendship and our teamwork has shown me that we can overcome anything together which we will have to when we take off for the world. Make sure you always lookout for your buddy and your buddies gear - wait outside the restroom for each other, be awkward about never letting each other out of sight - it could ultimately save one or both of you. Making decisions as a team enable you the ability to weigh different sides, different options, different risks and then hopefully land on the best solution. I am so thankful for a travel companion like Lil_E and we can't wait to begin this journey together.
Thanks for reading this post on terror, fear management, safe travel tips - more posts coming out this week!
Here are some other great articles - on is the world safe?
Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out.
Karl Augustus Menninger