Terror attacks around the world seem to be on the rise, even in Western European countries that have traditionally been thought of as “safe” destinations for families. We reached out to six avid family travelers to find out how recent terror attacks have changed their outlook on traveling with kids, and how they balance the rewards of seeing the world with their children against the potential risks of the unknown.
Eric Stoen of Travel Babbo
We haven’t changed our family travel plans at all based on recent attacks. Of course we avoid active war zones and obviously unsafe areas, but otherwise I look at the overall risks, and what realistically should be considered a risk and what shouldn’t. There’s a far greater likelihood of getting into a car wreck on the way to the airport than there is of being the victim of a terror attack in Europe. Once we make it to the airport I actually feel safer. My kids have been to 41 countries now, including several in Europe this summer, and I feel strongly that the benefits to them from a global education outweigh any potential for violence while traveling. If anything there are more shootings in the US than in most other countries, so the real risk is staying at home!
Jordan Rhodes of Glimpse Guides
The recent terror attacks have not changed my outlook on family travel. Of course it is normal to be apprehensive, but I would never change plans or cease making plans because of an attack. It’s unfortunate that the world we live in is a scary one, but it’s also beautiful in so many ways, and I think it’s worth the risk to see it. But I also look at it from a religious perspective and believe that God has a plan for us all, so we should continue living our lives without fear. I have actually been directly affected by terrorist attacks four times – the first was when I lived in London in 2005. That July, terrorists bombed the tubes and a bus, and I was waiting for a train that never came. I’ll never forget the solemn mood that surrounded London as I walked for three hours to get home from Covent Garden to my house in Ladbroke Grove. The most recent encounter was last month when I traveled to London from New York. When we landed at Heathrow from JFK, our pilot came on and said, “there has been a threat to our plane.” That was pretty terrifying. But I’m still going back to London in September because I refuse to miss out on adventures, and I don’t want to teach my children to avoid experiences because of fear.
Dianne Sivulka of Our EDventures
I feel sad and sometimes overwhelmed about all the hatred in the world today. When it comes to traveling abroad with my family, I think it’s perfectly natural to be concerned because of what is happening. This past holiday season we spent a month in Europe. But weeks before we left on our trip, the first attack in Paris took place. I have to admit the joyful expectation of this trip we had taken a year to plan, suddenly felt gloomy. In the days leading up to the trip, I wondered if we were making the right decision to still go. We did go and I’m so glad we did. We had a great experience and made wonderful memories. I think it’s important to exercise caution and to be wise about our travel plans. But that also rings true when we travel domestically or even just spend a day in our own town. We want to travel. We want to see the world. As a family we want to explore, learn and experience new things together. We plan to keep our eyes on current events, be smart with our choices, and we also plan to continue traveling.
Erica Driscoll of Harmony in Chaos
The slew of recent terror attacks is always at the back of our minds when planning a family trip. Some airports have stronger security standards than others and certain areas of the world are experiencing more turmoil. The unknown is everywhere. There is the potential for disaster to strike our lives at any moment, even if we stay home. In my mind, it’s increasingly important to show our kids the wonderful world we live in because I’ve found that once you see the beauty that is out there, the harder it is to feel afraid.
We almost postponed a trip to Costa Rica earlier this year due to the threat of Zika Virus. Ultimately, we weighed the pros and cons, took proper precautions and went. We ended up having a blast and we all came back happy and healthy.
Kylie Gibbon of Our Overseas Adventures
We’ve been traveling in Belgium and France for the last eleven weeks with our young children, and we have actually felt very safe despite recent events. We’ve attended large gatherings (the Tour de France, markets and live theatre) and while there has been a heavy and armed police presence, we have not once felt unsafe. Millions of people live here and are going about their daily lives as normal, and we are following their lead. It hasn’t changed our outlook on family travel much – our viewpoint is that you are still statistically much more likely to be injured or killed in a car accident or as the victim of petty crime both at home and abroad, than you are to be caught up in a terrorist incident. In saying that, we are probably more vigilant than normal in large crowds, keep a close eye on both French and international media, and follow our government’s ‘safe travel’ advice. There are still plenty of tourists and other traveling families around too and our advice would be just come!
Valerie Chaperon Giusti, Nomad Mother of Two
In terms of family travel, I would always favor the quietness, peacefulness, remoteness and the countryside of any countries rather than cities capital and crowded places. Considering this, I would say that the recent terror attacks has not really changed my outlook on family travel. But I would rather not go to destinations where terror attacks have happened many times or on a regular basis or knowing risky or dangerous places such as Pakistan, Somaliland and so on. Also, I wouldn’t planned ahead my holidays but rather give priority to last minute ones. Personally, in general but specifically while on holidays, I would like my children to appreciate and discover adventure, explore nature and wildlife, live a simple but good life and while on holidays I am looking for the same things plus the fun and the unknown. So, knowing that those terror attacks often happened at airport, train station, shopping mall or any other public places or when big gathering of people happened and often take place within capital cities I would rather not going to such places with my kids… But how to avoid not being in a airport or any public transport if you wish to travel? My answer would be to travel ‘locally’, to explore your own country and its beauty rather than going too far away destinations involving a lot of different travel means and busy places. Basically, enjoying simple life holidays, away from crowds and big resorts in order to stay away from potential risk. Do family camping, holidays at the farm, fishing and swimming by the river, hiking and travel with your bicycle or by road with your camping van. Living abroad for such a long time as made me appreciate more and more where I come from and in particular my country, Switzerland. Especially with children, holidays destinations can be anywhere and anytime! It is up to you to make it feel holiday, to bring fun and adventure in your trip and to be keen to discover the unknown…At this particular time of my life, I would encourage anyone, any family to enjoy holiday of “proximity.”