Have you been putting off your dream trip to your favorite international destination? You always wanted to travel, but, with the threat of terrorist attacks, you wonder what your family will think of you if you go.
While others tremble at getting on a plane or looking foolhardy, it’s time for us to have some amazing experiences and make new friends as we travel around the world!
Others around you seem to live by the following verses:
The slothful man says, “There is a lion outside, I shall be slain in the streets!” (Proverbs 22:13)
The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion. (Proverbs 28:1)
But as for you, because of the boldness Christ is putting inside you, you can fearlessly go where others won’t. The threat of terrorist attacks won’t keep you from pursuing your dreams. Now is the time for us to travel again. While everyone else is still waiting to see what will happen next, you and I can take advantage of great prices for travel and lodging overseas.
Afraid of a terrorist attack, unafraid of muggers
Like Megan, I feel baffled by the New Yorker who is afraid to travel to Paris because of terrorist attacks. And yet, to avoid being mugged, robbed or attacked, New Yorkers take common-sense measures to stay safe.
In the same way, by following a few steps when you travel, your risk of being caught up in a terrorist attack overseas can be so reduced that you are far more likely to be struck by lightning than to face an act of terrorism.
1. Make preparations for your trip
Here is a checklist of things to do before you take a trip:
- As soon as your tickets are reserved, print out your itinerary, and leave it with your spouse, your Mom, your Dad or someone who cares for you.
- On your itinerary you just printed out, write down all the phone numbers where you can be contacted in the event of an emergency back home.
- Sign up for the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.
- Make a photocopy or two of your passport. It’s a lot safer to carry a photocopy of your passport when you leave your hotel room than it is to carry the original around with you wherever you go.
- Create a printout of all the phone numbers of people you would contact in an emergency, and pack it in your carry-on luggage.
- If you are visiting one of the countries listed on the State Department’s Alerts and Warnings page, you might want to bring a satellite phone or Delorme InReach with you. If something were to happen, the government might shut off cellphone service. When that happens, the only way to get a message out is by satellite.
2. From the moment you arrive, plan what you’ll do in an emergency
When you arrive in a new town, Mapping Megan has the following advice:
- Get your bearings as soon as you arrive in a new city: Have a business card from your hotel with you always.
- Learn to recognize the uniforms of local police
- Get in contact with the embassy responsible for you in the host country
- She also advises bringing a copy of your passport, along with a hotel business card, written in the local language, to easily hand to a taxi driver or police officer in the event you need to return to safety quickly.
3. Don’t run with the crowd
State Department warnings often mention the risk of going where foreigners are known to hang out in large numbers.
Stay away from rallies, demonstrations, and large public gatherings
If an incident does occur, try to reach safe ground. If you are in a building that has been affected, protect yourself from any falling debris and leave as quickly and calmly as you can. Move away from the sight of the incident.
If you hear gunfire in the distance, or the sound of an explosion, immediately start moving away from the area where the explosion came from. Do not run to the scene to find out what’s happening. Do not hang around and start filming the tragedy on your smartphone.
4. Move on if you can
If you can get home or can get in your car and start leaving town, do so as quickly as possible. Once the impact of the situation reaches a critical mass, you won’t be able to get anywhere.
You greatly increase your risk of becoming a victim of a terrorist attack if you hang around the scene and filming the damage done on your smartphone. They may have set a second bomb in the area, or along the path where the crowd naturally flees from the first explosion.
If you run with the crowd, you run the risk of becoming trampled or trampling others down. So stay in your car. Move into a building. Stand against a wall, and wait for the panic to calm down before continuing your journey.
In high-risk areas, unpredictability is one of the greatest deterrents to avoid being a target of a terrorist attack. Never leave work for home at the same time every day for a year. Do not follow the same road each time you go home.
5. Be Brave
Someday you may find yourself facing a terrorist attack, despite doing everything you can to avoid it.
In countries where bystanders confront the terrorists, the terrorists think twice about striking again. While we shouldn’t unnecessarily risk our lives, we must act if we want to prevent further bloodshed.
Hopefully, you already have a framework to face eternity. If you don’t and would like one, let me share with you how I face it from a Christian perspective.
After an incident, administer first aid if you are able. Volunteer any information you have that can help the police.
If you can, save another person’s life, especially the life of someone who wouldn’t otherwise survive. Not only will you save a life, but it also allows you to process the attack in a healthier way. You will have a redeeming moment to look back on, something to help you keep your sanity as a survivor.
While you are living overseas, the ones you love most will probably be receiving a lot of phone calls and text messages, asking about you and if they have heard from you. In the meantime, you are doing fine and are not at all in danger. Even if you are hundreds of miles away from trouble, by letting the ones closest to you know what you are facing, they can let your wider circle of friends and associates know how you are doing.
Can you think of additional ways to stay safe and prepare for an act of terrorism? Please share them with us.