We’ve been overhearing a lot of conversations recently related to canceling or avoiding travel. It seems motivated by current news stories: Zika, countries issuing travel warnings, refugee migrations and terror attacks. It may be true that the world is a more intense place right now than it has been at other points in time, but from our perspective travel has always opened our minds and made us informed about the world and in our circumstances the world would benefit much more from interaction than isolation.
So should I just ignore all the risks to personal health and safety?
No matter what the time and circumstance traveling is risky business, life in fact is risky business. Something can befall you in your own home just as readily as on the road. Now we are not advising imprudence, we would not run off to a war zone or expose ourselves to an highly contagious area without a second thought. What we are talking about here is the residual effect that bad news seems to have in people. A disease or a conflict or political instability breaks out and immediately people seem to get a rush off being afraid, speculating about safety or confirming their original suspicions that going abroad was a risky idea in the first place. We don’t advocate running towards danger, but we don’t believe in using it as an excuse to stay closed minded either.
Why dangerous times need travelers
We’ve seen it happen again and again, something bad happens somewhere and immediately the destination is stigmatized, ignored or declared unsafe, for years or even an entire generation. We’ve happily traveled the length and breadth of the Arab world before and after the Arab Spring and have found nothing but hospitality and kindness. We’ve gone to Zika and Malaria zones and taken normal precautions with long clothing, bug spray and mosquito nets and come out unscathed. The fact of the matter is it is always easy to criticize and stigmatize, it takes a growth minded person, to weigh the appropriate risks and travel to discover the reality of any given place. Fear builds even stronger walls around bad situations and travel is one way to see and relate the truth to others.
Travel is curiosity with a sense of urgency
There are many reasons to cancel a trip, a personal crisis, health issues, career circumstances, and many things that are beyond our control. We strongly feel that aside from immanent danger, any other fears are just contributions to irrational hysteria. There are all kinds of travelers of course, from very inexperienced to professional globetrotters. Some may be easily spooked while others have crossed active war zones regularly. We find ourselves somewhere in the middle as quite adventurous and yet firmly rooted in our careers and lives. The reason why we don’t often let the hype deter us is that so often we’ve done trips with prudence and found life to be very normal and circumstances very different than what is reported in the news. Everyone at home just keeps repeating the stigmas, while we enjoy exploring and filling up our inquisitiveness. Ultimately to travel is about curiosity, urgent curiosity to encounter the world for oneself and to breakdown or overcome everything that everyone else just keeps repeating.