Is Travel Safe?
One of the many things that happen during FTU are panel discussions. They change in topic and participants but they’re always an interesting way to get your questions answered if you’re an attendee. If you have never attended a Frequent Traveler University event, you should absolutely attend the next one in Chicago November 17-19.
On this FTU event, which was hosted in Minneapolis June 9-11, the panelists were Wojciech from FlightFox, Tiffany from One Mile at a Time, Stefan from Rapid Travel Chai, Greg from Frequent Miler, as well as Jon and myself. A lot of topics and questions were covered during a very lively discussion, many tightly related to some airline mileage programs, hotels, deals, etc. But the one question that surprised me the most was one about whether travel was safe.
The full question was, and I’ll paraphrase because I lack the photographic memory: “In light of recent events, and now that me and my wife are starting on this miles and points world, we’re thinking about places to visit, but is Europe safe to travel with our kids?”
At the time my response was something passionate along the lines of “you’re more likely to get shot in the US than from any terrorist-related event in Europe”. And I still stand by it. As someone who’s spent 90% of his life outside of the US, I’m painfully aware of how dangerous it is to live in this country.
Is travel safe? Here’s some facts
The chances of being a victim of a terrorist attack in the US are approximately 1 in 20 million. In contrast, the chances of being shot to death in the US is 1 in 31,200. The New York Times published a table showing the likelihood of being shot to death in another country versus deaths by other leading causes in the US. It’s pretty interesting:
Something that troubled me from both the question and some of the answers was that for some people, the tolerance threshold for travel related risk seems to change when in the presence of children. I won’t pretend to understand the bond between parent and child having none myself, but I would dispute that there should be such a disparity. Would you as a traveler be more comfortable subjecting your significant other -or yourself even- to a higher danger than you would your kids? I don’t think I ever would.
I do think that, at times, some people tend to confuse danger with discomfort, or unfamiliarity even. I do understand that the world is varied enough that for the uninitiated (aka children) it would seem unknown and exotic, and therefore scary. But I would argue that that is the point of traveling with your kids; for them to experience different ways of life, languages, demographics, systems of government, etc.
I have my family to thank for exposing me to all of that from an early age – and I would recommend to any parent to drag their kids along on their travels, whether to Europe or South America or even Africa and Asia. Just be aware and conscious of the risks so that you can make an informed decision and manage the potential risks, but don’t ever let fear deter you from enjoying travel.