Should You Avoid Europe Because Of State Department Warning?

I think by now we all know about the tragic events which occurred in Brussels on Tuesday, where explosions went off at the airport and in a subway station. As of now the death count is 34, with dozens more injured.

TGV-Train-Brussels-Paris-02
Train station in Brussels

The attack has been getting a lot of media attention in the US, and understandably so. That probably partly has to do with the fact that for many Americans, an attack at an airport or subway station in a major European city seems relatable. Maybe Brussels is in your summer travel plans, or otherwise maybe London or Paris are.

This has caused the US State Department to issue a European travel alert, warning Americans of the risks of traveling to Europe through June 20, 2016. It’s one of the broadest warnings I’ve seen to date:

The State Department alerts U.S. citizens to potential risks of travel to and throughout Europe following several terrorist attacks, including the March 22 attacks in Brussels claimed by ISIL.  Terrorist groups continue to plan near-term attacks throughout Europe, targeting sporting events, tourist sites, restaurants, and transportation.  This Travel Alert expires on June 20, 2016.

U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using mass transportation. Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid crowded places. Exercise particular caution during religious holidays and at large festivals or events.

They’re basically issuing a blanket warning for travel to all of Europe for the next three months. I’ve received several emails from readers in the past 24 hours asking if they should cancel their trips to Europe because of this warning. I know a lot of people take travel warnings very seriously, so I figured I’d chime in.

Let me start by saying that I’m no expert on international security, but rather I’m just sharing how I feel about the travel warning, and the safety of traveling in general. Let me break down my answer into two sections — why you shouldn’t change your travel plans, and why you should change your travel plans.

London-Tower-Bridge
London

Why you shouldn’t change your travel plans

The media is heavily focusing on these attacks, both because they’re incredibly tragic, and also because they’re relatable. We haven’t really heard much (at least in the US media) about the other recent terrorist attacks, in Turkey, Nigeria, and on the Ivory Coast. And that’s perhaps because they’re just not as relatable to those of us in the US.

Is there a chance of another attack in Brussels, or Paris, or elsewhere? It’s a possibility… absolutely. There could be another attack tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, or 10 years from now. Is it worth changing your plans and living in fear of the possibility of an attack? Personally I don’t think so, when you put things into perspective.

The travel warning is for all of Europe, and Europe has a population of about 750 million people. A (horrible) terror attack happened, which killed at least 34 people.

Not to minimize how tragic that is, but more than 10,000 people die each year in the US from alcohol related car crashes. That’s ~30 people per day, which is similar to the death count of the Brussels attacks on a daily basis.

In my opinion we should all be scared of driving, but it’s something we accept as a risk, and something we don’t put much thought into.

That’s sort of how I view travel. There are always risks when traveling. You could be robbed, you could be murdered, you could be close to a terrorist attack. But at home in the US I could be hit by a drunk driver, I could be shot on the street, etc. There are always risks just living your life — it’s not limited to when you’re traveling. The difference is that we don’t really think much about the risks of just living our daily lives, since they can’t really be avoided.

Brussels
Brussels

Why you should change your travel plans

While I won’t be changing my own travel plans, I also only think you should do what’s within your comfort zone. If…

  • You’re going to spend your time in major European cities being afraid and avoiding the major landmarks out of fear
  • Your loved ones back home are absolutely terrified of you traveling to certain places, even if it’s for all the wrong reasons

…then I might change around plans. Ultimately travel is about enjoying yourself, and if fear will prevent that, I wouldn’t hesitate to change around plans.

As far as the second point about loved ones goes, let me explain. At a young age my oldest brother passed away in an accident, so when I’m traveling, I always ask myself “is my mom going to be worried if I visit ______?” Fortunately she’s quite reasonable, but at the same time there are places I’ve considered traveling to, but have avoided because I didn’t want her to be worried. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, because at some point it’s selfish if you’re not considering how your actions impact loved ones.

If you’re going to go on your vacation to a major city and be afraid and/or not be able to fully enjoy it, then by all means switch it around and consider going to smaller cities and/or more rural areas, where the perceived risk is lower.

ICARE-Lounge-Paris-CDG-31
Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport

Bottom line

It’s a scary world we live in, though at the same time I’d argue it has always been a scary world. What’s different nowadays is that every event can be broadcast to every part of the world in a matter of minutes. And the coverage events get aren’t based on the impact they have, but rather based on their appeal.

You don’t hear very much about the 10,000 people per year who die of alcohol related accidents in the US, or the over 20,000 people per day who die of hunger related causes. None of which is to minimize the terrible things which happened in Brussels, but rather to put them into perspective.

Are you changing your travel plans because of the attacks in Brussels?

Comments

  1. Exactly. In fact I’d say the safest place in the world right now is Brussels because of the reflexive heightened security. I don’t walk around worrying bout getting hit by lightning so why would I worry about other random ways to die?

  2. After the Paris attacks I was talking with a French friend who said “You could die anywhere, any day. You might as well go where you want.” It’s a bit morbid maybe, but I think that’s the right attitude. We’re never truly safe, so we might as well enjoy ourselves.

  3. I thought the travel advisory was too broad. I feel they must have more speficific information about areas at highest risk. In any event, I am traveling to France and Italy for work for 32 days next month. I will try to avoid arriving early at airports and train stations and I will utilize Uber and Taxi a bit more than normal. And I will be more alert than I already am when traveling and frequenting highly concentrated public venues.

    No cancellations for me. The terrorists want us to be afraid and also want to damage the economic stability of western countries. Why give them what they want? Be safe everyone.

  4. I’m going! No way those a….holes keep me from traveling… I’ll be transiting 5 European airports in two weeks from now. Couple of train rides as well.

  5. If you add up terrorism and shooting deaths in Europe vs the US for the past 6 months, it isn’t even close.
    Just look at the numbers (which the media never shows), and ask “Am I more likely to be killed at home or in Europe”. Some nutter with a gun will probably kill innocent people in America today (since we average a mass shooting every day). It is far less likely some nutter terrorist in Europe kills people in Europe today. It is tragic, and could happen anywhere, but if you let that drive your plans, then the terrorists win.

  6. We had this same discussion in my office yesterday. I have to fly to Brussels next Friday for work and my boss was telling me how I shouldn’t go and he is personally cancelling a trip he has to Germany next week because of this alert. We also take a very important work trip to Italy in a few months that he is considering cancelling as well and “advises” me to do the same.

    I explained to him sort of the same points that you did in your post above. There is a chance I could die every day on the way to the office, but I take that risk. Travel to me holds the same exact risks, not greater and not really less. He didn’t see eye to eye with me on it, oh well ha.

    Regardless, I think some people are just wired thinking that international travel=greater risk of life and some others are wired the other way, international travel=same or less risk of life.

    Just my thought.

  7. First, I wonder how do they come up with the June 20, 2016 date to end the warning. Is that a 3 month standard period when they will review the warning again? Second, I have a summer vacation planned with my wife and two kids to Italy and Greece this June (yes, before the warning ends). We will visit Rome, Athens and other cities that are not very touristic. I don’t plan to cancel the trip but sometimes I wonder if my kids would be safer if we stay at home. I really don’t care about me but more in exposing my two kids to “unnecessary risks”. It is sad to have to explain to them the world we live today.

  8. If its a work booked trip and they are making you go, I wonder if there is any sort of liability on the company, when a travel alert has been issued by the US GOV. I wonder where that stands if something does happen to you on a work trip.

    For personal trips I won’t change my plans. I could walk outside the office and get run over, but I still walk the busy city streets and drive a car.

  9. If you cancel your plans, then you are beaten by the terrorist. We will not live in fear in Europe. I’d be more afraid of being shot in the USA than blown up in Europe, seriously.

  10. I just returned from London last night, we noticed some stepped up police presence on the Tube and elsewhere in the city – rail stations etc. I saw a few rather muscled individuals board our United flight at Heathrow (T2) long before we were allowed to board, so we assumed they were air marshals, and we felt better knowing that they were there. It didn’t seem like there was a huge extra security presence overall in the Heathrow departures hall, but they were there. Londoners were definitely going about their business as usual. Awareness of your surroundings is the most important thing, know where your exits are, know where you are going before you go. Simple but important stuff.

  11. Well, I live in Germany and what can I say. The events are tragic, but life needs to go on. I won’t go hiding in my basement for the rest of my life. But good to know that after June 20 everything is safe again 😉
    I wonder how they came up with that specific date.

  12. US State Dept sends out those warnings periodically. We must travel to help local economy otherwise terrorism wins and cuz #Murica!

  13. Statistically speaking, Europe is safer than the US. If anything, the EU should issue a warning about traveling to the US. Europeans are unfazed by this recent attack, it is only the Americans that are perpetually afraid.

  14. I traveled to Paris only a couple of months after the attacks there. My co-workers thought I was crazy, but I got the all clear from my loved ones and I was off! I wasn’t going to let a group dedicated to instilling fear into the masses stop my trip.

  15. Read up a bunch of articles on nytimes. European governments are full of incompetent morons more interested in saving their turf than keeping their people safe. There is rampant racism, though not openly, where immigrants don’t have as many opportunities. Belgium is a failed state with the French and Flemish not getting along and finally Europeans are bunch of freeloaders that run to America for help everytime because instead of investing in their state line police, intelligence, society etc they are paying out cushy pensions so they are always understaffed. Best of all agencies don’t even share information with each other.

    But beyond that they expect more attacks in Britain and France now. So don’t let those terrorists win, go to Europe and show them you don’t mind dying for freedom.

    Anyway most Europeans I have met are nice though, superficially at least.

  16. @Lucky – It would be helpful if you can cover whether any travel insurance from CSP/AMEX/Citi Prestige is activated as a result of warnings. No plans at the moment to cancel my own travel but if I did decide to would be curious what coverage I’m afforded.

  17. But beyond that they expect more attacks in Britain and France now. So don’t let those terrorists win, go to Europe and show them you don’t mind dying for freedom.
    Anyway most Europeans I have met are nice though, superficially at least.

    @Credit

    So what if the next attack is in the US and they blow up a school. Should I avoid travelling to the states in case I mind dying for my freedom somewhere in the US.

    You give a pretty broad spectrum on Europe there and politics.
    And Europeans being superficially, also again a rather broad comment. I mean I’ve met plenty of people from the states who are superficially, do I class all US citizens that way ? No I don’t.

  18. We leave Thursday to spend a month in England visiting family. We haven’t even considered changing our plans despite receiving the notice from the State Department. However like Santastico mentioned above, I wonder about how they arrived at the specific date given for the warning to end.

  19. While I understand the content of this post, it is important to note the distinction between a “Travel Warning” and a “Travel Alert” (see the US State Department’s website). A Travel Warning is issued when the State Department advises no travel for American citizens (places like Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea, where current warnings are in place). A Travel Alert might include “an election season that is bound to have many strikes, demonstrations, or disturbances…or evidence of an elevated risk of terrorist attacks.” In this instance, the State Department has issued a Travel Alert, advising US citizens to potential risks, not warning them against travel. As a tour operator, unless a Travel Warning is issued advising our clients not to travel to a particular destination (subject to the client’s feelings, of course), we’re moving forward Unfortunately we all know this can happen anywhere, in Europe, our hometown, or otherwise.

  20. @ Credit

    What a crapload of ignorant BS…… Many of us here don’t need to ‘read up a bunch of NY times’ articles about Europe because we live or have lived in Europe. Might be better if you reserved your very strong opinions for issues you actually know about.

  21. I have no plans to visit Europe this year anyway, but if I did, I wouldn’t cancel them. If I didn’t otherwise have vacation plans, I might actually consider booking a trip, because if people are being scared away, hotel prices etc may drop.

    A number of years ago, there was the SARS outbreak in Canada, and there was a travel advisory to Canada. My husband, son and I ignored the advisory, and took a quick trip to Toronto without any reservations, and were able to negotiate rock bottom prices for one of the nicest hotels in the city. It was an awesome getaway!

  22. Leaving for London in about an hour. Can’t wait. Never been. No way did we even consider cancelling. Hide in basement? Uh no.

  23. State Dept. Travel Warning (Translation):

    We have no solid information and we really don’t have a grasp on the situation. Please be careful. When this message expires, we will most likely issue it again.
    Sincerly,
    Jeeehhhhh Duhhhh Johnson
    Criminal Trial Lawyer, posing as national security expert

  24. > “Is there a chance of another attack in Brussels, or Paris, or elsewhere? It’s a possibility… absolutely.”

    The French police have been saying for at least a month that they know ISIS is planning multiple simultaneous attacks in Europe. Given that Belgium didn’t act on Turkey’s warning about one of the attackers, it seems like more than “a possibility.” Really you should be asking about the unlikelihood of being at the unfortunate wrong place at the wrong time.

  25. Lucky, this is an excellent post
    I visited Europe 3-4 times a year, last time was 2 weeks after the attack. I even felt a sense of supporting humanity when I went there.

  26. Sitting in Southern France at the moment finishing a work week abroad. I was here when this happenedd, and need to travel back through London on Saturday.

    I’m in total agreement, I didn’t run home the day it happened, I don’t feel threatened right now. I just so happened to fly here on one of my last trips during the Paris attacks at the end of last year.

    In neither case was I ever in fear of my life. In no case didd I ever feel threatened. To say you shouldn’t travel here because something might happen at some indeterminate time or place is simply crazy an shouldn’t be given more than a passing thought. The world is not a dangerous place for the most part.

  27. Agreed that one must consider the feelings of family. Otherwise do as saavy travelers always should do, maintain a low profile and try to blend into surroundings. As a teen 30 years ago and visiting family in NYC I only wanted to be one of the locals. I didn’t carry a camera around my neck or large backpack, I tried to not look like a tourist. Same can be said of travel abroad and in such harried times as today. Just go, see what you want, and stay aware of your surroundings. We’re less scared of something happening at home because we know where we’d go and what we’d do if something bad happened. Know those things when travelling and stress will be much less.

  28. Risk of death by terrorist well worth the reward of Maldives, Frankfurt, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Istanbul: 1 week!

  29. The chances of a terrorist attack still remain extremely low. Those of us who actually live in Europe just carry on with our lives, we can’t change the way we behave on the basis of the small chance something might happen (with the exception of doing things like staying in while an attack is actually in progress, which I think is sensible when you don’t know what the scope of the attack is.

    It is also worth mentioning that people should be prepared for heightened security at airports, public buildings etc. Public buildings may be implementing bag searches etc. if this is not normally the case, and I’d leave an extra few minutes to pass through airport security.

  30. I live in Norway, and I will continue to travel throughout Europe as normal the next months. I felt more fear when living in the U.S. (in terms of shootings and guns over there), than what I do when I travel around in Europe.

  31. This travel alert is so ridiculous – I’m an American living in France, and I feel completely safe, and know that I’m more likely to get shot by a crazy person (or even a cop) in the US than get killed my a terrorist here. I’m traveling to Mexico City next week for vacation, and I know that there’s a better chance that I’ll die in a car accident on the way to the train station than get killed in a terrorist attack on the train or in the airport / on the plane.

    We can’t live our lives in fear – doing so is letting Daesh win.

  32. It would be really helpful if there were someone knowledgeable about how state department advisories and warnings are promulgated to give more information about how these should be interpreted. (And not the conspiracy theorists or I-hate-anything-government types.) I see an awful lot of nonsense in these threads.

    This is a communication by the government with specific statements. “Terrorist groups continue to plan near-term attacks throughout Europe, targeting sporting events, tourist sites, restaurants, and transportation.” This is a specific, factual claim. While one perhaps can say, “sure, we know that,” this is not the government speculating or giving a “by the way.” This is a claim of fact based presumably on information. “Avoid crowded places” is similarly specific. It is not couched or equivocal.

    One can dismiss all this as ass covering, I suppose. On the other hand, my expectation is that the State Department is exceedingly familiar with the economic consequences of issuing these alerts, and there is undoubtedly pressure from many quarters — quarters where there is a financial interest in encouraging travel — that the State Department not make these pronouncements. There are plenty of good reasons not to give in to this crap or to decide that the risks are outweighed by the benefits. But this communication — though it may merely be an “alert” — is fairly extraordinary to me. I am not an expert on State Department guidance, but my perception is that they tend to be more vague and less explicit, and it would be nice if we have any who post comments here who have any insight into how these are written and promulgated (as opposed to all the Google geniuses who love to post here and pretend their opinions are particularly informed because they can google “travel alert”).

  33. Some parts in the United States such as Detroit is still more dangerous than Brussels or Paris. There’s a much higher possibility you will die by being shot at Detroit than dying by a bomb in Brussels or Paris.

  34. @ Larry – In open source intelligence reports you’d find that the travel alert is warning about threats which are ongoing and have been a concern for intelligence agencies for many years now. While the June 20, 2016, date specified in the alert may seem arbitrary, it may be based upon a variety of things like increased terrorist chatter on the internet or travel patterns of suspected and known terrorists, basically anything that doesn’t amount to a specific, credible threat.

  35. As a Brit who has become a US Citizen this frustrates me: watching people becoming fearful from the hyped reporting on CNN and Fox. By an act of sheer serendipity I missed the IRA bomb at London’s Victoria Station many years ago but never thought twice about travelling to London after that. Part of it is a lack of understanding of basic statistical probability. It would make as much sense to report the combined death toll from mass shootings in the US and advise Europeans to think twice about visiting the US (cf. http://timelines.latimes.com/deadliest-shooting-rampages/) or maybe the real victory over the terrorists is to ignore them and get on with enjoying our freedom.

  36. I live in London. The UK government has had a heightened alert for a while, stating that all UK citizens are at risk of being targeted anywhere in the world.

    I don’t want to appear blase about this, but I think in Europe we’re probably used to the fact that different groups have launched terrorist attacks for decades; growing up the IRA were extremely active, I lived in Paris and narrowly missed being on tubes that were bombed, had many friends in the line of fire during the 7/7 bombings in London.

    Sadly of all this activity the only friend I have lost was in 9/11. He was in New York on business.

    We must not confuse comfort with safety – as Lucky says, we may feel safe in a car but it’s more likely we’ll die in a car crash than in a terrorist bombing, or getting shot (in the US) or actually, now that it’s overtaken automobile accidents, overdosing on prescription drugs. As Credit pointed out (either intentionally or unintentionally) fear and ignorance is what creates a divided global community, I believe travel literally brings us together and helps us heal that divide.

  37. @Matthew “March 24, 2016 at 1:26 pm – I just hope this results in lower airfare and hotel rates in Europe or even worldwide.”

    Wow Matthew – what a selfish cunt you are.

  38. I would sooner spend the money on my neighbors to the North and South of the United States then give money to Europeans so they can give welfare checks to a bunch of faux refugees who rape their woman, cut slices out of their cities creating dangerous areas for infidels.

    Hungary is one of the few countries wise enough not to let these false refugee leeches into their country and yet everyone wants them to just go ahead and destroy their national heritage so they can listen to the muezzin call awaking non Muslim at 5:00 AM. Europe can got to hell and drown. I will go to Japan or Latin America and spend my hard earned money there.

  39. @ Meturaf – Despite your wildly racist rhetoric, if there was another biz or first class mistake fare to Europe, you’d be whipping out your cc and clicking buy faster than any Trump supporter could throw a punch.

  40. Plans to go to France and Brussels in a month. A bit unnerved? Yes. It’s easy to say you wouldn’t change plans if you have no actual plans. I expect that a number of us going question ourselves but arrive at a similar answer: as Charlie Hebdo says, “screw them”.

  41. I’ve been in Paris all week. There is no real evidence of heightened security other than around Gare du Nord, Gare de l’est, Porte Maillot and similar. While I have not been to any of the major tourist attractions, I did walk past the Louvre: no greater security in evidence there
    The metro has some additional warnings about suspicious parcels but there are no special security measures in place;but with more than 300 stations, most of them with multiple entrances/exits, very busy and operating 20 hours per day, it’s hard to imagine just how additional security could be implemented.
    I didn’t feel unsafe in the city or on the metro. It’s a great time to visit Paris: late winter and neither too cold nor crowded.
    There is risk in everything and it’s up to the individual to make the judgement.

  42. Let’s be real, if these attacks occurred in another region like say, Africa, then this wouldn’t even be a question. But it’s Europe, so….

  43. Oh cool, the warning only goes till June 20th and my trip is after that. I guess I’ll bee 100% safe :rolleyes: Ughh, these warnings are ridiculous. These crazy bombers could blow things up whenever, wherever. It’s like a slot machine, and previous pulls have no bearing on future pulls.

  44. I don’t pay attention to Travel Alerts. They just aren’t credible to me for a variety of reasons. I’m sure there are bad guys out there, and I’m sure they will blow some stuff up, but I don’t see how this advisory gives us any useful information. @Pam rightly points out that it’s easy to say you wouldn’t change your plans when you don’t have any plans to begin with. I was pressured a lot in 2004 not to travel to Kenya. Even the travel doctor told me to stay home. British Airways canceled their flights, and I had to find another way, Kenya Airways. But I went. So I assume if I had any plans for Europe this summer, I’d still go.

    An advisory that essentially tells me to remain in my home and not use public transportation and to avoid entire continents is useless butt-covering by the authorities IMHO. You can’t travel and avoid the tourist sites you came to see. It defeats the purpose of the travel.

  45. The statistical arguments are disingenuous. If you go out late at night in certain areas you dramatically increase your risk of being killed by a drunk driver or being shot by a criminal. The vast majority of the USA population avoids both of these scenario’s and is at much lower relative risk. If you need to go to Europe for work, then you do what you have to do. If you are going for personal travel there are just far safer places to go than any major European city at this point. Istanbul is a beautiful city but is in virtual lockdown and both the German and Dutch embassy’s are now closed there. Syrian refugees have been flooding Europe crossing from Turkey to Greece. Until the Syrian refugee crisis and war is resolved ISIS will be sending agents into Europe to disrupt and kill. ISIS is losing. They will get more and more desperate and resort to increased terror and asymmetric methods of war.

  46. Holy cow, the comments to this once great feature of this site have turned to poop almost overnight. How did the jerks find this blog? I used to love the comments. Ben, I know you’re opposed to editing of any kind, but when your comments are a haven for those prone to disgusting misogynist words and racism, it maybe is time to reconsider.

  47. I currently have 8 flights booked throughout Europe in May. I’m going to Budapest, Greece (Athens /santorini), Croatia and Montenegro. With the exception of Greece I’m not to concerned about the other countries. I’m just torn between allowing my fears to control my life and feeling comfortable and safe on my trip. I’m single female American traveler and I have less than 24 hours to decide if I’m going forward with this trip.

  48. I just returned from Milan & Brussels a week & a half ago. I left Brussels a day before the govt. raided the terrorist safe house. I was in the same airport that was just blown up. NO PROBLEM. In Milan they don’t screw around with security. There are guys with sub machine guns visible everywhere. They were even in La Scala when I went to the opera. I am going to Paris in six weeks, as I got a great points redemption from Delta (42K miles RT to Paris). I am far more afraid of Trump becoming president than a terrorist attack. Or the NRA whackadoo’s for that matter. Vive la France!

  49. @Chris – Guys with sub machine guns aren’t going to prevent one of the crazies from blowing themselves up just like stop signs don’t stop anyone from running right through them. It just gives you the false feeling of security.

  50. @ken – Sorry, but I feel much more secure with an AK 47 nearby. Terrorists avoid places with armed military everywhere. There are much easier targets to choose.

  51. I’m not going to change my travel plans, nor the ones of my staff. We discussed it briefly in my office, but agreed that this would be exaclty what ISIS wants and we are by no means complying with terrorists. Of course we do take a few precautionary measures – yes a few only, e.g. avoiding crowds, if possible. We do have upcpming trips to several EU destiantions, Turkey, Middle East but also Pakistan.

  52. @Chris Jensen – The fact remains that while you may feel safer, you are in fact not actually safer. A terrorist could walk up to a machine gun wielding security officer and detonate a bomb right there and there’s nothing to stop him. My point is that no place is safe, but we can’t let that stop us from going about our business. A plane could crash into my house while I sleep. Safety is merely an illusion.

  53. I actually don’t think that a comparison with road deaths really holds. When a terror attack happens, the mood of the city changes dramatically, as happened in the days and weeks following last November’s attacks in (my home city of) Paris. The place feels so sad, heavy, and fearful immediately afterwards. Statistically, one is unlikely to killed or injured in an attack (as Lucky points out), but everyone in the city will feel the fear, saddness, bewilderment, and heaviness after the attack… and that’s what many would like to avoid, I am guessing. Trust me: it was not pleasant after the November Paris attack; reallly, really difficult, actually.)

    I might add: I would recommend staying in a hotel, rather than an AirBnB apartment, if you do come this way, unless you speak the language. (I could not imagine how disorienting it would be, on the day or two after an attack, if you do not have a hotel concierge to advise you of which areas/districts to avoid. There were, two days after the November Paris attack, two (thankfully, false) alarms near Republique and Hotel de Ville… and good hotels were warning patrons of those risks, just minutes after the attacks occurred. You won’t get that in an AirBnB.)

  54. Based on all the comments presented, a majority do say to go with your plans in Europe. There is an indication that American travelers should go to smaller towns and off the tourist high volume places to be safer. Also this would include avoid areas of cities and towns where Muslims are the majority and have their no-go zones. Would both European Muslims and immigrant communities be a high risk for tourists to go near? The evidence seems to point that way.

  55. My boyfriend (25) and I (23) have had a trip to Europe planned since December. We are supposed to leave in the middle of May and will be gone for 2 weeks. We had planned on going to Germany (Dusseldorf + Cologne), Ghent, Paris, and Rome. My parents and grandparents have recently expressed concerns about us going and said they do not like the idea of it and hope we change our plans. I understand why they are worried, but at the same time I think the news/media has induced panic and caused them to overreact. We are unsure what to do and are considering canceling our trip. I was very excited for this trip and know I would regret not going, but I also don’t want to go against my family’s wishes and have them terrified the entire time. I’m worried if we go, there will be tension between me & my family & between my boyfriend and my family. Any advice is appreciated!

  56. They’re family… They will be worried regardless of a terrorist event months before your trip. My parents are the same way when we disappear for 4 weeks over the summer.

  57. I’m travelling to Italy on what I have been led to believe is Laylat al-Qadr with my husband and three children. 3rd July. This is an important religious date to Muslims as is the whole of Ramadam. I think it’s normal to fear travelling on this day by plane from London to Milan however my husband thinks otherwise, I’m torn between being a racist making a sweeping generalisation (which I obviously don’t want to be) and an overprotective mother who doesn’t want to make unnecessary risks (like, maybe we could change our holiday plans and visit Italy in winter next year)

    Is travelling between two major European cities (that are on alert) on this date reckless?

  58. You are not up to date now Istanbul airport bombing and more attacks in Afghanistan. I was going to make trip to see my boyfriend in Turkey. Now because ISIS are now attacking major airports I not going I am from USA.

  59. I believe that when the risk becomes unacceptable — that is, beyond the usual thefts, delays, illnesses, etc. — to multiple terrorists attacks, threats of attacks, reports of poor security in certain countries or continents — then I think it is smart to alter one’s travel plans. Non-human animal are very smart about such things; they will not venture into an area where they know predators await, or a storm or earthquake is brewing, etc. And, my feeling about not changing your lifestyle or travel plans or the terrorists win is that the terrorists win when they actually kill you.

    That being said, I believe the world will prevail over organized terrorism as well as decreasing the lone wolf terrorism. The terrorists have, as the saying goes, awakened a sleeping giant and their days are numbered.

    So I’m happy to wait and travel to places that are relatively safer.

  60. @Paul Fishman
    I recently discovered a book called Small Guide to Safe Travel (by D. Sandruss) which discusses this subject. It talks also about possible locations for future attacks, with a focus on tourist places. It has some decent advice over what can be done to stay safe when traveling

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