First, I need to apologize for not posting in such a long time—I’ve actually been moving, settling into the new house, and working like a madwoman. So this is not only the first time I’ve had a spare moment since I started moving, but it’s also the first time I’ve really been particularly inspired about a topic in a while.
My goal with this blog is to write about what people are actually interested in, and today at work I heard the same question I’ve heard countless times before. It must be the question that’s on everybody’s mind, so I’m going to address it here.
The questions of the day at work lately are “With all of that chaos going on over in Europe, should I stall my travel plans?” or “Should I be worried about the Zika Virus?” These are questions that I can’t tell a client how to feel about, but I can tell them my personal opinion on them. And that’s what this post is dedicated to—my opinion. Because my job requires me to do so, I do stay up-to-date on the news regarding travel and what’s happening around the world. I feel that my opinion is in fact based on a substantial amount of knowledge and experience that I have gained through working in the field of international travel day in and day out.
With the recent airport bombing in Brussels, some of my clients have been having second thoughts about their trips they either have planned already or have been planning for some time. We see pictures on the news of people running away in fear after the bombing with blood spots on their clothes and screams on their lips. It’s a horrific sight and it’s sickening to think that innocent people have died for seemingly no reason at all.
With the Zika Virus, the newspapers and internet have been overtaken by comments about the mysterious effects of the virus. It’s still unclear what the lasting threat is of the ailment. I’ve read reports claiming the only danger is if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant, but I’ve read others that say if you contract Zika, overcome it, and get pregnant 5 years later, your baby could still suffer the consequences of that mosquito bite. The truth is, there isn’t enough research yet and there isn’t enough evidence to provide a definitive answer on it at this point.
Both terrorism and the Zika Virus are serious threats and legitimate concerns for travelers. The effects of them on many people is undeniable and should not be ignored.
But the other thing to consider is that there are threats and diseases in every single country you visit. Hell, there are things to worry about in your own front yard. They’re not as publicized because they’re familiar. Zika is new and unknown. When Malaria was first a thing, it was emphatically publicized just like Zika is, but now we know the extent of its effects and that it’s not fatal if responded to with the proper treatment. It’s not the same thing, of course, but my point is that you can catch a rare disease here in the US and be given 2 months to live. This isn’t to scare you, but rather to convey that every day you walk out you’re front door, you’re at risk. Why not take that risk in a tropical paradise instead?
Just to put this in perspective for you: in 2013, the Center for Disease Control reported nearly 3 million deaths as a result of heart disease. In that same year 2013, a mere 7 fatalities were reported in the US and 13 worldwide as a result of terrorism according to a report by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. You’re so many more times likely to be affected by something like this than by a terrorism attack or a rare disease or virus while on vacation—don’t limit yourself because of such a so very slim statistic.
Take the shooting in San Bernardino, California that took place in December this past year. That was allegedly ISIS supporters—HERE. In the United States. It wasn’t in Europe or the Caribbean, and yet we still go to the grocery store, to school, and to the post office. There have been shootings in almost every major city of the US for a myriad of reasons. This stuff happens everywhere! Don’t stop your life and put a halt to the things you love to be “careful”.
Don’t cancel the trip to England you’ve been looking forward to for a whole year because you’re worried the train station will be blown up or you’ll catch some British disease not present here in the States. By that same logic, you should be barricaded in your own home, refusing to leave for fear of catching the Swine Flu or being in a fluke car accident.
When you go to work, you wear a seat belt in the car, right? When you go on a vacation to a tropical region, wear mosquito repellent. It’s the same exact concept.
I refuse to live in fear. Instead, I’ll go on as I always have—experiencing the world to its fullest and not allowing fear to govern me. If I did that, the only world I’d know is the inside of a bedroom. With only one life to live, I’d rather die seeing the world and having the experience of a lifetime than die safe and regretful inside the walls of a life I’ve lived monotonously day after day… That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.
CAITLYN WITHOUT A COMPASS