In the fall of 2001, I was working as an editorial intern in the New York headquarters of BusinessWeek magazine. On the morning of September 12th, I nervously rode a nearly empty commuter train into Manhattan and reported for work. Barely 24 hours after the September 11th attacks, the editors were tearing up the issue and creating a new cover and cover story.
The art directors posted two versions of the new cover on the wall. The image was the same on both: the burning, crumbling twin towers. The only difference? One coverline read “Act of Terror.” The other read “Act of War.”
They went with “Act of War.”
And here we are almost 15 years later, with tragic news clogging our Facebook and Twitter feeds on a daily, if not hourly, basis: suicide bombings in Brussels, Istanbul, Paris. Hundreds of innocent people injured or killed while commuting to work, sharing a meal with friends, traveling with their families. Not to mention bombings that don’t get as much—if any—airtime from the U.S. media, in Lahore, Ankara, Ivory Coast, Beirut, Yemen, and Nigeria.
And now, a travel alert for Europe issued by the U.S. State Department.
It’s enough to convince the biggest extrovert to stay home and give up on the world.
The people responsible for these horrific acts want us to hunker down and stop expanding our worldview, stop talking with people whose perspectives may differ from ours. Yes, we should exercise caution when choosing our destinations, remembering our own safety and the concerns of loved ones. We should never deliberately put ourselves in harm’s way. But we must accept that there are no guarantees anywhere in the world, not these days. Risk is a part of travel, but we can’t give up on the world.
I can’t stop traveling. And I won’t stop traveling. My team at AFAR hopes to guide your travel decisions in these complicated times. We are committed—now more than ever—to helping travelers have deeper, richer, and more fulfilling experiences, whether you’re 5 miles from home or 5,000 miles from home.
Today I’m off to get my 16-month-old her first passport. We’re heading to Europe soon. It’s time for her first stamp.