March 24, 2016
by Mary Zdancewicz
On the morning of the recent terrorist attacks, I was dropped off at the airport in Missoula, Montana, to begin my journey back to Pennsylvania after an extended time with family and the Tripsite Missoula team. It was 5:15 am. Upon arriving at my gate, I noticed the news, on every TV screen, another terrorist attack.
The sound was turned down so it took some time to read the banner as it scrolled from left to right. At first, I thought the airport attacked was Chicago but as I continued to read, realized it was Brussels.
It could have been Chicago. Sadly, this is the world we live in. This is my reality and yours.
Because I work in travel, these events affect my professional life but because I travel, I am also profoundly affected on a personal level. I cannot minimize or ignore the facts or downplay the fear that I feel. You feel it too.
So what are my thoughts and why have I decided to continue to travel in spite of the fear, in spite of the uncertainty?
Because it is who I am.
Let’s face it. It has not been a safe world for a long, long time. In 1975, fresh off the farm, I arrived in Argentina for a student exchange program. Midway through that year, the country plunged into a political and economic crisis, resulting in a military coup. The months that followed have come to be known as the country’s Dirty War in which thousands of students and unionists “disappeared”. It turned out, it was not a safe place to be.
My Argentinian family.
Living and traveling in Argentina changed me, as all travel does. I was able to live in a country in a unique time in its history and deeply understand the people and the culture. I was enriched and I was educated. It was then that I came to realize that for me, travel is not just entertainment.
A farewell feast. Goodbye to a country and people I grew to love!
I cannot ignore the fact that there are potential terror threats as I travel or other threats to my safety, as well. In fact, in many ways, the other dangers are far more looming than a terror attack. There have been several close calls! Once a speeding bus almost took me out in Amsterdam. I have fallen from my bike on a treacherous trail in Portugal. I have had a camera stolen from right beside me as I slept in a train station in Venice.
Travel is risky business.
Sitting in airports all that day, I observed my fellow travelers. It is my favorite thing to do. Ladened with assorted carry-ons and backpacks, coming and going, each one of us has our own unique experiences that make us who we are. I quietly celebrated our shared spirit of resilience.
So as I close, I do acknowledge that each and every one of us must recognize the reality, assess and face the situation, and continue the journey. Some of us may decide to stay home. Others will go.
I for one, am going.
Check out this article in the New York Times: "Is Europe Safe for Travelers? Yes, Experts Say, but Here Are Some Tips".