There was a mass shooting in California yesterday, multiple bombs in Paris three weeks ago, and in recent years we’ve seen attacks at marathons, on planes and in other public locations, each of which triggers in people a little more fear than before. In many large cities and right across the western world, terror status is at high alert. But what are the chances of getting caught up in a terror attack and should you be worried about travelling more than you used to be?
Paris shocked us all, just as we were getting complacent and comfortable about travelling and we can now see the writing on the wall. The signs are that the world is not going to be a terror-free place in the near future.
We’re living in a world where terror can strike at any time. But we all also know that we can’t let it get the better of us and leave us bereft of wonderful travel experiences in the second half of our life. So what should we consider when worrying about the safety of travel in tomorrow’s world?
The chances of being caught in a terror attack are lower than you might think. Understand this.
Between 1978 and 2014, there has been 113 Australian victims of terrorism. That includes Australians killed overseas in terrorist attacks as well as non-Australians killed here, such as the Turkish consul-general murdered in Sydney in 1980. In contrast, 2617 homicides and 8500 people died in car accidents occurred in our country in the ten years from 2002-2013. It goes to show that your chances of being caught in a terror attack is vastly outweighed by your risk of being murdered or being killed on the roads.
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Know what you really should be afraid of when you travel
The chances of being affected by a terororist attack when you are travelling is far smaller than the risk of you being injured or even killed in a car accident, yet it seems strange that the more terrifying scenario to all of us seems to be this. Your chances of contracting norovirus on a cruise and becoming very ill, or being worried about credit card scammers might be a far more worthwhile pursuit of your anxieties.
Understand the sub-conscious reasons why we might be afraid.
Leading psychologists say that new and unfamiliar risks always stand more powerfully at the front of mind. That is, if we don’t understand it, we worry more about it. In contrast, heart disease, which kills 43,000+ people in Australia in 2013, or 30% of the population seems like something relatively less concerning.
We’re less afraid of things that we have more control of as a person and things like heart disease look more understandable than terrorism. Plane crashes seem like something we have no control over, whereas car crashes are something people train themselves to avoid, or at least believe they have a chance of doing so.
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Accept you should try to minimise the risks you have some control over
Seems pretty logical when you think about it that you should choose to focus on the things you can change, rather than worry about the things you can’t control. That is, take car insurance and drive carefully in foreign countries, and worry less about someone catching you in a public place with a bomb.
Consider if you could just “get on with it”
The problem you face as you try to plan a holiday is that when you do so, you don’t know what your risk is or how safe one country is versus another. Websites like Smarttraveller.gov.au can help you weigh the risk of one destination over another by looking at the historical record of violent incidents but both you and I know that today’s safe city could be tomorrow’s Paris.
Of course, while your head may be telling you to go travelling, and your gut may be more than apprehensive. You may be making travel plans—or trying to—and you can’t help but wonder: “If I go, what is the risk that I will get caught in a terrorist incident?
Well, now you have something to think about when your worries come to mind…
Do you worry about terrorism impacting your travel? Or do other travel related worries keep you awake?