A few weeks ago, I returned to Greece for a friend's beautiful wedding, where I had a truly wonderful time reacquainting myself with the paradise that is Santorini. I also returned to one of my all-time favorite cities, London, for a few days of working and catching up with friends and family. It was a near-perfect trip with the exception of the unfortunate incident when someone set off an explosion in the Parsons Green tube.
I wasn't near the explosion — I had left London that morning to fly to Greece for the weekend — and fortunately this time there were no fatalities, but it was a scary reminder of the prevalence of these incidents in so many of the cities where people love to live and visit.
When the explosion occurred, several friends and family who knew I was in London reached out to me while I reached out to those in London, who were fortunately all okay. But the conversation and outreach — which I've had with friends and family after London, Barcelona, Paris, Brussels, Orlando and, most recently, Las Vegas — show the stark reality of living and traveling in today's world.
This feels like the new reality of traveling, particularly in Western Europe: an awareness of the things that could happen and a continuation of checking in with loved ones with the hope that they're safe.
People have always had to and should take precautions when traveling, but it's more than that now. At least it feels that way to me. It occurs to me when I'm in a crowded place that something could happen. I sometimes find my eyes scanning around me when I commute to my office, and I kept looking at the barriers and cars driving by me during my time in London.
This feels like the new reality of traveling, particularly in Western Europe: an awareness of the things that could happen and a continuation of checking in with loved ones with the hope that they're safe. These are things that would not have remotely crossed my mind when I was a grad student running up and down the streets of London. But this is a new world, one in which the good and the bad are displayed 24 hours a day seven days a week across multiple platforms and in myriad ways. A world in which sometimes an action is taken to hopefully prevent another attack and sometimes we look on in frustration as political leaders repeatedly fail to take those precautionary measures.
So, what does this mean for travel, and are we safe to travel to some of these frequently-visited places?
I definitely can't speak as an expert on this, only as myself, but I believe what's happening now has changed a number of people's desires to travel to certain places, or it's at least given them some pause. And I don't blame anyone for feeling the way they do. But for many others who've had some of these cities on their bucket lists, they're carrying on as usual and traveling to the places they've always dreamed of one day seeing, perhaps with a bit more caution than they would have before.
For me, I try to take precautions and be as aware as I can, but I also know I don't want to live life in fear. It's just not how I'm wired or how I want my life to be. And I think one of the best things we can do is live – with passion, empathy, curiosity and purpose.