As soon as the announcement hit the airwaves, I began to receive calls from family and friends asking if I intended to cancel my trip. No, I do not plan to cancel my trip. The threat of terrorism may be heightened, but in today's world, isn't it always? But then, there's the "what ifs..."
Even though I try not to live my life by the "what ifs," I do plan for some of them--and in this case, it's the wisest thing I can do to help ensure my safety and provide some comfort to those I leave back home. Here are a few examples:
WHAT IF THE TERRORIST THREAT WORSENS?
Every morning, I read newspapers and online news sources to get the latest news. I also have subscribed to the U.S. Department of State's travel alert notices. Both sources give me up-to-date information to help me better understand the severity of the situation.
WHAT IF A TERRORIST ACT OCCURS PRIOR TO MY DEPARTURE?
The unexpected can happen at any time. A vacation can be interrupted (or stopped before it even starts) by numerous events: natural disasters, medical emergencies, union strikes, and yes, terrorist attacks. That's why it is a good idea to cover yourself with travel insurance. Travel insurance will help you recoup money lost on airline tickets, hotel costs and many other travel expenses due to unexpected interruptions or cancellations.
WHAT IF AN ATTACK OCCURS DURING MY VISIT?
Again, anything can happen to anyone at anytime. Before leaving, I make sure I have copies of all my important documents (passports, credit cards, etc.) in the event they are lost or stolen. I write down emergency phone numbers (family, insurance companies, credit card companies--remember, 1-800 numbers do not work from foreign countries) in case my cell phone becomes inoperable, lost or stolen. And, I write down the address of the U.S. Embassy in the city I'm visiting should I need emergency assistance.
The next thing I do is register my trip with the U.S. Department of State. By registering (and it's FREE, by the way), you help the nearest U.S embassy locate you when you might need them most.
Lastly, have a designated meeting point established should you and your travel companion(s) get separated. This is a good idea under any circumstance. My husband and I agree that should we ever become separated, we will meet up at our hotel.
WHAT IF THERE ARE NO EMERGENCIES WHILE I'M AWAY?
Hooray! I will claim another wonderful European experience! Millions of Americans travel abroad every year and encounter no problems. The "what-ifs" will always be there. We can't avoid them, we can only prepare for them!