The Syrian refugee crisis, bombings in Paris, bombings in Africa, planes exploding in mid-air. Should we travel? Shouldn’t we? How does a family decide.
Some people I know have cancelled vacations abroad — they don’t want to take the risk. Right now, they’re afraid to travel. I get that. Yet, I wonder — if we all stay home, do we win? Or in allowing fear to keep us home, do we lose?
When I was afraid to travel…. and what I learned when I said yes anyway.
A few years ago, my son and I spent 10 days in Juarez, Mexico — at the time the #1 “murder capital of the world” (today it’s #37) — on missions. I’ll be honest, there were moments when my fears grabbed hold, but we had a choice. We decided to go. I am thankful — for the lessons learned, the friendships made, and the opportunity to see my son flourish in a new environment.
This past summer, Ben went on another mission trip to Charleston, South Carolina. It seemed so safe. He went to rebuild porch steps, weed flower beds, trim overgrown bushes and clean trash in poor neighborhoods. Charleston — one of America’s stately southern cities. Refined. Safe. Who could have guessed that he would be there when a young man decided to murder the parishioners in a church? Ben saw people heading there for services just one hour earlier. So safe…. yet so not.
When afraid to travel, should we? Shouldn’t we?
I can’t answer that question for anyone else. But for me and my family, the lessons learned in travel — the people we meet who join our circle of friends, the stereotypes broken — terrorist threat or not, that lesson is too valuable. I can’t let being afraid to travel define me.
We may avoid some places perhaps (I don’t see myself in Syria anytime soon). We will certainly review cultural do’s and don’ts before we visit a place. We will be aware of our surroundings. But — we will travel.
There’s too much good in this beautiful world to let a little fear keep us home.
But if you’re not ready for that, I understand. I wasn’t so sure I could do it just a few short years ago.