On the Fly™ - Editorial Commentary by Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams

April 14, 2003: Is it safe to travel?

As if the thought of terrorists and war weren't enough, we now hear about illness that can be terminal. So should we stay home? When we want or need to go somewhere, is any place safe? If you were in charge of choosing the venue for the Bush/Blair meeting, would you have chosen Northern Ireland? Is it safe there?

These and other issues for the business and leisure traveler will be addressed on “Travel With Stephanie Abrams!” on Sunday, April 20, 2003, when we look at where Tony Blair and President Bush chose to have their recent meeting. Among the guests will be Sharon O'Connor, Director of Cultural and Economic Development for Northern Ireland, a Northern Ireland government agency, who will discuss why Northern Ireland was selected as the site of the Bush-Blair meeting and explain why chosing a safe and secure location was of paramount importance. You'll learn where Bush and his administrative staff stayed during their visit and get insights into what it was like to have top American officials in “the neighborhood.”

As a person who has been labeled an “Expert” in travel and listed as one of the “100 Most Powerful Women in Travel,” I'm often asked my thoughts on whether it's safe to leave home. I have a personal philosophy and point of view that works for me. I won't go anywhere where the US Government issues a travel advisory. I won't go anywhere where it is clear that I will be in direct danger of my safety or my health. I won't walk out in front of an on-coming truck. But that doesn't mean I won't step out into traffic to weave my way safely across a road. It means I don't ignore clear and present danger but am not intimidated by a vague sense of fear. The fact is, you can become injured in your own home. My attitude is that when the Lord wants me, he'll know where to find me and, while I won't venture directly into a dangerous situation, I don't allow fear of dying to stop me from living.

We've always had terrorists. . . we just called them something else. Even Columbus was plagued by pirates! Over the centuries, some of the names we've used to describe terrorism are bandits, muggers, gangs, snipers, drive-by shooters, hijackers, the IRA, the Ku Klux Klan. And let's not forget that the Pioneers did not always find themselves on “Happy Trails” being warmly welcomed. But you've probably got a greater chance of being injured slipping on the soap in your bathtub than you have of finding yourself in an encounter with any of the above.

The sad reality is that many people are missing the opportunity for the break they need to recharge their batteries or the face-to-face meeting they need to close a deal and are opting to become their own jailers. Even sadder is the impact of that decision on the US economy. One out of every 9 people on the planet is employed in the travel industry. That includes everyone employed in transportation of every kind, people who work in hotels and resorts, those who staff attractions, plus special travel sectors such as cruising. Consider the economic effect of your decision not to take that trip you planned for business or pleasure because of some vague sense that you'll be safer if you don't leave your house.

The challenges of security lines at the airport are no comparison to what Columbus faced with only 3 tools in his possession: a compass, a sextant, and the North Star, which opted out on him on a cloudy night! You might find renewed respect for the Explorers when you evaluate “clear and present danger” against vague “fears and concerns.”

So, when is the best time to travel? My answer is: when you have the time, the health, and the money! Don't wait for the “perfect time!” There is no such time! Do the intelligent thing by checking the US Government Travel Advisory and go live your life. When the Lord wants you, he'll know where to find you, regardless of where you are!

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