New Travel Paradigm

The world became a scarier place for travel as the 11/13 tragedy in Paris unfolded. The obvious intention of ISIS terrorists to attack the values of those who simply seek the freedom to enjoy life in travel weighs heavily. While staying home will never fit my adventurous character, I realize there is a need for me to change. In the mind of this committed world trekker then, I describe the following actions that make sense to follow in an evolving world of extremist violence.
  1. Appearance – Avoid flaunting your country of origin .Blend in with your surroundings. Dress casually in a non-colorful way and avoid excessive body ornaments/jewelry. Emblems on hats and tee shirts should not stand out with hip slogans or pop images. Camouflage your use of personal devices when possible
  2. Route Planning – Realize that mass gatherings of people invite prime terroristic targets. Do not linger at overcrowded entryways. Experiment with routes that avoid congested streets. Take advantage of early and extended opening hours in stores/attractions to avoid crowd rush. Anticipate a time/place to use the WC that allows maximum privacy. Use a cellphone camera to take pictures of street names and landmarks for later reference.
  3. Lodging – Open windows make inviting targets when facing crowded streets. Do not linger near them. Avoid clutter in an apartment to allow maximum mobility when needed. Scan this facility for multiple exit possibilities. Stairs should be accompanied by an elevator option. Consider storing extra water and food in case of impending curfews.
  4. Language – Observe both words and actions in interpersonal encounters. If you have difficulty understanding someone’s language, consider how both their body and facial movements may provide clarity. Realize the threat potential of unnatural eye contact and narrowing body distance in conversational exchanges. Word translations obtained by cellphone are useless when wifi is unavailable.
  5. Stress Relief – Focus on the present moments of travel to pre – assess any dangers surrounding you. How long you stay at a scheduled destination should not consume your mind. Avoid answering questions that reveal personal opinions about religion, politics, or moral values. Have exact change ready to minimize
    overcharge on mass transit routes. Avoid queues to major attractions by purchasing tickets online ahead of time
  6. Shopping – Understand that what you buy may attract unneeded attention in a terrorist driven situation. Souvenirs like flags, banners and sports memorabilia that cannot be stored inconspicuously should be avoided. Store items purchased in a backpack when possible. Realize that shopping malls can introduce congested points of entry and exit. Avoid lingering in narrow corridors of outdoor shopping bazaars.
  7. Gender Roles – Never assume you are traveling in a country where woman and men are treated equally. Consider the impression you give for an alluring appearance (i.e. jewelry, cosmetics , show of skin ) in places where Islamic culture is evident. Negative humor and sarcasm are to be the avoided when reference is given to male/female differences.
  8. Entertainment – Alcohol is not a prerequisite to enjoyment in social gathering situations. Obtain a seat in crowded arenas to avoid standing in mass on the floor. Consider a time of entry and exit to an event that will avoid crowd congestion. Arrive early for a concert or sporting event to observe the security procedures for exiting an arena and placement of ushers. Use a simple compass to orient direction to nearest exit.
Freedom of travel is a privilege of this Democracy. Since there are many who seek to destroy our cherished freedoms, it is vital that I weigh the risks involved in making travel choices with a cautious attitude. My personal battle to frustrate the terrorism cause is only beginning yet I remain committed to a world of multicultural co-existence. I wish you safe travels abroad in this extraordinary time of global uncertainty.

 

 

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