In December of 2015 my husband and I decided to uproot our life in the United States, sell all of our belongings and travel the world with our two young children. We would live abroad in different countries with our kids even after the terrorist attacks in Brussels, after the airport bombing in Istanbul, after the attack in Nice and even kept flying course to Germany after violence in Munich. Quite frankly we raised a few eyebrows and received calls for concern during the months that led up to our departure to Frankfurt. People asked:
“Why travel with young children when it seems terrorism is on the rise?” “Aren’t you afraid of all the violence in Europe right now?”
No, we aren’t. We aren’t going to allow terrorism to stop us from traveling because we own a different perspective on the matter. The perspective isn’t complicated; it’s embedded in realism and backed up by statistics.
The statistics are in our favor — from 2005-2015 71 Americans died abroad as a result of terrorism; compare those statistics to the 301,797 Americans who were killed by gun violence domestically in the same period and you can see where the threat lies. We are more at risk on our domestic soil than we are traveling abroad with our young children. Mass shootings killing four or more people in the United States have taken place in almost 100 metro cities within the last 12 months alone.
Even with the statistics above, I’m still more likely to die as a result of drowning in my bathtub (1 in 800,000) than die as a result of terrorism (1 in 20 million). That, to me, is reassuring.
Instead of assuming terrorism lurks around every corner, I make a point to put sunscreen on my kid’s skin because the sun is more of a health hazard than almost anything else we will come across in our travels. We understand the fear and the psychological stigma that comes with toiling over terrorism, so we acknowledge it then let it go. There isn’t any point to dwell on uncertainty or plan for the teeny, tiny chance we might be somewhere close to violence abroad.
Above all else, the world is worth exploring. It doesn’t serve us or anyone else to live our lives in constant fear and uncertainty, and that constant fear won’t keep me a prisoner inside my home. The benefits of traveling far outweigh the possible yet grossly unlikely chance we will be anywhere near terrorism. We are growing as human beings and allowing our children to live alongside new and vibrant cultures different from their own. We hope to groom our children through our travels to be better citizens of the world and to understand the wildly wonderful opportunities the world has to offer. Perhaps becoming better citizens of the world means they will be a part of something bigger and better for this world and the turbulent times we almost always face. We won’t know if we don’t try.