The U.S. State Department has issued a travel advisory for Americans traveling in Europe. But is it helpful?
There seems to be something going on in the terrorist underworld in Europe. Somebody appears to be up to something bad. Americans are being warned to be extra diligent while visiting such tourist hot spots as London, Paris and Rome.
My wife and I are world travelers. We’ve been to most of Europe, Scandinavia, much of Southeast Asia, the South Pacific, Caribbean, etc. In fact, check out my travel site to see where our travels have taken us. It’s called the Web Travel Guide. While it’s reassuring that our government is keeping an eye on possible terrorist acts, there’s not a whole heck of a lot that travelers can do to prevent a terrorist strike.
The State Department says it is concerned about an attack similar to the one carried out at a posh hotel in Mumbai, India. Americans are urged to be cautious while visiting such landmarks as the Eiffel Tower in Paris. But short of steering clear of all the things that one “must see” in Paris and in other cities, what can one do? Not much. Could you possibly visit London and not see the British Airways Eye? No way.
If you’re in Paris you’ve spent a lot of money to get there and you’re going to want to see the Eiffel Tower. By the way, it’s really old and rickety when you get to the top. And when you consider that it was built in 1889, you think to yourself: “How on Earth did they build this thing way back then?”
One thing you do learn, and something the U.S. has not learned, are some ways to help make it harder for would be terrorists. For example, when you’re passing through any train station in London, you’ll never find a waste basket or, as they say over there, a rubbish bin. That’s because such containers are perfect hiding places for IRA or other bombs. One time while we were visiting London, 7 IRA bombs went off!
Preventing crime is a whole different ballgame. There are many things that Americans can do abroad to help from being victimized by crooks. Things like wearing a money belt, traveling in groups, and being aware of the tricks of the trade. One thing thugs enjoy doing overseas is to work in pairs. One guy goes to put mustard on something and “accidentally” gets it on you. A buddy offers to help clean up the mess and while he’s patting you down with a paper towel or something, the other dude is reaching into your purse or pocket to steal your wallet. But all out terrorism like what happened at an expensive hotel in Mumbai, how can you avoid that?
With the travel advisory in mind, it basically boils down to two choices. Make the trip and hope for the best or call the whole thing off. Personally if we had a big international trip planned today, we’d be on the jet chomping at the bit to drink in every second of our journey.
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