How do you deal with fear of terrorism when traveling?

I do not want to be an “alarmist” but today we had a recent major bombing at an airport & subway in Brussels. A few months back there was Paris. I am currently on my European part of this years trip and it is on my mind.

There are many places that are off the map for Digital Nomads and for good reason. Safety due to war or major crime. I am talking places like Syria, parts of Iraq, few islands in Philippines, a few province in Mexico, El Salvador, etc. But places that aren´t historically unsafe do causes concern to people, specifically your back home family&friends.

As a traveler how do you deal with terrorism or major crime when it is around where you are visit? Also secondly how do you deal with at home messages from family members.

It’s not something I really think about. Your safety isn’t guaranteed anywhere in this world and you could be targeted anywhere including at home. There are a lot more risky things in this world.

I was living in Tokyo during the Tohoku earthquake and, I think the main thing is to get on social media and let family and friends know you are safe and settle immediate concerns. Outside of that, you can’t manage other people’s fears.

You’re more likely to be fatally crushed by furniture than killed by a terrorist

You could just as well ask how to avoid furniture when traveling.

And the other answer is, don’t visit war zones. Seems very obvious :slightly_smiling:


What happened in Brussels was horrible but how would someone have predicted what happened ahead of time to inform them not to go there?

These events are random and difficult to research into to make good travel decisions.

If you’re optimizing your travels to be as safe as possible then visit countries that have a good reputation for being safe to visit. But even then things can go wrong, I mean back home I’ve been held up at knife point and that was in Sydney’s Northern Beaches which is super safe and never ran into any issues travelling like ever.

After the Brussels attack, I thought about it, for about 30 seconds. Even though I was about to leave Iceland for London, I didn’t let it bother me. I was even in London during the 2005 bombings, and they were about 1 mile away from me at the time of going off. @levelsio and @kathrynoh had great points, there is danger everywhere and it’s not just terrorism. I’m from Chicago, and I was jumped there 3 times in 2 years. The worst I’ve ever had in Europe is leaving my wallet on a London bus, drunkenly dropping my iPhone 6+ in a toilet in Reykjavik, missing trains/flights, etc. You can’t predict terrorism, earthquakes, or…er, furniture crushing :wink: I am a digital nomad and I’m DEATHLY afraid of flying, you just have to accept when it’s your time, it’s you time. Move on, and enjoy every day like it’s your last. That’s why we leave this lifestyle right?

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I don’t. The odds are higher that I’ll be killed in a traffic accident or shot by a mass shooter when I’m back in the USA than that I’ll get killed by a terrorist while traveling. Stuff happens all the time that you can’t control. Worrying about it or fearing it is just a waste of energy.

I had to change plans 3 times in the last couple of months after Paris, first lockdown in Brussels and now the Brussels attacks. I still traveled to those places, but had to adapt to the situation.

I definitely do due diligence when traveling, but not only related to terrorism, since I go a lot to remote places. If you don’t, its your choice but should not be promoted, especially not as some kind of attitude or life-style. Comparisons like the chance of being killed in a terrorist attack vs. the chance of being crushed by furniture are unproductive - There is always something that is less or more life threatening and there are tons of comparisons like x more people die of y every year then from z.

I am not saying one should worry - if you start worrying you ll probably never stop again - but you should somehow include the risks, including terrorism, in your travel plans. You don’t travel to the middle east without checking the reports, you don’t go on a trip in the Sahel without evaluating the situation, you don’t go to the southeast of turkey without a plan etc. etc. and some parts of Europe are part of the areas one should at least quickly monitor before going. There are valid and official warnings regarding the security, including possible natural disaster, from governments, foreign ministries etc. that can be easily checked and these should be followed - not because we are afraid or because it will keep us all safe, but simply because it reduces the risks.

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This writeup has some interesting statistics:

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I avoid places that are low security, and crowded with westerns, like Starbucks ie. Recently I decided not to visit a water park due to warnings by Australian government. Although later I realized how is anyone going to bring in a bomb since everyone’s in their bathing suits.

Well no, comparisons like that are productive:

you were FOUR times more likely to be struck by lightning than killed by a terrorist (via @flyonthewall)

OP is asking how to deal with the fear, well the fear is highly irrational. Is OP scared of lightning all the time? No. So why terrorism? It doesn’t make sense.

A good example. I’m from Amsterdam. The central station is probably a big target for terrorism now. It’s the most iconic place of the city with locals and travelers alike.

To be there at the same place if there’s a terror attack means I have to pick the right day and time. Since I’m only passing through there for about 5 mins in, then entering the train, or 5 mins out. It means I have a 5 of 1440 minutes per day chance in the day that terror strikes or 1 in 288. Now let’s say nothing happens for a year and then one day a terror attack strikes. That means 1 in 288 * 365 days or 1 in 105,120. That is, if we’re confident it will happen in the next 365 days which is also unlikely.

The risk of me dying in a car (even with a seatbelt) in a year is 1 in 17,625 (

I’m still 6x more likely to die in a car accident than a terrorist attack at the central station of my city which is a terrorist target ONLY if we’re sure it’s going to be hit this year.

Furthermore, outside of that “the chances of being killed in a terrorist attack are about 1 in 20 million”

Why is it important to mention the statistics? Because it’s rational. And it doesn’t give us an emotionally skewed perspective on a highly unlikely scenario. Which in turns influences politics, war and the increase of a commercial security industry. The question is, do you want to highly armed guards everywhere? Do you want to live in a society like that? I don’t.

That was my question in the body. The title does say fear but I think you are slightly reading it wrong or it comes off as being specifically that way. Anyway… Your stats have lots of issues.

  1. assumption that statistically we as Digital Nomads are not outliers. We are. I get on 20 planes, 20-30 trains and stay in exotic places annually. Average person who is part of your stat lives in 1 place. Does way less travel then that.

  2. Terrorism should be really changed to crime. Sorry for that Yes a bombing can be politically motivated but many smaller acts of crime do not get put into that statistic I assume. Are the organized Mafia muggings Naples added to that? What about kidnapping in parts of Mexico? What about shake downs when driving in parts of Guatemala. All similar.

Looking at statistics definitely do help you gauge reality but if they are looked incorrectly it can also skew realty.

Anyway to answer my own question, I do like @kathrynoh I put out on FB I am living…lol.

During the earthquake in Japan I was…in Japan. Got calls and emails. I just decided not to take them all and Just put out Gif on FB saying I am living and fine.

Back in the day I was also in Sept 11th downtown on business. Facebook wasn’t around. Ended up walking uptown and using a Payphone (can you believe that) and calling my mother. She was the hub of social media at the time. :slight_smile:

Recently a friend was shot during Bataclan. Major concert goer and DN his wife called me and I told her to just do a FB post. She did and got hundreds of messages.

Anyway. Yeah use Social Media. 100%

Definitely higher risk with more travelling but I’m not sure if the actual destination (unless you are in a high risk area) puts you at more danger. The thing about terrorism is that it can happen anywhere. The surprise factor is key.

I wouldn’t class all crime as being on the same level as terrorism. Muggings, bag snatching etc is pretty minor in the overall scheme of things.