Guide To Safe Travel During The Times Of Terror

By Renuka Shahane on Jan 08, 2019
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Human beings are inherently blessed with the virtues of love and compassion. Religions, creeds, nationalities were devised as a system to regulate this big world. Unfortunately, these differences that were actually meant to diversify and add to the allure of the world have resulted into detriment of humanity.
And needless to say, terrorism is one of the worst problems world is facing today. It is desolating to see how innocent lives are slaughtered under the name of religion. And even if the terrorists are not anywhere close to dampening the spirits of life and hope, terrorism has had an adverse effect on the tourism industry.

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In the times when even our homes are not a safe place anymore, travelling to a totally foreign place just doesn’t sound safe. Increasing cases of blasts in public spaces, hostage situations and particular attacks directed towards tourists are just making it tougher for the countries to ensure that the tourists trust the safety measure undertaken by the country. Be it 9-11, 26-11, London, Madrid or the recent Paris attacks, it is tricky to say that tourism is not affected by terrorism.

Recent studies show that a number of popular holiday destinations in the world have had a significant drop-rate in the number of tourists coming in because of the social unrest.

You can read detailed account of these drop-offs- Tourism, Terrorism and Tomorrow by worldwatch

Be prepared

If you have made travel plans for the next few months, here are few things that you need to check-on before you leave your home:

1. Set up a check-in plan with friends or loved ones

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Always remember, your loved ones back home will be in a deep turmoil if the place that you are visiting is under an attack and you don’t want them to worry for you. Set-up a check in plan, make sure you provide them exact details of your hotel including contact numbers and address, leave a copy of your itinerary with them before you leave and also a copy of your passport in case they need to contact any government bodies.

2. Have a list of emergency contact numbers

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Tuck in the list of emergency contact numbers in your handbag. It should include the contact numbers of your family/friends back home, the contact number of the hotel that you are staying in, the local emergency contacts including the police, social security, tourism department and the embassy.

3. Learn a few phrases in local language

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It might get a tad more difficult to communicate to the locals in the times of turmoil and you might not have the technological resources available that you generally bank on. Best to know few phrases and names of your hotel in the local language!

4. Familiarize yourself with the uniforms of local police

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The one saviour that you can rely on in times of social distress is the police. And you should be well versed with the uniforms of the local police so that you can spot them even in huge crowds and ask for help.

5. Have Cash

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However well spread the network of ATM is, it is always great to have some petty cash handy so that you can make quick transactions.

6. Travel Insurance

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Whenever you are travelling, it is extremely essential to have travel insurance. Especially in situations of turmoil, insurance will come as a boon and might help to cover some emergency expenses.

What to do if you are in a place under attack

Unfortunately if you are in a place that has been a victim of terror attacks, here’s a few steps you can take to stay safe:

1. Stay Indoors

If the place is struck with attacks, the first step you can do is to head towards your hotel. The staff will ensure your safety and you’ll also get a space to breathe. Avoid public spaces as it is more likely to be chaotic.

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During the recent Paris attacks, many hotels and even locals provided shelter to tourists and locals who couldn’t reach their hotels or homes. Locals offered a shelter by tweeting #porteouverte which means ‘open door’ to let people know they have a safe place to stay. Such gestures help us to discover the brilliant display of humanity.

2. Take private transport

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Public transports are more prone to terror and also can be overcrowded during the turmoil. Also, the public transport might be halted for a specific period of time, so it is better to hire a taxi to get to your hotel or shelter.

3. Use social media to get in touch with your home

In case of terror attacks or any kind of emergency, your family back home will probably be worked up thinking about you. The phone lines might be disrupted; networks jammed leaving them with nothing but to wait for you to contact them. In such situations, you can access them via social media if you have access to internet.

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FaceBook offers a customised safety check wherein its users can let their friends and family know that they are safe during natural disasters. FaceBook extended this safety check to terror attacks as well after the Paris attacks.

4. Help yourself but also account for your travel companions

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The first and foremost step during any disaster is to help yourself, that’s not selfish; it’s practical. Once you are totally sure of your safety and well-being, extend your helping hand towards anyone around you. If you are travelling in a group, stay together and keep a tab of everyone’s safety. If anyone is missing, check with the hotel and contact your home consulate ASAP!

5. Follow social media channels of government bodies to know the updates

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Probably doing this before visiting any destination is the best option, it’s better late than never. Social media channels of government bodies are prompt in providing necessary aid and they also update the current situation, which is the safest place to be and where you can contact for any help.

6. Contact your embassy if the situation worsens

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Your best resort in the foreign land, contacting your embassy is one of the best steps you can take in case the situation is out of control and you are totally lost. They will definitely help you to find a safe place and make necessary arrangements for you fly back home safely.

7. Don’t Panic

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Keep Calm, although it’s pretty hard! Panicking will only worsen things for you. Especially if you are travelling with kids, make sure they feel safe and take care of their mental well-being since they might be deeply traumatized by the happenings!

Here's a fantastic account of people holding on to humanity no matter what- It's OK, they might have guns but we have flowers!

The best way to fight terrorism is with hope and peace. If every human being decides to let go his prejudices, takes up the responsibility to make sure that humanity wins over terrorism and believes in the virtue of compassion, the world will be a better place to live in!

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