MTM and I devoured the news. Brussels, Belgium was on travel lockdown. The US Embassy warned Americans to stay indoors, to avoid crowds. US military travel was frozen. Troops with submachine guns roamed cobbled streets already spit-shined for the holiday.
We had two airline tickets for Brussels. Leaving the day before Thanksgiving. After twenty-four hours of deliberation and debate, we called our airline. No, not to cancel our trip. We wanted to review our options for both near-Brussels and alternative travel.
It’s easy to find the nearest bunker in this terrorist age. Parisian-style attacks can (and probably will) happen anywhere, anytime. MTM and I decided to pursue our annual “No Family Holidays With Family” Thanksgiving trip as normal, because if we didn’t, the terrorists win. We came up with five reasons to keep traveling. We hope our list will help you see the world while staying smart and safe.
- Book your tickets, and don’t worry about what *might* happen. Statistics still show you’re more likely to be injured or die within a few miles of home, right? So why miss experiences because of fear?
- If you’re patient, airlines can be very accommodating. Even though the US State Department still had not issued a Brussels travel alert, Delta vetted options and rebooked our flights without the usual change fees. The customer service representative even went to bat for us with her supervisors and won us a drastically reduced fare.
- Travel builds understanding. We’ve been in touch with both strangers and friends in Europe throughout this crisis. The Belgians are unflappable, resolute, and warm. We will definitely visit Belgium soon to help shop owners, restauranteurs, and hoteliers recover.
- Travel encourages flexibility. We’ve been planning our trip to Brussels since summer. Imagine what it’s like to hold a ticket to a different city, a place about which I know virtually NOTHING. And we still depart on Wednesday. With no time to research or plan, we’ll wing everything. Am I stressed? Nah. This trip will be a true adventure. How often does adventure come our way?
- We can be smart in the face of terror. For the first time in several years, readers won’t find me online during my trip. I’m not broadcasting our new destination on social media (and if you know it, please don’t mention it.) I won’t post photos, geolocate anything, or chronicle our whereabouts while we’re away. Terrorists can easily track those markers, and they’ve used them to target Americans overseas. We’re taking a genuine, unplugged vacation.
I. Can’t. Wait!
What are you doing for Thanksgiving? Please share your VERY GENERAL plans in a comment. I’d love to be able to imagine your festivities on Thanksgiving Day, because if you’re here, you’re a diehard. I’m thankful you YOU.