This TravelingMom was supposed to be in Europe with her 10-year-old daughter on the day terrorists bombed Brussels. Here, she talks about the impact such attacks have on travelers. Tougher airport security measures might be the most obvious result, but that is just one way these attacks are changing the way we travel.
Terrorist Attacks and Travel
The bombing in Brussels is hitting very close to home right now.
My 10-year-old daughter and I were supposed to be traveling in Europe today, returning from our whirlwind trip to several countries. Our vacation started last Tuesday and was supposed to last a week, but was cut down to five days after her father decided to join us.
In our five days away, we were on seven different planes in five different countries, on two boats, in cabs, trains, and buses, as well.
Did I worry for our safety? A little. The Paris attacks were always in the back of my mind, but beyond that, I went into the trip thinking we’d be just as safe there as we were in the United States.
I did notice a difference in safety procedures as we went through various airports. In Stockholm and Latvia, no one asked us to remove shoes, as they do in the US. However, inside the Paris airport, when we checked in for our flight, we did count several well-armed security guards patrolling the area, taking special note of us as we condensed bags we were carrying on our flight.
We didn’t leave the Moscow airport, so I have no idea if security was tighter at the departure gates there, but they definitely were more cautious through customs.
A Successful Trip
Upon our return, as we reviewed all we’d experienced, we were thankful for good weather during our trip. It was sunnier than normal in Stockholm. We had no rain in Paris. There was snow on the ground in Moscow, but the only ice storm we flew through was, surprisingly, coming out of New York City to Atlanta.
We celebrated the fact that we had no flight delays and made it on all the special tours we’d booked, from standing on the top floor of the Eiffel Tower in Paris to having drinks in an ice bar in Sweden. We saw the Mona Lisa at the Louvre. We lit candles for those we love in the Notre Dame Cathedral.
We called it all the ‘trip of a lifetime’.
Now, I feel fortunate for the timing of it all.
If we had booked this trip just one week later, I believe this attack would have forced us to scrap all plans. Just like that.
In Paris, they thanked us for visiting, knowing many have stayed away out of fear of more attacks like the one several months ago. My response was it was because of the attacks that I felt compelled to go, to show I was not going to allow terrorists to make me hide out at home.
But, saying that today doesn’t feel as wise. What kind of parent would I be if I willingly took my children to Europe now—after this next attack? Wouldn’t that be putting them in harm’s way? Would seeing the landmarks and national treasures be worth the risk?
And even if I decided I’d go anyway, it’d be a logistical nightmare to be there right now, as we had originally planned. Getting home today, from Paris, would prove to be difficult, even if I decided to risk it. Airports are on the very highest alert, with the one in Brussels shut down entirely, along with the train stations.
I’m not sure when it might feel safe to go again, and be certain, that was my intention. I still want to see Venice, Rome, Barcelona, and so much more.
But with this latest attack, I may be sitting on those plans for a while, especially if I want to bring my daughter along.
I want to be braver than that. I don’t want the terrorists to win. But today, I’m not feeling that strong.
Read these tips from experts about how to be prepared for an emergency when you travel.
Read another Traveling Mom’s reaction to the Brussels bombings and what she tells her traveling kids.