I was in Nice, France the night of the terrorist attack.
Without a care in the world, we laughed and took videos from the rooftop of a French chateau this Bastille Day. As the fireworks ended, our merriment came to a sudden halt. A text came through alerting us to an attack on Nice, just ten minutes away from where we were celebrating. Heart sinking, we reached out to friends who planned on watching fireworks in Nice that night, and there on the rooftop we prayed.
In a day and age where terrorist attacks have become so frequent that the general public has become numb to news of another, two dangers arise: as a culture we can become callous to the evil present in our world today and move on with life as if nothing happened, or we can become so afraid of impending danger that we refuse to leave the small corner of the world that we believe to be safe.
As I flew back to the states, I watched my friends attend memorials and mourn with a country that had just lost so many innocent souls at the hand of violence and hatred. It made my heart break and ache to be there with them, and it made me realize that as a society we have a duty to honor those we have lost, and make things better somehow.
Easy as it may be to block out what is going on around us and go on living seemingly safe and secure lives, I believe it is important to feel the gravity of this problem that has been diseasing our world so that something may be done about it. Can we, as Mahatma Gandhi once said, “be the change that (we) wish to see in the world?” Can we think of ways that we ourselves can be more peaceful, kind, and loving? Can we start with those we are closest to and branch out to acquaintances, and even strangers? Can our choices to hold our tongue when we’re angry, give a sincere compliment, or take time to help someone really help peace prevail in a world where the media shows us that evil seems to be winning? We can’t know for sure, but I believe it is the only place to start.
It is my hope that the readers of this magazine would be that change, and start the domino effect that leads to peace and kindness beginning to overtake its opposites. I hope and pray that these readers would affect the kind of change that allows people to travel freely, peacefully, and respectfully of those who have experienced such tragic losses, in hopes that we could one day live in a world where these tragedies are no longer common place.
Until that day, we must be present and aware of our circumstances while traveling through this uncertain planet. Here are my top tips for safe travels in an unsafe world.
Tell Mom, Not Facebook
Be sure to let people know where you are, but avoid posting to social media. This is especially important for those who have many followers or whose security settings are set to public. You never know who is paying attention to where you are at all times, so only tell people you are close to.
Always Watch Your Surroundings
Gotta keep your head up, Oh oh! Keep your eyes and try to stay off the phone as much as possible. Breaking the phone addiction brings awareness to our surroundings.This helps to spot potential dangers, but, more importantly, helps us to enjoy the beauty all around us and be fully present to the moment, people, and life we so often miss while staring down at our cell phones.
Emergency, Not 911
Know the emergency contact numbers in the country you are traveling to. 911 will not be helpful outside the United States, so you may want to download free apps such as Emergency Call Anywhere that will access emergency numbers according to your location.
Make sure to have a good internet plan on your phone when traveling abroad. I find the most important features to be Google maps and Uber, because getting lost somewhere you are unfamiliar with rarely adds happy feelings to your vacation experience.
Enjoy the loveliness of this beautiful world we inhabit by being fully present and aware of everything around you. Stay safe, be kind, and make a difference out there dear glamorous travelers!