Daraius’ Diary – I Never Want “Safe Travels”

Daraius’ Diary – I Never Want “Safe Travels”

Million Mile SecretsDaraius’ Diary – I Never Want “Safe Travels”Million Mile Secrets Team

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Daraius:  We’ve got a great team at Million Mile Secrets.  But I miss writing as much as I did in the old days!  So here I am writing about stuff that I really care about (and which isn’t all miles-and-points related).

“Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.” – Marie Curie

I feel very uncomfortable and dislike folks wishing me “Safe Travels.”  Sure, I understand they mean well, and “Safe Travels” is a form of phatic speech, as trite as, “Have a good day.”

“Safe Travels” makes me wonder if I’m in danger of being abducted and forced to star in a movie with Pamela Anderson!  Or at risk of torture by being force-fed steamed broccoli and warm milk?

Daraius Diary Dont Wish Me Safe Travels
When Someone Wishes Me “Safe Travels,” I Imagine the Plane Is a Time Machine That Might Throw Me Into the Midst of a Battle, or Worse, a Terrible 1990s Movie!

I’d stay at home, if I wanted to be safe.  And is staying at home really safe?  Nothing in life is more certain than the knowledge that we all have an expiration date and will eventually die.

I don’t travel to be safe.

I travel to Live.

For Adventure.  Excitement.  Love.  Memories.  Smiles.  Laughter.  Joy.  Happiness.  Connection.  Gratitude.

As my favorite Stoic put it:

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.” – Marcus Aurelius

I heard a lot of warnings from folks about being “safe” in Johannesburg, South Africa, and not to go to certain parts of town.

So of course I went there!

There were moms and dads, and kids, and grandparents, and folks selling stuff on the streets.

It was dirtier than other parts of Johannesburg, but I felt that this was the more “real” and authentic part of the city – far away from the pubs and fusion restaurants which I can find anywhere I visit.

Daraius Diary Dont Wish Me Safe Travels
When Traveling, I Can Stay “Safe” on the Islands of Familiarity…the Chain Hotel, the Tourist Zones…or I Can Wander and Meet People From a New Culture. I Learn More About Myself & a Different Way of Life When I Wander.

I peeked into a public swimming pool and a swarm of kids ran towards me to say hi!

Daraius Diary Dont Wish Me Safe Travels
Energy and Happiness!

Statistically Speaking

Statistically speaking, flying is less dangerous than driving in a car.  And I drive much more than I fly.  And if you saw how I drive, you’d request a lifejacket and oxygen mask. 🙂

Rick Steves points out, the chances of dying while flying or because of “terrorism” is 1 in 2.2 million.  While the chance of being struck by lightening is 1 in 600,000.

All these are much lower than the chance of dying by gunfire in the US, which is 1 in ~19,000.

So it is ridiculous for me to feel afraid to travel in those countries or elsewhere!

Well Meaning Warnings

I read the US State Department alerts & warnings, and it seems they focus on high-profile exceptions and written with sensationalism in mind, not logic and reason. For example, the travel warning for El Salvador says (bolding mine):

Since January 2010, 34 U.S. citizens have been murdered in El Salvador including a nine-year-old child in December 2013. During the same time period, 419 U.S. citizens reported having their passports stolen, while others were victims of violent crimes

Firstly, this travel “warning” was issued on November 21, 2014, but it combines data from 2010, 2012, 2013, and most of 2014.  So the murder rate per year (for US citizens) would be 34 deaths / 4 years, which is ~9 murders.

More importantly, the murder rate (for US citizens) in MOST US cities is much higher than 9 deaths a year.  For example, there were ~400 murders in Chicago in 2014 alone!

A more accurate warning would be “44 Times More US Citizens Murdered in 1 Year in Chicago Than in 4 Years in El Salvador!”

So how come there are no travel warnings for travelling domestically within the US to Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles as well!

If I had followed the State Department Alert for Lesotho, I would have missed out on some of the best hiking in my life!

Daraius Diary Dont Wish Me Safe Travels
If I Had Let a US State Department “Alert” Stop Me, I Would Have Never Experienced Amazing Hiking in Lesotho!

And much of what is reported in the media are the exceptions specifically designed to frighten.

That’s because a headline of “Millions of Travelers Enjoy Their Mexican Holiday” is not as exciting for readers as “Drunk Tourist Robbed of Wallet While Buying Cocaine in Cabo.” 

Don’t let fear tamp down the excitement of travel.  Instead of having “safe travels” have “smart and daring travels!”

Bottom Line

Most folks who wish me “safe travels” care for my safety and stability.  And some are biologically programed to do that (yes, you, mom and dad!)

But if you care about my happiness, don’t wish me “safe travels.”

Wish me lots of excitement, adventure, joy, love, and connection when I travel!

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I long ago rejected the use of "safe travels" for reasons similar to those you outlined. I now use “Travel well” as encouragement for those embarking on a trip.

OK Daraius, on your next trip, "have the time of your life!"

Some of my most memorable trips are those where I purposely went to areas I was warned to avoid. One memorable place was a seedy bar full of drug dealers and prostitutes in Zanzibar. Locals were so excited to see foreigners that they bought us free drinks! Another was a bar in Harare, Zimbabwe where unemployed rebel soldiers were known to hang out and possibly terrorize people. Again, everyone was so excited to see foreigners that we were treated like celebrities.

I'm sorry, I will always continue to wish you safe travels. My neighbor was abducted in Columbia by rebels and held for months. All he was looking for was excitement, adventure, joy, love, and connection. He wasn't buying drugs or doing anything wrong. While odds are odds, when it happens to you, odds mean nothing and won't help you. Safe travels to you my friend.

Statistically speaking though, there's ~3 Million Americans in Chicago versus how many Americans in El Salvador. I'm not saying Chicago is safe or El Salvador is dangerous, I'm sure they both vary neighborhood by neighborhood and time of day, activity, person ... But certainly saying that El Salvador is safer because only 40 of the tourists/aid workers/whatever Americans were doing in El Salvador of the X number of people, died in 4 years isn't a useful comparison.

Statistics are fun. If we remove gang v gang violence from our Chicago Numbers I wonder what those look like. I'd also guess the numbers for El Salvador are skewed by having few tourists.

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