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