Is Traveling Dangerous?

Summary: Is traveling dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing? The answer to that question will vary wildly, in no small part because “traveling” is a very broad term. What exactly do you mean by “traveling?” And where are you traveling to? All things being equal, however, traveling is only about as dangerous as daily life–and the benefits to that travel are incredible.

Is Traveling Dangerous in Modern Times?

Making sure your family vacation is a safe one can be a challenging task, in part because there’s no such thing as 100% safe. That’s as true at home as it is when you’re traveling. And yet, there’s this persistent question: is traveling dangerous?

There are two answers to this question. The first one is that generally no, traveling is not dangerous. The second answer is that, to a certain extent it depends on where you go and what you do. There are certain areas of the world, after all, that are very dangerous (some more so than others depending on who you are).

But is travel in general dangerous? Well, not really, but there are some things you can do to ensure that your wanderings, both domestic and international, are as safe as possible. But there are also some realities you should accept–the main reality being that, in general, traveling is pretty safe.

Mode of Transportation

Many people who harbor fears of traveling are also afraid to fly. Statistically, however, there is no safer way to travel–whether over short distances or long distances–than flying. Indeed, major U.S. carriers have only counted something like one fatality over the past five years. Given how many people fly every day, that’s a remarkable record.

The dangerous parts of your travel will probably be those that feel the safest. It’s not the flight that’s going to raise the stakes, it’s the drive. If you’re driving in an unfamiliar area, your risk of an accident increase. To improve your safety, consider taking a cab or hiring a driver. These days, that’s easier than ever in most places of the world.

There are other benefits to not driving yourself:

  • You get a much better view of the area you’re visiting if you’re a passenger instead of a driver
  • Passengers don’t have to deal with the hassle of finding a parking spot
  • Generally speaking, passengers also don’t have to worry about insurance
  • Taking a car or a cab allows you to interact with locals, which is part of the point of traveling in the first place

What is the Purpose of Your Visit?

Violent crime does happen to those who travel, but it’s exceptionally rare. Even still, if violent crime is something you’re worried about, there are some things you can do to decrease the chances of it happening even further. For example, you can travel in groups, always make sure someone knows where you are, and have a good working knowledge of emergency procedures in your area.

But it’s worth pointing out that the risk of something bad happening is far outweighed by the value inherent in traveling. Indeed, traveling–whether out of the state or out of the country–has been shown to produce the following benefits:

  • Increase in empathy
  • Traveling has been shown to open your mind in significant ways
  • Generally speaking, traveling can give you some new perspective on other people and places
  • The more you travel, the less likely you are to succumb to ethnocentrism or xenophobia
  • Traveling can help combat stereotypes and shallow understandings

That said, travel can be expensive. So it’s difficult for everyone to experience these benefits–and that’s something that those who talk about travel quite constantly need to understand. There are many reasons that people travel–but the fact that it opens up your mind to new experiences and new possibilities cannot be understated.

Is Travel Right For You?

There are some people who simply don’t like to travel. But I’ve found that has more to do with the individual than with whether traveling might or might not be dangerous. When people talk about the dangers of traveling, they’re usually talking about violent crime or theft or maybe getting lost in the woods–something like that.

But I’m not sure those dangers increase or decrease due to traveling. After all, there’s always the slim chance that you’ll be the victim of violent crime or fraud at home–but we consider that risk manageable because we’re in familiar surroundings. We’re used to it. (I guess that’s why we have lawyers.)

All of which is a long way of saying this: is traveling dangerous? Well, we can’t say absolutely not. But we can say that, generally speaking, traveling is no more dangerous than your daily life. And the benefits to traveling are so rewarding as to ensure that traveling is, basically, almost always worth it.

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