What to do in the face of yet another terrorist attack on innocent travelers, the most recent near the Blue Mosque in Istanbul? Pack your suitcase. The news made me sad not only for the victims and their families, but for travelers and people who earn a living catering to tourists. Despite recent violence in two great cities — Paris and Istanbul — now is not the time to retire your passport.
But you should log onto the State Department website for travelers to learn about your destination. One of the lead items on the homepage is notice of a worldwide travel alert. The word “alert” is in red and capitalized. Not that we really needed the typographical emphasis. Anyone who follows the news knows that terrorists are lurking, even in San Bernardino, Calif.
The alert joined a worldwide travel warning. Particular events, such as the terrorist attacks in Paris, provoke travel alerts. These are not fun reads. “Current information suggests that ISIL (aka Da’esh), al-Qa’ida, Boko Haram, and other terrorist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks in multiple regions,” says the alert, effective through Feb. 24. The warning notes kidnappings and murder.
Here’s the truth of the matter. The State Department is in the business of keeping U.S. citizens safe. The warning is a part of its work because “the likelihood of terror attacks will continue.” But no one knows where one will occur.
I recently saw two security guards standing over an abandoned package in Minneapolis’ skyway system talking into walkie-talkies and looking concerned. It suggested to me that if the risk of terrorism is everywhere — including my office building — then we may as well explore our beautiful world and get to know its various, good-hearted people.
Send your questions or tips to travel editor Kerri Westenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow her on Twitter: @kerriwestenberg.