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Travel In An Uncertain World: Tempering Our Fear With Knowedge

Don Wilson
Port of Seattle
"Travel creates a deeper understanding," says KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley. He says it's important to temper your fear with knowledge about where you're going.

The world can feel dangerous these days.

The recent terror attack in Nice, France, and the attempted military coup in Turkey are just two recent examples. But KPLU travel expert Matthew Brumley says it’s important to temper our fear with knowledge.

“I probably wouldn’t go to Turkey at this moment,” he said. “I’m going to let that settle down. But I would certainly go to France; I would certainly go to Western Europe, South America, most of Africa.”

That doesn’t mean you go headlong into a potentially dangerous or unstable place, Brumley says. But it does mean you should arm yourself with knowledge before you decide not to take a trip, or you cancel expensive plane tickets.

“Now is not the time for us to be separating ourselves out from our fellow human beings,” he said. “Now is the time to converse, and enjoy each other’s company, and learn more about each other. Travel creates a deeper understanding.”

So, how do we channel fear into knowledge?

Know Where You’re Going

It begins with geography, Brumley says. Look at a map.

“For instance, the Zika virus originates in the tropics of Central and South America,” he said. “But we’ve had calls, and I’ve heard people say ‘Well, I don’t want to go to Patagonia,’ not understanding that Patagonia is, in essence, the same as going to Alaska, just with the world upside down.”

Brumley says travelers had similar fears during the Ebola outbreak in Western Africa. They were hesitant to travel to South Africa, more than 3,000 miles away.

Do Some Research

The State Department’s website can show you whether there are any travel alerts in place for your destination. The warnings are issued for any number of reasons, including warfare, political unrest, or even crime.

And ask your travel insurance provider if terrorism or sudden unrest is covered.

Call The Embassy

The U.S. Embassy in the place you’re visiting can give you information on the current climate where you’re planning to visit, and help you figure out whether you want to take the trip.

“Speak to somebody directly,” Brumley said. “I find that really helpful.”


“Going Places” is KPLU’s weekly exploration of travel topics. Matthew Brumley is the co-founder of Earthbound Expeditions, on Bainbridge Island, which provides small-group travel to clients including KPLU.

Ed Ronco is a former KNKX producer and reporter and hosted All Things Considered for seven years.