We live in an age where we pretty much expect to be able to go anywhere we want so long as we can afford it. Gone are the days when certain countries are off limits or the very notion of leaving your home was a foolhardy and one-way-trip endeavour, because as masters of technology and tolerant of the beliefs of others, the world is open for business when it comes to our desire to see it.
Until you turn on the news.
On any given night you can see riots in some country, financial instability, suicide bombings in another, disease outbreaks in a few more and religious fanaticism peppered here and there. It’s enough to make you think the world is either getting unsafer by the day or that the media is really focusing on the old adage ‘if it bleeds, it leads’. Suddenly your plans to travel to one of those countries are up in the air and you’re not feeling so confident about your good time.
The simple truth is the world is a dangerous place. Bad things can happen when you least expect it when you’re away from home, and they can happen almost anywhere. There are places that conventional wisdom would tell you to stay away from, such as many central African nations, certain Middle Eastern countries and even certain parts of Europe and Mexico. From drug wars to areas that just aren’t warm to strangers, there are a whole host of threats that caution travellers from making their way here and thwart the naive assumption that the world belongs to all people.
With this in mind, the world is also a fantastic place with great people in every corner of every country on Earth. You will be shown hospitality like you never thought was possible in the unlikeliest of places, from Somalia to North Korea if you do make your way there. There are a lot of people who will never find this out because they choose not to travel there, just the same as there are a lot of people who do what they feel like and disregard any government warning that says otherwise.
Is the world a different place than it was 500 years ago? Absolutely – attitudes and policies have changed a great deal; technology has made us more aware of each other and taken down many of the artificial barriers that have kept us apart. It’s also put up many new ones and allowed for propaganda and intolerance to spread with new ferocity, fostering a whole host of different issues. You’re far more likely to be able to travel to certain places in the world with the same ease and comfort that you would within your own nation, but that doesn’t mean it’s 100% safe.
Getting back to the original question in the title – was it ever safe to travel? It really depends on what you view as safe. There still exist many dangers like disease, violence and intolerance that can be a real threat if you confront it while abroad, but today is definitely the safest it’s ever been to head out on an adventure. The rules, agencies and changes in thought that exist today to ensure the safe passage of travellers is unparalleled from any other time in history. Feel good about that, because if you’re looking to be guaranteed of your safety, that simply does not exist anywhere – even at home.