Can You Travel Risk Free?

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With the tragic news of the shooting down of MH17 this week, which follows the earlier mysterious loss of MH370 in March 2014, travellers could be taking a second look at their safety when thinking about travelling.

Travel Safely

What Level of Risk is OK?

In every aspect of life and travel there is risk.  We all mostly try to take calculated risks and avoid obviously dangerous activities.  Unfortunately incidents happen across all domains every year both at home and when travelling, whether they are natural disasters, wars, disease or incidents on a more individual scale such as car accidents, muggings, other crimes and personal injuries.

Our personal risk profiles also change throughout our lives.  For example, as a parent I am currently more risk adverse than I was during my solo years.

Should we decide not to travel to supposedly reduce our risk of being exposed to these potential disasters?

Every person will make a difference decision so I am sharing my story of decisions we made for our trip to Christchurch in October 2010 for your consideration.  I am also sharing Carmen Allan-Petale’s thinking about whether people should fly with Malaysian Airlines, which also includes her experience of visiting Bali between the first and second terrorist attacks.

Did We Make a Good Decision to Visit Christchurch in October 2010?

We have also been in a position where we had to make a travel safety related decision when we had booked a trip to New Zealand in September almost four years ago.  On 4 September 2010, only one month before we were due to depart, the first Christchurch earthquake occurred.  Following consideration of our options we decided to proceed with the trip.

I changed our Christchurch accommodation booking from being in the centre of town to an airport hotel, and while I did have my scary first ever smaller scale earthquake experience in that hotel I felt safe, as a result of the research I had conducted prior to our visit.  We did spend a day visiting Christchurch and had a lovely time.

On 22 February 2011 the second Christchurch earthquake occurred and 185 people died, many in some of the same places we had visited.  On a personal level I felt like we had had a ‘near miss’.  We had taken our three young children and my parents to those same places and it could just as easily have been us who died or were badly injured.

I questioned whether we had made a good decision to visit inner city Christchurch at all on that trip and unfortunately there are no clear answers.  We reduced our risk by shifting our accommodation bookings away from the city centre and only spending a few hours visiting the inner city of Christchurch, but the next large earthquake could have occurred at any time.  We visited and we were just lucky on the day.

Why the Tragedy of Flight MH17 Isn’t Going to Stop Me From Flying with Malaysia Airlines

Australian travel blogger Carmen Allan-Petale from the Double Barrelled Travel blog shares her reaction after the tragic events this week.  Carmen also shares her experience of visiting Bali between the first and second terrorist attacks,

The past few days we’ve been waking up to bad news, again and again.  On Thursday we found out Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpar had been shot down over Ukraine.  My immediate worry was for my friends living in Amsterdam – I really hoped they hadn’t been flying back to Australia, as this is a common route for us Aussies.

I learned 28 Aussies were on board and messaged my Dutch friend to offer my condolences – 154 people from the Netherlands were on board too.  On Friday we woke up to learn that a former university lecturer from my uni was on board with his three grandchildren. Immediately my heart went out to the children’s parents and the lecturer’s wife. Awful, awful news.

My favourite quote from the article is:

“The statistics show that there’s an 11 million to one chance that you’ll die in an aeroplane crash, versus one in 17,500 of dying in a car crash.”

Read more about Carmen’s story and her inner resolve to continue flying with Malaysian Airlines…

So What Risk Should You Take?

The question of what risk should you take is different for every person.  I think there are some obvious ways to make a calculated decision on which risks to avoid.

  • If you plan to travel then before you book ensure you read your government travel advisories so that you understand how those countries have currently been assessed.  If a country has been assessed as ‘do not travel’ by your government then if you decide to travel there then you should be aware of the risks you are taking.
  • Make sure you also register your travel plans before you depart, so your government knows where you are supposed to be and can at least know to look for you if something happens.
  • You have a certain level of trust in your travel service providers.  Before you book ensure you read reviews of their services and think about risk before committing to that service provider.
  • When you travel stay aware of the news so you don’t walk into an emerging dangerous situation.  We all like to ‘turn off’ while we travel, but it is important to at least maintain some level of situational awareness so we can make informed decisions.
  • Look out for your personal safety, just like you would at home.  Be careful about drinking too much and walking in unsafe areas.
  • Take out travel insurance so that if things do go wrong you have adequate medical and other support.

Also be aware that the risk of travelling may not be any higher than the risk of staying at home.  So don’t let fear stop you from travelling.

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How have you reacted to the news about the loss of MH17?  Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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2 thoughts on “Can You Travel Risk Free?”

  1. Interesting stats about airplane crash and car crash. Oh well I think we just focus on the good and try to enjoy life as much as we can.

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