Is it really safe?

I know… I know… we’ve just been in one of the greatest pandemics the world has ever seen. Not only was it not safe to travel, but it was also impossible as they grounded flights, countries were closed and companies went out of business.

So, to answer your question, no, it has not been safe, nor possible to even travel. Now, countries are opening up, airlines are filling up and hotels are seeing near capacity again.

So, let me ask you this question… will you be safe to stay home? They filled the news with break-ins, abductions, drive-by shootings, and guns in churches. Schools and malls. Can you answer that? Walls have not prevented the virus from entering homes and businesses.

House explosions… faulty electric wiring… flooding… wind damage… there is no end, so the question remains, are you safe at home?

Of course, there are hundreds of road accidents every day. Airplane crashes, while much fewer, carry more passengers. Trains derail, busses crash, cars wreck,… the beat goes on.

Look at the odds:

The chances of dying in an airplane crash are 1 in 1 million. The chances of dying in a car crash, are 1 in 5,000.

How about this–the chance of being struck by lightning, is 1 in 115,000! Here’s one–the chance of being bitten by a shark? Nearly 1 in 4 million! Get the message?

Where do you feel safe? Sitting in your living room? Have you not seen the media reports of random shootings where someone has been shot in their living room?

Did you miss the number of times when a vehicle rammed into a home and killed someone? What about a tree falling on the house and killing the occupants?

Unusual? Not at all. It happens all the time. So, do we barricade ourselves in our homes, replace our windows and doors with bulletproof glass, and pay for elaborate alarm systems? What is the answer?

For over 50 years I have traveled the world, flown all kinds of airlines, ridden in every form of transportation you can imagine, and at age 84, still alive, never been hijacked, or shot. A walking miracle?

Don’t think so. It’s called risk management, which we will deal with in a different section.

Okay, let’s get real for a moment. Do you want to live your life in fear, afraid to get in a car, fly in an airplane, afraid to go to the mall or church… is that how you want to live your life? Of course not, so let’s look at the real world.

As I mentioned, I have been to over 41% of the world. I have lived in some of the most dangerous situations (according to the media) in the world. I have traveled the jungles of Africa, visited some hot spots in the Middle East, and survived for over 84 years.

Do I look over my shoulder every time I walk? Do I stop and look around the corner before proceeding? Do I always cross the street at crosswalks? Have I ever run a yellow light while driving?

This is called “risk management,” so let’s deal with it here.

This is a term that is usually associated with finances; however, we can easily apply it here. Just what is risk management in travel?

  1. Be aware of your surroundings. Know where and what everything is.
  2. Stay alert to changing circumstances and to others around you.
  3. Avoid enormous crowds and NEVER get involved in any kind of demonstration.
  4. Never go into a known area of drugs or high crime.
  5. Don’t travel on transportation, that is unsafe.
  6. Carrying large amounts of cash is only asking for trouble.
  7. Always travel with a companion… never travel alone, where possible.
  8. When there are travel warnings about an area or country, avoid them.

While this is just a partial list, it should set you to thinking about your safety while traveling.

Let’s look at some specific areas of the world to assess the risks.

The Holy Land, or the Middle East.

Dome of the Rock Jerusalem
Dome of the Rock Jerusalem

Travel warnings:

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html/. This is the place to find out travel warnings for Americans for areas of the world.

There are four levels of travel warnings:

  1. Exercise normal precautions.
  2. Exercise increased precautions.
  3. Reconsider travel.
  4. Do not travel.

Sounds reasonable enough. As an example, one warning about traveling to Israel is “Do not travel to Gaza.” Unless you have been in a cave for the last 40 years, this is not rocket science!

The “West Bank” of Israel is under the “Reconsider travel” warning. Think about going to those areas. If you do go there, be aware of the risks and use extra caution.

Is the rest of the country of Israel safe to travel to? Without hesitation, I will say YES. I would not hesitate to travel to any other area of Israel and would feel as safe there as any place on the planet. Security in Israel is a way of life.

I must point out to you I arrange group and individual travel to Israel and most other parts of the world.

I represent one of the oldest, most respected tour companies in the world. Let me give you a link to the information we provide our travelers. General Healthy Travel Standards — Educational Opportunities Blog (eoupdate.com)

There is a tremendous difference between group travel and individual travel. In individual travel, you’re on your own to be safe.

In group travel, you have the travel company whose concern for your safety is both monetary and real. No company wants to be sued for neglect of injury or death. Neither do they want the poor reputation of having a passenger injured or killed on their watch?

The local guide has a twofold mission:

  1. Their safety is a major concern.
  2. They handle their passenger’s safety.

Everyone is concerned that the tourists be safe and have an enjoyable experience. If you are fearful during your trip, it would be better to stay at home.

I remember in my days as a pilot, I used to have passengers tell me, “be careful and don’t hurt me”. Did they forget I was on board the plane too?

Tourists’ safety is one of the most important things that we as an organization take into consideration. We have over 40 years of experience and have thousands of passengers who have trusted us to keep them safe and have an enjoyable experience.

For those reasons, we take every precaution to make certain the safety and enjoyment of your pilgrimage or tour.

Last instructions:

  1. Check the government travel warnings.
  2. Know the tour company that you are traveling with.
  3. Be sure you know the leader of the group and their own experience in travel.
  4. Keep a mindful presence of your surroundings.

Be safe and enjoy your travel experience and don’t hide under a rock!

Joe T. White ThD
Joe T. White ThD

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