Why all the questions on safety?

Old Apr 2nd, 2001, 05:43 PM
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Why all the questions on safety?

I've been reading this forum for a couple of months now, and love it. But I do have one question that really bugs me. I don't want to open a can of worms but somebody please enlighten me. I now live in the USA (American by birth and choice), but have lived for over 16 years in various places in Europe and Asia (courtesy of the US government--I was very lucky). I never felt less safe in any of those places than I do in almost any large city in the USA. Certainly, the statistics show that the US is one of the most violent-crime-ridden countries in the world (not counting those that go in for genocide). But I frequently see questions (usually from Americans) asking if it is safe to go to various countries. For instance, when I lived in Italy, I heard of almost NO violent crime in the 3+ years I was there. But here, almost every newspaper has a story about a murder. Why are people (i.e., especially Americans) so concerned about their safety? I don't like to feel dumb about any topic, but I certainly do about this one.
Old Apr 2nd, 2001, 05:47 PM
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I think it is simple fear of the unknown - - not only being unaware of what the probabilities are, but also (perhaps much more) - - fear of vulnerability, fear of inability to cope with injury, personal (property) loss or even inconvenience in a place where customs and language barriers limit one's natural ability to adapt.

I don't really relate to these fears, but I understand them.
Old Apr 2nd, 2001, 05:49 PM
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For serveral reasons, but most simply:

Not all of us have your experience and the new can be scary.
Tourists ARE targeted in many places.

Please remember that not everyone who posts on this board is as fortunate or as experienced as you.
Old Apr 2nd, 2001, 05:55 PM
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To S. Fowler: I understand that, but even when I was new to my overseas experiences, I never felt un-safe, just privileged, and excited to be there. Rex, yes, fear of the unknown could be the answer, but to have that fear be so great you question the feasibility of going--like you, I can't relate. After all, if it really wasn't safe, would millions of people spend their hard-earned vacation dollars going there? Anyway, thanks for the education.
Old Apr 2nd, 2001, 06:03 PM
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Guess what. We're not all this same.
Old Apr 2nd, 2001, 06:10 PM
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That's obvious. I, personally, would not continue to slam after the person had just extended her appreciation. But thanks anyway.
Old Apr 2nd, 2001, 06:17 PM
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Of course. You are right. My apologies.
However your initial post showed little understanding of our differences. It *bugs* you that some people don't have your "sang froid", yet you say my response is a "slam"? Each person's fears and experiences are unique. I don't think you showed any more sensitivity to that fact that you claim I showed to you.
Old Apr 2nd, 2001, 06:25 PM
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I'll shut up. As I said, I don't want to open a can of worms--just want to learn more about what's going on in our world.
Old Apr 2nd, 2001, 06:32 PM
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I'm fairly adventuresome and really don't scare too easily...

If, however, I hear a location is "questionable" due to some sort of recent terrorism/health/political upheaval...etc, etc... I would certainly check with the State Dept. for basic advisories

(http://travel.state.gov/travel_warnings.html) ... see what the deal is.

I would make an educated decision based upon the extent of the problem and my own comfort level.
Old Apr 2nd, 2001, 06:36 PM
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Any time Americans who aren't exprienced travelers venture beyond their borders,their safety antennae go up. Thet that their own country is, to me, one of the scariest in the world as far as random violence, killings by kids, drive-by shootings, etc. People get outside their comfort zone and they freak. All the statistics in the world won't counter one e-mail they read about "gypsies in Rome." People ask me all the time "Aren't you scared to be alone at your house in France?" because I am there alone at least a couple of weeks a year. Know what? I'm in a remote, rural area and I feel SO much safer than I do in my home outside Washington, DC, I can't tell you. Still, I can't blame Americans for their fears. People are intimidated by travel, and the incidents they focus on are the pickpockets on the Paris metro or the gypsies in the Piazza San Marco.A lot of American travelers are simply naive. If they witness or are the victim of a petty crime in Europe, they generalize about the culture. Fact is, as you well know, America is far less safe a place than Europe. But don't tell that to the first-time-to-Madrid family that gets their car broken into.
And what, by the way, is the deal with the Writeover function? When I tried to edit this post, I couldn't do so without writing over the whole thing - and I'm not in Writeover in MS Word, either.

Old Apr 3rd, 2001, 12:00 AM
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I have lived in Chicago and New york and have travelled alot,so I do consider myself a savvy traveller. The violence that I have witnessed for the past 2 summers in Europe is of the kind we are not used to,not really the appropriate term but onward! It is, as of late, the in your face/bold//obnoxious/constant/scary/ petty /annoying/incidents that maybe we don't see in USA-we just go straight for the horrific gun/murder/rape kind.My European friends are horrified and of course even try to imply that we Americans are partially responsible for the growth of this violence.The wild west mentality.
Last summer I witnessed a Spanish lady knocked down and the crowd did nothing to stop the assailant who grabbed her bag nor to help the women knocked to the groung.
On another thread I mentioned I spent a day at the Madrid American Embassy because someone in my group "lost" her passport. To this day this person cannot accept the fact that it was lifted in the Prado museum The stories we heard were horrific, an entire family being mugged by 4 youths with knives,a young girl entering a hotel thrown to the ground,held down by one while the other pulled off her money belt and broke her jaw,a student who thought he was helping with directions but instead was robbed of his wallet as he reached for his map,a couple who sitting in a cafe after making the pilgimage to Santiago totally wiped out,because they were being kind to a little girl,the flat tire scam.........all these events occurred over one weekend.The stories got even worse when these persons after filling out forms for passports then had to come up with the money to pay for them.I know all these people were not all easy targets.The Embassy lady told us it is getting worse every year
When I came home I tried to put it into some sort of perspective.Is this what the world is coming to ? Is this happening to Europe because they want to become stronger and so they united.It is now so much easier for anyone to travel between all these countries-no borders,,no controls.Is this what freedom to travel in Europe is about?One of their biggest problems is the flow of illegal immigrants.Join the club,Europe.USA has been criticised by many but now Europe isfaced with the same problems.
Final word,just saddens me that my children will never experience the Europe I did-anyone rememeber Europe on $5 a day?...........

Old Apr 3rd, 2001, 04:57 AM
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Europe on $5 a day? I remember very well the very first airplane ticket I bought "out of my own money". I was 16 years old (1970). I had a job that paid $1.85 an hour. I went to California to see someone I met the summer before on my first trip to Europe. I had a job after high school working three times a week (3-11 shift) and it only took me 2 and half weeks to earn the money for that ticket. I suspect that the "withholding" (for taxes) - - if there was any - - took about 15 cents an hour out of my paycheck.

That ticket cost a little over $200. You can still get tickets from the midwest to California for that. In fact our oldest daughter got one from Rochester NY to Los Angeles for $119 roundtrip this past January.

And I got business class seats all the way to Rome yesterday for $899. It doesn't take me two and half weeks to do that nowadays.

Ah, nostalgia - - sometimes it just ain't as good as it used to be!
Old Apr 3rd, 2001, 05:31 AM
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I agree that it is a fear of the unknown, but works the other way, too. My company, located in a small city in the North East US, often hosts visitors from other countries. Very often it's their first trip outside their own country and they are afraid to walk around in my neighborhoods. Two that stand out are:
1) a recent visitor from Finland called his friends back in Finland during a day trip to NYC to let everyone know that he hadn't been shot yet, and that he was surprised that all Americans were not brandishing weapons. Yes, this guy had a dry sense of humor, but there was some real aprehension on his part about how "dangerous" the US was. 2) Visitors from Thailand were afraid to cross a busy street to get to a restaurant across from their hotel. This was a 40 MPH street in a strip mall type area, with lights and crosswalks, but they ate at the greasy spoon a half a mile down their side of the street every day. They were convinced that they would be plowed down in the middle of the street--a good American style hit and run. The ironic thing is that towards the end of the week one of the guys got in a fist fight in the diner...not sure what that says for safety or foreign relations.

On another note, check out some of the posts of the US board (made mostly by other US residents)--Is Atlanta...LA....NY...etc safe? Is it safe for a woman to travel alone? I hope the last answer is yes; I'd hate to think I can't go to the grocery store or drive an hour to see my parents unaccompanied anymore.
Old Apr 3rd, 2001, 05:40 AM
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I suspect it has something to do with expectations and reality. On vacation, we often entertain notions that nothing 'bad' will happen....we relate any unfortunate incident to the context of only the 14 days we were away. Yet when something 'bad' happens to us at home, we have a much broader context in which to understand the event.

Neither the cavalier 'everything's going to be fine' nor the paranoid approach is appropriate. Personally, the Spanish government needs a wakeup call; tourists will tolerate thievery up to a point, but they will not tolerate violence (nor should anyone.)
Old Apr 3rd, 2001, 06:02 AM
Beth Anderson
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business class to Rome for 899? what? where?

any opinions on Dulles/Nice, Zurich/Dulles for 1200 BUCKS in Late June/mid July? is that a little outrageous or what?
Old Mar 28th, 2002, 10:02 AM
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TTT for Dave
Old Mar 28th, 2002, 10:29 AM
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Many Americans are very defensive / attached about their property - IOW, very materialistic - I think even more so than their lives. A lot of Amaericans equate their value in clothings, cars, big houses, etc. instead of their talents or personality.
Old Mar 28th, 2002, 03:09 PM
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IMHO, many people who want assurances on
this forum are first -time travellers of
a 'certain age'. As someone in that age
group, I now understand how timorous we
become with age; also, we're so used to
all our creature comforts - depend on
them - and the thought that we may be
forced to do without some of the so-
called necessities of life or that we
will have to adapt new attitudes to
old habits is frightening.

Also, many late-blooming travellers
seem to think Europe is on the Far Side
of the Moon and they are embarking on
a fearsome expedition with an uncertain
ending! So they need those of us to
keep reinforcing the simple fact that
Europe All Grown-Up and, although not
quite the same is 'home', just as
comfy and oh so fascinating.

I believe in an Ideal World everyone
would travel to a far-flung country
before the age of 20....it would make
'such' a positive difference in our
world view!
Old Mar 28th, 2002, 03:58 PM
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St. Cirq, I am suprised at your soap box narrative, you usually seem levelheaded. Quit blaming Americans for everything, my gosh. Our country borders on the one hand Canada, which is almost the same as US, and then Mexico, which you can imagine is alot different law-wise. You can bet that more people would visit Canada than endure the risks of Mexico. Why go to a place where you are on edge? These are our nearest examples of "foreign countries".
Old Mar 28th, 2002, 05:59 PM
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Hi all. If anyone is looking for a great book on personal safety, WHEREEVER you are, pick up The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker. He created the MOSAIC profiling program for the FBI (criminal profiling, not racial) and gives a great discussion about paying attention when the hair on the back of your neck stands up, etc. Especially helpful for women who may be hesitant to tell someone to back off for fear of seeming rude. He wrote another book called Protecting the Gift, about keeping your kids safe without making yourself crazy.

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