The impact of terrorism on international travel is felt in obvious ways, such as increased security at airports and cruise ports, and in more subtle ways, such as the reluctance of travelers to fly overseas or to go to certain destinations. The events of 9/11, the London subway bombing, and the Madrid train station bombing have left their mark on the psyches of the traveling public.
Making Sense of Airport Security
One of the most visible results of the terrorist incidents of the last decade is heightened security at airports throughout the world. In the United States, this means arriving up to two hours prior to your flight, passing through a thorough security screening, and following TSA guidelines on prohibited items and packing instructions. We all realize the importance of these screening, but admittedly they can sometimes be stressful. To make the best of these procedures:
- Avoid metal jewelry or accessories - Leave that big belt buckle or belly button ring in your suitcase and avoid setting off the metal detector at airport security.
- Make sure to tag your luggage - Current security procedures match luggage with airline passenger lists. Make sure that your luggage isn't left behind by tagging each piece. Also include a tag on the inside of each piece to identify it in case the outside tag is torn off or removed.
- Leave your luggage unlocked - Airport security randomly search passenger luggage and they need to be able to access it. For this purpose, make sure to leave your luggage unlocked.
- Take off your shoes and coat before you get to the security check-point - Make your trip through security easier by being ready, when you coat and shoes off and ready to send through the scanner.
- Arrive early - Most importantly, arrive early - at least two hours early - for your flight. Nothing adds stress to your journey more than seeing a huge line at the security checkpoint when you are running late for your flight.
Tips for Staying Save Overseas
The seemingly randomness of terrorist acts makes them especially frightening. You never know when or where such an act may occur. However, to reduce the odds of your being in harm's way, consider the following:
- Don't be conspicuous - Americans, particularly, sometimes have a tendency to announce their nationality to the world, with loud voices, patriotic tee-shirts, and other insignia.
- Avoid large crowds and rush-hour pubic transit - Sad, but true: a large congregation of tourists makes a good target for terrorists. So, too, do the large number of residents navigating the subways, bus stations, and train depots at rush hour. Avoid these where possible.
- Register your trip with the US State Department - Millions of Americans travel safely each year overseas, but the United States government assists over 200,000 Americans abroad each year who have been the victims of crime, natural disaster, illness, or whose family needs to contact them in an emergency. Register online so that the government knows where to find you.
Impact of Terrorism on International Travel
The short term impact of terrorism on international travel was for travelers to remain at home and to favor shorter, driving vacations to overseas travel. European travel - especially the cruise sector -- experienced one of its worst years in 2002. Gradually, the number of overseas travelers has increased, as the American public's curiosity for new and different destinations has overcome its fear of travel.
The long-term impact is more difficult to gauge. Although travelers are returning to travel, a certain innocence has been lost, likely never to return. Has that resulted in more educated, culturally aware, and politically astute American travelers? Only time will tell.