Travelers' Forum - To Go or Not To Go?
Terrorism is the mortal enemy of travel. Statistically, the chances of being a direct victim are virtually zero. Unfortunately, news of a terrorist attack suddenly makes any place away from home feel dangerous. Where we are strangers, we feel strangely vulnerable. And if we don't, our non-traveling loved ones remind us of our recklessness.
Have the events of September 11 put your travel dreams on hold? How are you dealing with your own fears, and the concerns of your loved ones?
To go or not to go
I am planning a trip to France, leaving next Wednesday and returning on the 31st. I have lived in France in the past, and love it dearly. NO fears. By the way, the person who said: "If you really must go, just avoid the Axis-of-Weasel countries at least on general principle. " is doing nothing but encouraging this divide between the U.S. and, frankly, the rest of the world. Not much of an ambassador. I'll do my best to help fix that.
Cincinnati, OH USA 03/14/03
I don't have any answers about how to make your wife less fearful, but really, if she is waking up in the middle of the night worried about this trip, I am afraid that she might be in such a state that she will not enjoy the trip at all. Go somewhere else this year and save Europe for next year.
That being said, I am planning to go and take my 11 year old son, leaving my husband at home with the 9 and 5 year olds. Knowing that he is home with the other kids gives me more peace of mind. I would be more nervous if the two of us were going off and leaving the kids with grandparents. I already told him that in that case, we would have to take separate planes. Well, maybe not really, but that's how I have always felt. I am just a little bit of a nervous flyer since I have kids.
He and I drove to Michigan for a week's vacation away from the kids right after 9/11 (planes weren't even flying yet) but we had already planned to drive and take our mountain bikes. I didn't want to go but my husband kind of made me. We had a wonderful time! It was actually the best thing in the world for me to get away from the news.
But, I wasn't waking up at night worried about the trip. If it's that
bad, I'm sure you can think of somewhere else where you both can have
a great time.
GA USA 03/13/03
Go? Don't Go? Must decide by Friday
I have been planning this anniversary trip to Paris/Nice for months! My wife cried when I gave her the tickets for this trip to France (March 17th-March 30th) on Christmas Day. She has always wanted to go to France since she was five. Lately, she has had a "bad feeling of impending doom" about this trip. She is waking up in the middle of the night, scared of anti-American sentiment, and an overall bad experience. I love here dearly! I want this to be a "once in a lifetime" trip!
We made a list of what would prohibit our trip from happening. The top of the list was the onset of full war with Iraq. We have decided that we will wait until Friday to decide whether or not to go. Our primary concern is that the US will "manufacture" a reason to bomb Iraq and that the rest of the world will become Anti-American and view the American people as "War-Mongering, Anti-Social" persons to be confronted.
The second consideration is if Osama Bin Laden is captured. We believe this will cause an another Code Orange and travel advisories for all Americans over the entire globe.
We are seasoned U.S. travellers, and have spent a great deal of time
in Canada, too. We love to travel. I told her we could go on an alternative
trip to Canada, but she seemed to be bittersweet about that idea. On the
one hand, I can tell she is relieved that I offered a possible alternative
to overseas travel, but on the other hand, she is so upset about her fears!
I just want her to feel safe, happy, elated, and ready. If we have even
an inkling of trouble during our time in France, as I suspect we may,
I am afraid my wife will never want to travel again. (She is a scared
traveller as it is) Any advice is so very appreciated! Thanks.
Seattle, wa USA 03/13/03
Travel in Europe after 911
We, meaning my wife, our friend, and I were in Switzerland during "911". We are returning again this year. You have a greater chance of being killed in your car at home than by a terrorist in Europe. I believe if we hide away we lose.
Dexter, Or USA 03/13/03
To Go or Not To Go? GO!!!
I will be guiding a small group of travelers through London for a week in April. I've been guiding groups of Americans on small-group tours all over Europe for 15 years now, and I am as excited to go this year (three seperate tours, one for four weeks) as I have ever been. All of my friends in Europe assure me that the people there have no issure with Americans -- only with American policy. They welcome travelers and treat them as kindly as ever. Nothing is changing my plans.
Kaysville, UT USA 03/12/03
War and Europe and Vacation
I started planning my trip to France over a year ago, long before the yahoo in the White House decided it was necessary to start a war. I'm going and I have no second thoughts. As the fearmonger below so eloquently stated, anti-Americanism is anti-American policy and mostly anti-Bush. I feel the same. I'm going to have three wonderful weeks in France. I'll tell you all about upon my return.
San Diego, CA USA 03/10/03
War and Travel
I have the concern that all travelers have right now. I travel to Europe in May and am concerned not only with war, but with the attitude towards Americans. Do you think it will be safe?
Columbus, oh USA 03/10/03
Behind the Wall of Fear
I will be flying to Paris in April with my daughter, grand-daughter,my best friend and her daughter. My "adopted" German son grew up in East Germany, behind "The Wall." If I don't travel now, how will my life be different than the one he knew?
salinas, Ca USA 03/09/03
Mediterranean Cruise Safety
I was invited on a 26 day Mediterranean cruise. The itinerary goes to several stops in Italy, France, Spain and to Morocco. Then crosses the Atlantic to the Bahamas. I was first wondering of anyones experience with the safety and acceptance of Americans right now in these areas. I am really excited about this and would also love to hear from anyone who has done anything similar. Thank you.
Louisville, Ky USA 03/08/03
School tour timing
We are taking 10 high school students to Paris this month with a school tour. Seeing how it won't be very easy to "blend in" in a big group of students, we are concerned about our safety. Is it safe to do this now with our country on the brink of war?
CA USA 03/08/03
Postpone that trip to Europe
Anti-Americanism in Europe today is widespread - make no mistake about it. What you will commonly hear is rude comments about Amercan policy and President Bush in particular.
Go if you want to go. I've been living in London for 4 years and have travelled quite a bit in Europe - its fun and interesting. That being said, at this moment I would choose to go elsewhere on a vacation. They don't really like Americans too much here. They like our money alright, but that's about it. You may not meet too many rude people - or you may. If you have to go around pretending you are Canadian (as generations of backpackers have done), then it seems too much bother to me. If you really must go, just avoid the Axis-of-Weasel countries at least on general principle.
Right now the US economy could use all the help it can get, so pull out
that map and figure out someplace at home you have always wanted to see.
Europe will be here next year - and by then the war with Iraq should be
over and all those banned materials with return addresses to Paris, Berlin
and Moscow will have been uncovered. Now that would make your visit to
Europe a lot more plesant - more quiet at least.
London, UK 03/05/03
PARIS TRIP FEBRUARY 2003
My husband, our 4 year old daughter, and I just got back from Paris. It was a fantastic trip. We were there 2 weeks. The Parisians were extremely nice, friendly and helpful (and we don't speak French at all, but we did learn some phrases to be polite). We were obviously Americans, and I thought people were trying to go overboard to be nice to us. (Thank God I hadn't read the USA Today story from 3/4/03). We rode the Metro everywhere, and walked around safely at night. Never had a problem! Go to Paris and have fun. It is an amazing and beautiful place to visit.
WI USA 03/04/03
Rick quoted in USA today-trouble abroad
Good article in USA today and Rick is quoted. Looks like there are tourist problems abroad. http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2003-03-03-anti-american-usat_x.htm
Woodstock, Ga USA 03/04/03
We are concerned about traveling in Eastern Germany (eastern Bavaria, Thuringia and Saxony around Dresden, Weimar, Eisenach, Regensburg, etc.) in regards to anti-Americanism or neo-Nazi groups. I want to trace family roots in the area, but my husband is worried we may experience problems
St. Louis, MO USA 03/03/03
Spain, Portugal & Morocco
My friend and I are planning a trip for this May and were a little hesitant to include Morocco. However, it is not on the State Dept's list of countries to avoid, so we're going. I have heard a few comments that we're crazy for going to Morocco, but people were also worried last year when we went to Italy after Sept 11th and we did not have one problem. It was near perfect, we loved it!
Seattle, WA USA 03/02/03
My husband and i were just in Italy (Feb 4--Feb 13), and we felt safer there than in the US. Security at JFK airport in NY was chaotic, not thorough, and staff were rude. Security on our return trip (at Munich, Germany) was thorough, organized, and their security machinery was more high-tech (we flew on Lufthansa, which I preferred to an American carrier--this gave me more peace of mind than anything else). Read Rick's travel safety article on this site, it can give you a good perspective. In Italy, there were barely any other tourists there (not Americans, anyway!), and we blended in well with the locals. While we were in Venice, we heard about the orange terror alert (on International CNN, which reports the facts WITHOUT the sensationalism/scare tactics that the American media employs), and we really didn't want to come home!
I recommend going to Europe and enjoy the UNcrowded sights; the people
will probably be as nice to you as the Italians were to us. If someone
asks you if you're American (is it really their business?), say you're
Canadian. You can also register with the nearest American embassy when
you get there. Enjoy your trip!
Princeton, NJ USA 02/25/03
Paris this March, 2003
My husband and I are planning a trip to Paris this March. We are looking for feedback from anyone who has visited Paris recently about hostile attitudes toward Americans. We are not worried about our safety, but would prefer to postpone our vacation if excessive rudeness would make our visit unpleasant. Any feedback would be helpful and very much appreciated.
Hopkinton, MA USA 02/24/03
Take the kids and go
Up until the day we left (2/14/03) I was still worrying about our trip to Madrid. I'm so glad my husband and I packed up our three teenagers and went. While it was obvious to everyone in Madrid that we weren't locals,(we speak kindergarden Spanish, my husband is tall and the rest of us are fair), we never had an uneasy moment. Others may disagree, but whenever we return from a trip, I remember that the people we've met are more like us than unlike. We shouldn't let the fear of the unknown deter us.
West Hartford, CT USA 02/24/03
I say go. I just got back from Spain. Don't hide your nationality. Wear your American flag pin. How else are they going to know what we think unless they hear it from us? I didn't have any real problems. Just some arguments. And keep in mind that some Europeans are on our side, especially some of the Brits. God bless the Queen.
ND USA 02/19/03
To go or not to go
My wife and I just bought tickets to go to France this March. While some of my friends think we're crazy to go overseas at the same time that hosilities with Iraq might begin, I think we'd be crazy to let such events dictate our travel plans. Life is way too short to live in fear and not do the things you want to do.
nashville, tn USA 02/19/03
No regrets, no fear!
I want to thank all of you for reiterating what I already know. I am spending 11 days in England in April. This will be my 5th trip abroad and I love it because it is one of the few things that fuel my soul! There is no need or sense in worrying about something you cannot control. As travelers and students of the world, all we can do is be vigilant and careful. Thank you all for the wonderful spirit and reminders of why I travel in the first place. I cannot say I will not be a bit nervous, but I am so excited to be going somewhere I love so much. If god forbid the odds go poorly for me, and something terrible does happen, I will be somewhere I love doing something I live for. That is what life is about.
Aurora, Co USA 02/18/03
Recently in Paris
I took my boys (14 & 11) to Paris at the end of January - beginning of February. We did not have any problems with any anti-Americanism. We spoke to several people when sightseeing, shopping, even while observing a farmer's union demonstration (from a distance, of course!). People seemed even more friendly and helpful this visit than my visit a year ago. We spoke to a wide variety of people about a wide variety of subjects, and never once was there a problem. Rather, every conversation was an interesting exchange of ideas, and a quest for information and understanding, and sometimes a mutual photo viewing! One man from Algeria even went to the extent of explaining to us that there were two kinds of Algerians, Arab and Berber and he was a Berber and loved the world! We had a great conversation. We didn't take any special measures either, and I felt safer and more secure there than in my own town at night.
TX USA 02/18/03
Think, then go
Returned from Paris/London/Netherlands at the end of January. In Paris one day, anti-war demonstrators filled the streets around my hotel in St. Germain, near the Hotel Matignon, where the French prime minister lives. While in London, the British raided the Manchester flat where suspected terrorists were thought to be making a poison (ricin), and an officer was killed in the raid. But nothing happened to any tourist I know of during that time, American or otherwise. And I had a wonderful, if cautious, time. I think if you travel sensitively and wisely, and avoid wearing Americana such big flags across your chest, you will be ok. I spoke high school-ish French in Paris and people appreciated my efforts and were courteous and spoke French back. I ordered food, bought museum and metro tickets, and spoke to people on the train, and it was fine. Only you can decide if the time is good for you to travel, but even as you read this, others are going to Europe and enjoying themselves. You could be one of them. Just read up, use common sense, and stay alert.
Just returned from Paris on the 12th and had no problems at all. I did try
to use the little French I remember from school. Even if all you can say
is bonjour and merci I think the effort is appreciated.
Safe to go to Europe?
I would appreciate comments on the safety of going to Europe this year, 2003, from people who have gone this year. I was there last year and it was fine.
Rapid City, SD USA 02/15/03
My two cents
Do what you want: life is short. If you have a burning desire to go to Europe, go! Be aware of your surroundings and considerate of the people as you would in any new place, whether 20 miles away or 2000 miles away.
Expect to deal with Anti-War, Anti-Bush and Anti-American Foreign Policy. Remember these feelings are not only "foreign" -they exist here also. Opinions are human rights.
Don't pretend you are something you are not: if you are an American, don't pretend you are Canadian. There is nothing to be ashamed of. This country is as good as any and now, more than ever, we need to put our best feet forward and show the world that we are still a majority of friendly and curious people who embrace the cultures of many.
Most important, consider the source. I firmly believe that RUDE people meet RUDE people in ANY situation. I work in the service industry and believe me, I have met Americans who will start a fight over what kind of bag they are given. Many people are unhappy and wasteful and looking for trouble. I call them ugly too. But there is still a lot more beauty in the world.
Dig deep into the culture you are visiting. If you wanted everything to be the same as in America, then why did you spend all that money to go abroad?
Try the language-I have never met a person who did not appreciate it.
And for every time you hear a story of someone who was randomly, verbally attacked on the street abroad-stop and try to think about the infinite amount of times you have encountered some crazy in one of our cities randomly spouting out obscenities at you as they pass. There are crazy people in every country-but on the whole most humans are peaceful and caring.
So live life! Trust your instincts! HAVE A BLAST-everyone needs a good
Six of my friends and I are going to Rome and Florence in 3 weeks. Are we afraid to go? No! Are we more cautious? Absolutely. But the threat of the unknown isn't stopping us. We can't let the fear of what might (or might not) happen paralyze us into inaction. Life is too short to miss the opportunities that present themselves. This will be our third European excursion and we have a ball. Our first was to Paris, last year to London. All with the helpful tips from Rick, which we find invaluable. We can't wait to see beautiful Italy.
Rancho Cucamonga, CA USA 02/14/03
EUROPE HERE WE COME!!!
Recently I received a call from my mother, who informed me that all my family is very concerned about me traveling during this tough time. With recent events in London to the club bombing in Bali, all of this has my father cringing and my grandfather is not happy about the trip either. I just graduated college and my 5 week Europe trip with my boyfriend is a gift to myself for a accomplishing my number one dream: college. I will under no circumstances let today's world events keep me from my second dream.... traveling abroad. So with that said let's eat the best French pastries, experience the Amalfi Coast, ride a ski gondola in the Swiss Alps, and celebrate the Queen's birthday in Amsterdam.
San Diego, CA USA 02/14/03
We are going!
We are going! Those far-away places are CALLING my name... and I'm very excited and just a little nervous. But I have paid for tickets, reservations, train travel, and I'm not going to put my life on hold. To do that would be giving the terrorists what they want. My father and brother were killed in a plane crash in 1971, a plane that I was supposed to be on. Since then, air travel has been difficult for me. I suppose I'll have a gin-tonic to get me from one shore to the other, but once I'm on terra-firma, I'll be fine. This is a 3 month tour of a lifetime, and the only reason I'll cancel is if the planes don't fly! I winter in Desert Hot Springs, CA where I have the opportunity to meet many foreign visitors. The consensus is that people definitely understand the difference between the actions of the GOVERNMENT of the United States and the opiniona of the PEOPLE. For this, I'm grateful...
Portland, OR USA 02/14/03
WHERE to go or not to go
I have visited France 2-3 a year since 1997. My last trip to Paris was in January 2003. I will continue travelling abroad despite the current unrest in the world. Many Americans question my decision during these uncertain times. I have, however, made the difficult decision to forgo future trips to my favorite destination, not because of concern for my personal safety, but because of personal convictions and principles. My next trip abroad is in March 2003, but I will be visiting London as opposed to Paris.
Tucson, Arizona USA 02/12/03
I've waited long enough
I'm 33 years old, and never had the opportunity to go to Europe while I was in college because I worked my way through school. I've made excuses for several years not to go (need more money saved, too much work, etc...) but this year I finally sat down and bought a roundtrip ticket to Paris for an 11 day European vacation. I plan on visiting France and Italy, maybe Switzerland . . . basically wherever I feel like going between now and March 6. I have waited too long to do this, and unless I start hearing about mass anti-American incidents in these places, I'm not going to change my plans. If anyone has an opinion about my apparent lack of common sense, or any safety tips, e-mail me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I think I will definitely need a Valium for the flight!
Winston-Salem, NC USA 02/11/03
Traveling - don't stop
I believe in pre-destination; that is, that "somewhere" there is a big book with everyone's name in it along with the date and time they are "supposed" to die. NOTHING can interfere with this date and time. You can either be traveling, out having a good time and enjoying life; OR you can be sitting at home, too afraid or nervous to go out anywhere. Death will occur WHEN it's supposed to and nothing can change when it's your time. So why not live for the moment and GO FOR the things you like to do? I for one, cannot imagine not being able to be free, to travel, to read of others' travel. If I can't do the things I especially like, like travel, then I'd have an empty life, always sitting at home doing nothing but watching the time pass, just as it would do if you were doing something enjoyable.
The Courage of Columbia
I would just like to pay tribute to the seven courageous and adventurous "space travelers" of the Columbia... ...may your souls take flight and find peace "Ad astra per aspera" (Reach for the stars)
San Diego, CA USA 02/03/03
Re: France... this week, 1/23/03, France, Germany, Russia and China have announced they will not support US military action and are calling for more peaceful tactics. Has anyone who has returned from France after 1/ 25/03 experienced any increase in anti-American attitudes. We have tentative plans to bike through the Loire Valley this summer. Please email directly email@example.com.
Atlanta, ga USA 01/25/03
Go for it Devin
I'm also going to Spain in March. I think I have a much better chance of getting hit by a drunk driver in my hometown than I do having any problems related to a war. While I think that the unfolding world events are indeed a great tragedy, I believe that refraining from traveling hurts the very people I want to support: people who are proud to host a visitor who wants to better understand them and find a common ground between us and build a relation that is beneficial to all.
Albuquerque, NM USA 01/07/03
Travel on 9/11
We were on the Rick Steves Village France tour in Cassis on 09/11/01. It was a difficult and uncertain time for all of us. I can't praise our tour guide Chris Coleman enough. She kept us informed and on schedule and didn't miss a beat. Our trip was even more complicated by a death in the family. I can't say enough about our wonderful guide and ETBD staff. The French people were very compassionate and helpful as well. It was our second ETBD tour (GAS in 2000) and I'm sad to say we didn't go last year out of fear; however, we're looking at Village Italy for 2003. Life is short and travel doesn't get any better than these wonderful tours.
Seabrook, TX USA 01/05/03
To go or not to go
We shouldn't live in fear of what "might" happen...among other things it is not good for mental health. Since 9/11 (which impacted my family personally) we have traveled to Europe 4 times, taken 2 cruises and flown within the USA 6 round trips (yes, we are young retirees!). The most recent trip was a cruise. I can't tell you how many people couldn't understand why we'd put ourselves at risk for "Norwalk Virus". Well, we're home safe and sound and no virus! Each time we go somewhere we hear how risky it is...You know what-life is full of risks: sitting in your living room, driving to the mall, sitting in the movie theater. Don't let this get in the way of enjoying life. Be cautious, pay attention to your surroundings and have a wonderful time.
Going abroad post 9/11
Just go for it. If you are cancelling your travel plans because of the attacks, then you have really given in to the terrorists. Go out there and have a great time. And with regards to keeping a low profile, do it out of respect for the locals and the others around you, and not because of some fear of being perceived as an American.
New York, NY USA 12/09/02
Travel to Indonesia
My husband and I went to Bintan Island, Indonesia during the summer of 2001 and 2002. Granted, this island doesn't draw many Americans, but never once did we feel in any way threatened. Their hospitality was great!
centereach, ny USA 12/08/02
GO - travel somewhere!
I survived a truck bomb Dec 4 1965, and a foiled secondary attempt to kill susvivors / rescuers. September 11 2001, we were supposed to fly to Australia. We flew out the 16th- and made our dive boat. This year, we flew to Belgium, Germany, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, New Zealand and a couple of US cities to boot. No worries in our overseas destinations, it was safer (less violent crime) than home! People were largely friendly and supportive. And the most dangerous part of our travels- driving to the airport! Select your destination (avoiding the obvious trouble areas), GO, and don't allow the terrorists to win- intimidating us and making us change our freedom-loving ways (including the right to travel freely).
Carmichael, CA USA 12/04/02
Had a Fabulous Time In Rome!
My boyfriend and I had planned a trip to Rome over Thanksgiving of this year (2002). We had traveled to Florence last year over Thanksgiving, after the September 11th attacks, and encountered no problems, but I was still nervous about our trip to Rome. I just returned from our trip last Friday, November 29, 2002 and wanted to tell everyone that we had a fabulous time! I am so glad we decided to plan this trip! If you are thinking about traveling to Italy go ahead and do it! This was the best trip we have ever taken in our lives. I am so glad we did not let fear prevent us from traveling.
K. L. Nadeau
Natick, MA USA 12/03/02
Definitely GO! Life is too short and precious to let the terrorists succeed at scaring you. I went to Hawaii on 9/15/01 - it was the first flight from Phoenix to Hawaii after 9/11. I felt very defiant and determined to live my life including my travel dreams. We just got back from a week touring Germany and Austria by car and had a great time. The people were very polite and helpful. On at least 3 occasions that I remember, people came up to us as we stood looking at maps trying to figure out where we were going to offer assistance. I thought that was incredible! GO, GO, GO!!!
Kathy Ann Walsh
Scottsdale, AZ USA 10/10/02
So glad we went! (finally!!)
We were supposed to go to France, Germany, & Belgium on Sept. 12, 2001 for 3 weeks. Obviously, our flight was canceled. We ended up deciding to postpone the trip for a year - multiple reasons. So we finally went on Sept. 10, 2002 & just returned yesterday. I'm sooo glad we went!!! We had a wonderful time. I did try to keep a lower profile than usual. We didn't notice a "lack" of Americans overseas - particularly in Versailles!!
NC USA 10/03/02
traveling after 9/11
Few Americans on my Aug-September trip to Italy. Do not delay your trip. Go, enjoy but keep a low profile as always. This has always been good advice.
Ca USA 09/25/02
While traveling in Holland and Belgium for the last two weeks, we were asked where the Americans were and why they weren't visiting. It's very, very apparent that tourism is down in Europe right now and really, given the lack of people in lines, it's probably the best time to go. We never felt uncomfortable during this trip! I highly recommend going.
Cottage Grove, MN USA 09/03/02
GO! Planning parents' 50th in Europe
GO! GO! GO! We were talking about my parents' upcoming 50th anniversary, and suggested a trip to Spain. Everyone loved it, especially my 70-something parents! The twelve of us will travel by train, with a week spent driving through the Pueblos Blancos in Andalucia. We can't wait!
Albuquerque, NM USA 08/20/02
GO! That would be the best way to describe how I feel about traveling post-9/11... I recently had the absolute time of my life going to Spain with my hubby, where we celebrated our ten yrs. together. If I had played party to my fears about flying considering previous events, I would have lost a once in a lifetime opportunity to have a blast! Besides, we all have to die sometime, so why not go out following your dreams?? I cannot answer that question. GO! Enjoy! Buen Viaje!
NV USA 07/18/02
Our trip last Fall was supposed to begin 9/13. Needless to say - had to wait a week before we were able to go. Other than the fact that we encountered very few other travelers from the US - we had a great time. My friends were jittery about us going - but I'm not going to stop living my life
Travel = Life
ABSOLUTELY TRAVEL....I was with my partner and 2 friends in Siena, Italy on September 11th. even though the events were terrifying, the Italian people ( and others from elsewhere) were so supportive and kind. They too grieved for what had happened. You cannot put your life on hold because of others' actions. Traveling is the best way to live your life...I'm already planning a Spring 2003 trip.
Minneapolis, MN USA 06/11/02
We had been planning a trip to England and Austria for 2 years. Much of the planning was with the help of Rick's web site and TV shows. With delays because of a change of jobs, a postponement of Spring 2001 because of hoof & mouth / mad cow concerns. We rescheduled for the trip in the last 3 weeks of Oct. 2001. All the majors were paid for in advance, Plane tickets, rental cars, a cottage in the Cotswalds and Gasthauses in Innsbruk and Salzburg. We had trip insurance but were certain it would not pay for cancellation due to just a threat of additional terrorism.
We made the decision to go and not let others destroy our life long dream of traveling to Europe. Some of our family and friends thought we were brave, others thought we were incredibly unwise to travel. We just didn't want to throw away the opportunity. Ironically, our departure date was October 11th from Dulles airport near Wash. D.C., departure point for one of the doomed airplanes. As recommended we arrived nearly 3 hours early to allow for all the extra security. We did not need to bother, we were appalled that the process took about 20 minutes longer than pre-September 11 and did not seem very thorough. I told my wife "Have we not learned anything?" Later we felt more comfortable because of the diligent and efficient security process we went through at Heathrow and Munich Airports.
We had a wonderful life experience. For 8 days in the Cotswalds we lived in a beautiful stone cottage and drove all over the country side exploring the beauty of that rural region. We spent two days in London which was not nearly enough time and then off to Munich for a driving tour of Bavaria, Austria and the Alps. We were blessed with marvelous weather in both countries with temperatures in the mid 70's and cool nights which started the leaves turning colors during our stay. In 3 weeks we only had about a day of rain in England and 1 1/2 days of rain in Austria. We did notice fewer Americans and we felt that many had cancelled travel plans. We were low key about being Americans but especially in England people were extremely friendly and supportive.
One last point, we never thought much about until the trip. My wife has
a credit card with an American flag as the design. Every time she used
it, especially in England, the merchant would pause, take a long look
at it and either strike up an interesting conversation or thank us for
coming to their country in such a tough time, or some other supportive
comment. It made us feel good to be Americans, almost like we were good
will ambassadors. You can threaten us, but you won't scare us away. A
fantastic trip that we will never forget. We are starting to plan another
trip to England to see more, especially London. Thanks again Rick for
your web site and programs. They are excellent resources that made us
travel pros without having to make many of the mistakes we would have
made if left to our own devices.
Port Deposit, MD USA 06/07/02
Yes, go and have a good time
Have fun and go! I will admit, we cancelled our trip to the Benelux coutries last September and rescheduled for May 2002. This time we did not have the sense of nervousness and sadness we had in Sept. Well, we went and got back in late May. It was a very fun time and we were warmly received. My only concern was the usual old one about pickpockets in the rail stations which are easily preventable. The security guy that wanted to look over my big bag in the Amsterdam airport was courteous and funny. Arrive on time (or early) at the aiport, expect lots of questions and have fun !!
Seattle, WA USA 06/05/02
Don't live in Fear
Despite it all, my plans to go to Ireland in July continue unchanged. I made them last November, even after everything..everything I never thought I'd see and be apart of in my worst nightmares.. But I'm still going, even though my family is against it..but I refuse to stay at home, just as I refused to stop going into the city. And I can't wait to go and have a Guiness or two and relax. I feel more of a target in my own back yard...especially as of late with armed scuba diver and suicide bomber warnings...and so I really am not fearful of flying out of Newark and going overseas. I say why put it off? Go support tourism. Don't let these animals keep you from doing what you want to. Traveling is fantastic and rewarding experience. Life is too short to not go and make your dream trip a reality.
Jackson, NJ USA 05/28/02
Travel after 9/11
No way...no way am I letting cowards interfere with any travel plans I have now or in the future. In fact, I went to NYC a little over a month after the attacks for Game 3 of the ALCS, and saw Ground Zero. I have traveled in the US since then, and am already planning a two week trip to Germany and possibly England for July 2003.
Mountlake Terrace, WA USA 05/19/02
To go or not to go
I think the following report from the rector of the American Episcopal church in Florence is relevant to this discussion: "At the end of the Eucharist, several bottles of spumante were uncorked and the small crowd of worshippers were thanked for gathering in 'joy and fear.' But before anyone left we took the opportunity to take an 'official count,' and found . . .. Of the seventy-five worshippers on Easter Sunday morning at 'The American Church,' only 25 of us were U.S. citizens. The other fifty persons were from England, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Malta, Romania, Albania, Canada, Sweden, Germany, Thailand, South Africa, Senegal, Nigeria, Philippines, and Moldova, and two families were residents of Jersey, the Channel Islands and the United Arab Emirates." I think this demonstrates something we sheltered Americans can learn from the rest of the world about the courage of just getting on with life.
Fairfax, FA USA 05/13/02
Travel to Euope after 9/11
Travelled to Italy in Feb 2002, a few months after 9/11. Mostly Florence and Milan. The Italians I associated with grieved along with Americans. A good friend of mine who works in Florence and lives not far from there was horrified. The horrible act of viscious cruelty and barbarism offended civilized people all over the world.
NJ USA 05/08/02
I have just returned from 2.5 weeks in Italy, from Tuscany to Ischia. I was very distressed to see that not many Americans are going to Europe. There were many Germans, British, French, but not many Americans. TRAVEL, GO TO EUROPE!!! Many people told us how sad they were on 9/11 and how they support us! There were American flags and the best of all, I saw a guard at Fontan di Trevi with an American Flag on his lapel. By not traveling, you're hurting yourself.
NY USA 05/05/02
L'amour, vivent et rient!
I just wanted to tell all of the people traveling, thank you. I spent last summer traveling and loved it. I came back to the US thinking I'd be back to Europe in six months, but after 9/11 I was scared! But I am happy to report that I will be traveler again on Sept 9, 2002! I cannot wait ti get back, the world is too small to stay in one place! L'amour, vivent et rient!
AZ USA 05/04/02
Never miss an opportunity
I have been traveling through Europe since the beginning of April. I was travelling with a friend of mine for most of the trip, however when we were in the southern part of Spain and I decided to see Morrocco he refused to come. I have been in Marrakesh now for several days and have found it to be extremely interesting and fun. The people have been extremely friendly to me and have even give me some free gifts. The list of freebies include: henna tattoes, several meals, taxi cab rides, and a leather belt. It has been a great trip altogether. I have also been to Milan, Venice, rome, Florence, Pisa, Zurich, Interlaken, Monaco, Nice, Lucerne, Barcelona, Seville, and Tangiers. I have not had ANY problems in any of the cities I have been to related to anti american sentiments. If you have made plans already stick to them and you will be grateful that you did. As Hunter Thompson wrote "Buy the ticket, take the ride." My friend missed out on a great experience because he was afraid. I hope I have been encouraging and helpful.
Miami, fl USA 04/28/02
Gang -- Thanks for the word of encouragement, that word being GO. Appreciate the support.
Europe after 9/11
I was hesitant to vacation in Europe after 9/11. My husband was turning 50 and I wanted to take him to London, so very glad that I put my fears aside. What an excellent vacation. Felt safe, security not a problem. Remember they're just doing their jobs, be patient.
Valparaiso, IN USA 04/08/02
My husband and I still are planning our 9 day adventure to Italy in late June....Rome, Florence, and Venice are the major stops. Life MUST go on...
Clarksville, TN USA 04/08/02
If anyone is planning on going, I say just do it. In America, we are
scared of terrorists because it is new to us. We having been living in a
sheltered world just becuase we are separated from Europe and Asia by a
couple of Oceans. Europeans have been dealing with this stuff for decades.
They are prepared. I think that being in Europe is safer than some places
in America. Also, Europe's state run airlines and airports are better managed
than ours. Just blend in and become a temporary local like Rick says and
you should be fine
We returned yesterday from 3 weeks in France, Switzerland and Italy. The level of security in Paris and all cities in Italy was incredible. I have traveled extensively in Europe and have never seen any thing close to this. The ratio of police to tourists in Rome seemed like 1:1 last week. Cameras everywhere, people on rooftops, helicopters, plain clothes security everywhere. At no time did we feel any anti American sentiment, nor did we feel like we were in a police state. Everyone we spoke with was supportive. The Italians were really angry at the American Embassy's warning. They feel we are caving in to terrorist threats. I would not hesitate to return to Italy tomorrow if it were not for those pesky little things like jobs and bills.
Index, WA USA 03/30/02
We just returned 6 days ago from our first trip to Paris. The people were wonderful (the only rude people we met worked for a US airline). We had numerous events I could recount of Parisians trying to help us. One lady even left her bus stop to walk us down 2 blocks to show us where a certain bank was! Say hi, be nice to people and they will be nice to you.
About the concern, we did not feel any great fear. The airport security
was stepped up but the 3 hour suggest check-in before flight time was
not neccessary. As an example of how comfortable we felt, I am booking
for next Feb today because 400.00 RT to Paris is not going to last forever.
My advice is to go and have a good time, relax. The most security conscious
thing I did was take my Rick Steves money belt. Here's wishing your trip
is as wonderful as ours was.
Fl USA 03/30/02
TRAVEL POST 9/11
I just returned form Athens and had absolutely no problems. I felt safe, and as for blending in, my plaid shorts and t-shirt did not help.
CINCINNATI, OH USA 03/29/02
My husband and I postponed our honeymoon (we were married in Oct. 2001)
and we are leaving for Italy on April 7th. I say unless something actually
happens easter sunday, GO GO GO. If something does happen, then we'll try
to change our plans to go somewhere else in Europe. If nothing happens as
we suspect will be the case then you run the same risk EVERY DAY! Go anyways.
Don't hide your head in the sand.
Pleasanton, CA USA 03/29/02
The key thing to remember here is "...to melt in and travel like temporary locals." I have never needed to avoid a shady character or uncomfortable situation in Europe, and I doubt that will change just because of 9/11.
I'm going to Italy (well, I *think* I'm going to Italy) in June for 2 weeks, but now I don't know. I've read Rick's encouragement on the Easter warning in Italy.
HTS, WV USA 03/29/02
GO to Europe
Just returned from London with a 14 year old. Except for long lines coming back to US(two x-ray machine lines at Gatwick)everything was just as it had been on my prior visits. Lots of tourists, school kids on class trips and the wonderful plays. Do go and get out of the city and into the beautiful country side.
Barrington, NJ USA 03/26/02
Read in the current issue of Travel-Holiday magazine about which travel
insurance companies provide information on finacially secure and insecure
tour operators, and which types and providers of insurance to use in these
uncertain times. It could save you getting stranded or losing a lot of money.
CA USA 03/23/02
I say go for it, i had always wanted to go to Europe and I had bought my non-refundable ticket in august of 01, i was reluctant to go but i can assure you that the security in Frankfurt Airport is tight. I was glad I went, so don't be afraid to live out your dreams.
Seminole, ok USA 03/18/02
To go or not to go.
As an American service member living in Germany all I can say to everyone thinking of coming-COME! The security over here in Europe is much tighter than the U.S. Most Europeans countries have tougher laws and are more aware of their surroundings. Come, be cautious-be aware of your surroundings, and have fun!
Driesch, Germany 03/18/02
Police combat violent muggings in Madrid
I have seen on several travel websites about people being robbed and violently mugged in Madrid and Barcelona. Last night on the news, the Chief of Police as well as the mayor of Madrid, are going to do more to stop these muggings and take victims reports more seriously. They are going to have report forms in several languages:English, French, Italian, Japanese,Chinese and German. As for anyone thinking of traveling to Spain..I have been living here for almost 2 years, it is very safe and I dont think any Americans will have any problems traveling here.
Spain, NA ESP 03/14/02
First Experience with European Airports
I went to England with my fiance back in May of 2001. It was first experience with a European airport and I was so impressed. I only wish that American airports had that sort of security. It gave me a strange sense of well being seeing such a presence at the airport. I hope that American airports will become the same way. I have no problem standing in a longer line if I know that it means me and my family will be more safe.
denver, co USA 03/13/02
To Go or Not to Go...
I think Nike said it best.... Just do it!
Va USA 03/08/02
September 11th travel
I am strongly considering going to London and Paris this summer. I am now accustomed to the security. I even am more convinced due to the higher security in place. The last few trips I have taken my Rick Steves suitcase and checked it in two hours before. Only twice did I encounter long lines at security. I use the American Airlines Onestop and go right to the gate. When I couldn't use Alaska Air's curbside I was the only passenger in line so I think I am receiving better service than before September 11th. My bag is usually the first one off the plane. I took my laptop before and it was not a major hassle just unpack it, put it through the machine and then repack it. On two of my flights they removed someone's luggage who didn't board the plane. On my last trip they unloaded and reloaded the plane to find the luggage of the missing passenger. I would rather be delayed 1 hour than ending my life in the air.
Saratoga, CA USA 03/07/02
If you give in and don't travel then the terrorists have win. Show them that you can't be intimidated.
London, Ontario, Canada, USA 03/05/02
Go ahead and travel
I have taken two overseas trips since Sept. 11. October 11 I left for three weeks in Peru and January 19 I went to Tahiti. Now is the best time to travel. It is safer than it has been in years. Just be patient with all of the extra inconveniences. I would recommend checking all but the smallest of carry ons, it makes getting through the lines much faster. Also, with the extra checks to ensure unattended luggage isn't put on any airplanes, checked luggage is less likely to be lost.
Mukilteo, WA USA 03/04/02
Going to europe..plain and simple
I planned a trip to the UK and Europe before 9/11/01...After the WTC and Pentagon attacks, I seriously considered playing chicken and staying home...But, I thought of something that Winston Churchill said during the dark days of WW2:
"We are still masters of our fate. We are still captain of our souls."
-Prime Minister's Speech on the War Situation, House of Commons, September
9, 1941. I urge EVERYONE who has planned a trip to keep to it!! I'm headed
to the Netherlands, Germany,France, and the UK in late April-early May
for a three week trip. I hope to meet some of my fellow americans there
Waco, Tx USA 03/02/02
The decision to postpone after 9/11
It was with much angst that we decided to postpone our September trip to Europe (my first!). We came to that decision for many reasons - mourning, trepidation about the realities of airline security, etc. In the end it came down to my son not wanting to fly. I have never been crazy about flying myself either which made the decision that much easier.
I am now pleased with my decision to postpone this trip. We are now scheduled
to leave in June. Despite the hassle (enormous!) and expense of rebooking
our consolidator tickets and cancelling and rebooking all of our hotel
reservations, time has allowed us to heal some from the events of 9/11.
And although airline security in this country still has a long way to
go, I believe that some improvements have been made.
Stoneham, MA USA 02/26/02
Great experience after 9-11
My friend and I were traveling in Spain when 9-11 happened. We were on the first plane that was allowed out of Spain. The Amsterdam airport was great. Despite 4 separate checkpoints, which took over 6 hours, the airport personnel kept a great sense of fun throughout the ordeal. They spoke perfect English. The personnel must have seen how exhausted we all were because they rolled in carts and carts of bottled water for us (Unfortunately no porta-potties). My friend was selected to have her baggage randomly searched. Of course, thinking that we might be laid over somewhere, she had quickly packed her underwear in the outside pocket of her bag. When her name came up for the search, I laughed and told her that was her fault for putting her underwear in. The officer looked at her seriously and said, "Thong or Bikini?". Then he let us through with a smile.
bellevue, wa USA 02/25/02
travel in Ireland, September 11, 2001
My husband and I were in a small town in Inishowen, Co. Donegal Ireland on September 11, our son's birthday! When I asked a lady what town we were in, she said are you from Washington? She then told us about the planes crashing into buildings. When we found a pub (The Squealin' Pig, Muff, Ireland,) to go in to watch a tv, the people were so friendly. They welcomed us as if we were part of the family. Even though they lost friends and family in New York they were concerned about us. They included us in a birthday party for the owner of the pub. We did not feel at all as unsafe or unwanted visitors in their country. The day of remembrance in Northern Ireland for America was very moving!! This was our second trip to Ireland. We love it there.
Tigard, OR USA 02/24/02
To Go or Not To Go ...What's the Problem?
Has everybody lost their minds?! 9/11 was a DOMESTIC attack. Rick Steves deals with internatioal travel to Europe. Of course it's safe (and cheaper than it's ever gonna be). My girlfriend took AA's non stop from Dallas to Paris about a month ago and there was only 50 people on a 777 (holds 300+ I think). Everybody got to lay across 5 seats in the center to sleep through the flight. There's deals and half empty hotels everywhere. IF you really want to save a bundle try Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia or Jordan right now. You'll be the only tourist there - they'll love you! Flying internationally is not scary (if you still aren't convinced, get some Xanax from your doctor and hop on that giant steel horse.) What's really scary is all the stupid so-called security at the airport. 90% of it is a joke.
Whittier(los Angeles), Ca USA 02/22/02
Get up and go
My wife, my 8 year old daughter, and I are traveling around Europe for 70 days this summer, and we couldn't be more excited. Although the memory of 9/11 will forever be with us, our attitude is that you have to live your life and do what you love to do. Not a day goes by that my daughter and I don't talk about something we want to see or do this summer. She is reading books on the countries we are going to see, and we have a map to start planning a tentative schedule. Get out and do it! Also, I echo the thoughts of another poster who said xanex does the trick. My wife hates to fly, but that stuff makes her unaware of pretty much anything that is going on.
Bakersfield, Ca USA 02/12/02
GO GO GO!
GO GO GO, KEEP YOUR MIND OPEN!
the world, USA 02/09/02
Missing your children
Amelia-we took several European trips without children when they were young. If this is your first trip without them, I'd shorten it a bit - 10 days was the longest I felt comfortable with being away. Our first trip was 12 days long and the last 2 were almost worthless for me. I'd focus my energies on choosing to see only a small geographical part of Europe with the goal being to always come back and see more. We did an annual 8-10 day trip for 5 years, took a few years off, and now we take our kids with us.
atlanta, ga USA 02/01/02
First Trans-Atlantic flight and missing children
My husband and I plan special events every year for our anniversary in October. This year we have plans to cash in our frequent flier miles and live our dream of experiencing Europe and seeing first hand what we learned in our Undergraduate educations. Although I am buying books and beginning the planning process I am wrought with nervousness about the flight out. Also, although we are planning a short European trip by most standards (14 days) I am worried about how much i will miss my two little girls who are 3 and 9 months. Any tips on reducing my anxiety of my first trans-Atlantic flight and dealing with missing my children...this is the longest we will have ever been apart. thanks so much.
Denver, co USA 01/31/02
Flying safety from a recent traveler
My daughter recently returned from a wonderful vacation in Germany. Here are her comments on flying: "Driving is still more dangerous than flying, and the annoying controls may actually make flying yet safer, depending on how much they get on one's nerves and blood pressure. In the whole scheme of things, flying is much safer than driving, and most people drive every day of the week. Remember that about 50 thousand people die each year in auto wrecks. Kind of like the Vietnam war every year. How many people die/are maimed in airline accidents per year? 1000? I guess you'd have to take into acct. miles travelled, time spent., etc. to really compare it, but statistically flying is pretty safe, and last year even with all this mess it was one of the safest years in decades."
Mary from Oregon
We went, we saw, we shopped and we had a great time!
We just returned from Paris and Rome and had a wonderful time. I feel real silly now after all the fuss I made about not going and being afraid to fly. I wasted a lot of energy on my fears. But, all went well on the flights. Paris and Rome were both very cold, but that didn't stop us from going everywhere and seeing everything. We just had such a great time. Thank you to everyone that answered me through email and this forum. I listened to you all...My husband wishes to thank all of you as well...(Duane's wife)..;)
Winters, CA USA 01/24/02
Rx for Fear of Flying
Duane-for your wife who is afraid to fly - get drugs! I was afraid to fly even before Sept 11 but love to travel and love Europe. I've taken several trips and my doctor prescribes Xanax for me. It is like Valium - makes you feel less anxious and therefore helps you sleep on those night flights over. I admit it's become a crutch for me, but one I willingly use in order to travel. Remember, fear of flying is not a "logical" fear - we all know the statistics about the safety of flying versus driving. It's an irrational fear and rather than subject myself to 9 hours of white knuckling, I take my pill. Good luck to you both
Atlanta, USA 01/18/02
Go For It
I've booked my May trip to London, Normandy, and Paris, travelling alone as I did last year, and preferring it that way. No way will I let terrorist scum limit my personal freedom.
Potomac Falls, VA USA 01/17/02
September 11th from someone who was flying & Lost Someone
I was flying back from the UK to Newark on September 11th. Our Continental was diverted to Stephensville(sp?), Newfoundland. Thank you President Bush for what you did. The captain of the plane was amazing!! Over the intercom came the announcement, "Our plane has been ordered to land, please follow my crew members instructions." Shortly thereafter he dumped fuel and made a full thrust landing at the airport. We remained on the plane for 10 hours and under intense security. When we arrived at our lodgings we were all glued to CNN, The captain and crew remained on the plane until it was emptied, another 10 hours. The airlines provided our room, paid our international phone calls and paid all expenses incurred. The captain of the flight came and told us be prepared when I call you. We were notified early in the morning that we would leave.
When I returned home a large tin/basket of fruit, etc. arrived from
Gordon Bethune, the CEO of COntinental. His note said, "Please accept
my sympathy, Continental's, and all of the worlds sympathy on your families
loss. Words do not express our feelings."
MO USA 01/12/02
Post 9/11 travel
I read the following quotes attributed to Helen Keller, which says it all as far as I'm concerned: "Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold." "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature." I find the rationale that postponing a trip until it's "safer" quite illogical.
Moorhead, MN USA 01/10/02
Post 911 - to go or not to go
To go or not to go? Go by all means. We just returned from Paris and Germany.Six nights in Paris. Wonderful. Try the Hotel Champs du Mars in the Rue Cler area. The best we tried so far, out of three trips. Friendly, clean, comfortable.
CA USA 01/04/02
Travel is GREAT!!
My wife and I are in Roma for a month, staying at Hotel Aberdeen. Trip, security, hotel, food and PARTICURLARY THE GELATO, could not be better. If you are afraid to go now, don't worry, I will be happy to eat all the Gelato for you. I am trying. Take Rick's advice and GO! It' do you good and who knows, maybe it will do this tired ole world some good too.
Charles M. Luther
ROMA , ITALY!! 01/02/02
Happy New Year in Rome!!!
Anne and I are flying to Rome on New Year's Day. We'll split our winter break between Rome, Florence and Munich. While it's cold and crisp, we're expecting a warm welcome and excited to try out those new Euros. Stay tuned for a report. Rick Steves
Nervous in California
My husband and I are leaving for Paris and than on to Rome in January. I'm a lot nervous and wondering if we're doing the right thing right now. My husband is not nervous at all and really wants to go. I'm hoping someone will tell me my fears are unfounded and we're going to have a wonderful time. A little nervous in California, Leslie
Winters, CA USA 12/30/01
2002 Europe Travel
Me and my wife are planning a trip to Paris and Rome on 1/11/02. After 9/11 my wife has become afraid of flying more so than before. She is on the fence weather to keep our vacation plans or cancel until the fall. She is going day by day not really excited about the trip, but willing to go to not disappoint me and because half of her wants to go. She also gets panic attacks from a medical condition, so she has made an appointment with our doctor to get something to relax her on the plan rides. And like some of your travelers have already said, some of our relatives and friends are trying to discourage us. I've told her maybe we should not fly now. I'm ready to throw in the towel. I'm wondering if their is anyone else that went through out situation and can gives us advice?
Winters, ca USA 12/29/01
Travel after 9/11
I believe that life without joy is no life at all. I also believe that travel is joy--it's also a pain sometimes--so I cannot imagine life without traveling. I grew up in a small town on the border of Texas and Coahuila, Mexico, where the Tejanos are fearful of traveling even 150 miles to the closest largest city. Not me! As a child I read of faraway places and yearned to visit them. So as soon as I could, I have been traveling. The farthest I have traveled was to Italy. Now in my 50th year my husband and I will be moving to Spain! I am ecstatic--to live in Europe--what a thrill and what joy! I simply do not listen to those friends and family who choose to live within their narrow boundaries, physically and mentatlly. Life is too short not to live it to the fullest. Carpe diem... (seize the day...)
Del Rio, TX USA 12/27/01
Nothing's hindering us!
I booked airline tickets to Europe the day after 9-11 and am leaving tomorrow with my brother to Europe (6 countries) for one month. The key is to be aware and to stay away from potentially dangerous situations. Since my parents are quite adventurous and this trip is me and my brother's college grad gift, they were still supportive after everything that happened. I'm grateful for this website too, and all the advice I've been able to gather. We're going to have an experience of a lifetime, whether good or bad. Nothing's hindering us!
Diamond Bar, CA USA 12/27/01
I was one of the many travelers stranded on September 11th. I was enroute to Boston from Los Angeles. I didn't make it to Boston the week I was scheduled to, but I visited that beautiful city in November. I've also taken trips to Canada and several other cities! All of my trips this fall have been worth the hassle of longer security lines at airports. I've decided that not traveling gives the enemies just what they want! Traveling is just rewarding as it was before 9/11/01. Please keep the hard working employees in the travel industry in business. Don't let fear stop you from what you love.
Orange, CA USA 12/25/01
Don't be afraid!!!
My mother and I left on our 3 week trip to France and Spain on October 7. We were somewhat nervous, and our family and friends were terrified. We had the bizarre experience of leaving on the very day the USA began bombing Afghanistan. We were in the air from Salt Lake to Minneapolis when the bombings began, and we had a stressful two hour window in the Minneapolis airport listening to Tony Blair announcing on CNN why the attack had begun. We decided that we would regret not going forever, and we took that deep breath and stepped onto the plane. As many posts have stated before, we were greeted with open arms. The Parisians were extremely polite and more than helpful (I have no idea why they have a bad reputation). Don't allow the terrorists to frighten YOU. You'll have a great time, and it will re-affirm your faith in people when you ask directions of hundreds of strangers, most of whom are kind, and polite, and most importantly, willing to help you. You will broaden your mind, and hopefully make some new friends on the way. Have a great trip!!
Idaho Falls, ID USA 12/15/01
I was in the air on 9/11
We had just completed a 3 weeks trip to italy. On the morning of 9/11, we flew from Florence to London Gatwick via Alitalia. We switched to our AA 777 and started our flight to NYC. By 8:46am on 9/11 we were almost to NYC. The pilot came on to tell us that the United States was closed to all air traffic and that we are turning around and heading back to London. That was it. We did not find out what happened until we reached Ireland airspace and cell phones started working. We took up quarters in Brighton Beach England for the next 8 days until we could fly home. Now...during those 8 days, we decided not to sit in the room. We would explore England. The British people were wonderful! Kind, caring and helpful. Because we had been packing, we were out of everything, including money. People gave us free food, free contact lenses, car rides, anything we needed. People consoled us, cried with us and layed flowers at the Embassy. It was a testiment to our relationship with our European friends.
By all means go. The planes are safe. The streets are safe (even on 9/19
they were safe)and by not going, you let the scum win. Go...be free. Explore,
travel, meet people, have fun! If anyone wants to know anymore, please
feel free to email me or IM me at beachhoppr.
Raleigh, NC USA 12/13/01
A small group of us went to Europe on Sept 20 for one month.
Leaving from Detroit was not a problem, just more security than normal.
Went to Munich for the Octoberfest and found American Flags flying from
the ceiling and people welcoming us. On top of the Zugsspitze the bartender
bought us schnapps because we were Americans traveling. Went to Paris and
again people were glad to see Americans traveling and not being fearful
to do so. Spent a week in Normandy and then onto Belgium, again we were
greeted with open arms. I'm certainly glad we didn't listen to our family
and friends who told us not to go. If we had, we would have missed a wonderful
Bob Loukotka, Ann Arbor, Mich
Ann Arbor, MI USA 12/08/01
Travel in Italy after 9/11
My husband and I had read the books, studied the tapes and talked with friends about their experiences as we approached our first trip to Italy. We were excited and anxious to experience the ambiance of this wonderful country in early October of this year. We were glad to hear via the news that Rick Steves was already there and checking out dangers before we left the states. We had wonderful weather, short lines and probably saw more than we could have if history hadn't been made on 9/11. We were warmly greeted and with what little Italian we could manage others filled in with the english. There was the 11:30 curfew that we missed and had been warned of in Siena, but we just went back to Florence where Soggiorn Magliani welcomed us at 12:30 am as if we were family. Thanks for speaking out about fear that can cripple us and keep us from the joys of life.
Cincinnati, ohio USA 12/05/01
Go! Go! Go!
I just spent last summer traveling through Europe. I can honestly say that I was concerned before I left about theft and crime, but once I was over there I was amazed about how kind, helpful and generous people are. Numerous times we were lost (go figure!) and people would stop and offer us help, once even escorting us to our hostel. More and more what we found is that they were just as interested in us and we were with them.
Traveling is important for many reasons. One, I gained a newfound appreciation for my country. It's amazing what we enjoy each day and never think about. Two, it's amazing what we can live without (do we really need 3 bathrooms in one house?). And lastly, after seeing so much history and culture I was overwhelmed with life and the world.
September 11th was a horrible day in history, but what can we gain by
being afraid? So many great things have come from tradegy and despair.
Being afraid is not our nature, being quiet is not a consistent trait
in Americans! Be proud of you who are and where you came from, and don't
ever pretend to be someone you're not! We are a fantastic country and
I say go out and show your colors!
Scott, USA 12/03/01
Italy without scared Americans!
Ok, So I am sitting here in Vernazza at the Blue Marlin waiting for the Capitano to open. I ponder deeply the words RS wrote in "To Go or Not to Go". I am partially glad all of the Americans that decided not to travel this winter. Because it leaves all the enjoyment to me. Granted, that is selfish. But I can tell you one thing, arriving in Verona without a reservation and walking up to the Hotel Aurora and snagging the finest view of Piazza Erbe... The safest place to be right now it seems is in Europe. And Rick Steves without a doubt has the same tastes as I. All the places I go they tell me OH he was just here, I seem to be chasing after him. Mi Amora continues to thank me over the places we "find" and stay. I humbly remind her that it is not I but Rick Steves that is her daddy.
RS- One thing- add Cafe Za Za in Firenze to your list it is painfully
close to Casa Rabatti and is inexpensive and fantasmo!
memphis, TN USA 12/03/01
Travel after 9/11
The events of 9/11 have not put my dreams on hold. I have a trip planned to London in February and I have every intention of going. Two members of our travel party have opted not to go. I have to respect their decision. Everyone must do what is within thier own comfort zone. I have always been a cautious traveler and I have never encountered a bad situation away from home. I am confident I will be safe and that any necessary safety precautions have been taken. I have always felt safer flying to Europe because their security measures are stricter than those here in the states.
Very safe in Europe
I live in Germany (military dependent). The schools here are sending kids on all of the scheduled trips. Seniors going to Paris, Band to London, MUN to Brussels. Believe me if they felt there was a security issue these trips would not be taking place. My husband and I feel extremely safe and continue to travel.
baumholder, germany 11/28/01
Orchestra to Vienna
Our high school orchestra has been planning a ten day tour to Vienna, Salzburg and Prague for over a year now. Many students have been fundraising for this performance tour. 90% of the families wish to continue with our plans. As the director, should I put 85 students "at risk" or should we be strong and represent our country with public performances in central Europe? Trip dates are mid-April, 2002. Thanks.
Mukilteo, WA USA 11/26/01
Go to Europe
Go! Just got back from 2 weeks (France, Italy,Germany). No problems people were nice and had a great time. Looking forward to going back. Did see a police presence everywhere. Not sure if normal or extra as have never been to Europe.
Richardson, TX USA 11/26/01
I just got back from 2 months in Europe. I felt completely safe the entire time and there were lots of good deals because of it being the end of season and there being a lack of tourist. It is a great time to go to Europe.
I had Rick Steve's "Best of Europe" and "Great Britain". Both books were
wonderful for the trip!
Provo, UT USA 11/24/01
Travel to Italy after 9/11
Four friends and I (all women) just returned November 8th from a ten day trip to Italy. I must admit that I was extremely nervous and did not have the blessing of most of my family. But thankfully I listened to my husband and went anyway. He knew I would regret not going for the rest of my life. He was right!! What a great trip (and a great husband)! My friends and I felt very safe. We were in Rome for three days and then rented a car and traveled north. We flew out of Nice, and the whole trip went off without a hitch. I certainly sympathize with those who are having reservations about traveling abroad, but I put myself through a lot of stress for nothing before my trip.
Asheville, NC USA 11/24/01
Just got home at 2:30 this morning from 2 weeks in Italy and Malta. We travelled on planes, trains, buses, hydrofoil, ferry, car ferry, cruise ship, funicular, just about you-name-it - all with no problems. Flew on three different airlines (Air Canada, Air Malta, Alitalia). We (two American women) walked at night with no problems (except from one car-full of amorous Italian men who "just wanted sex"). My family didn't want me to go but it was never an issue. Travel, enjoy! Just don't do anything stupid, but that rule has always applied.
Portland, TX USA 11/20/01
not everyone hates us
I went to Greece before 9-11, but i heard that they had some anti-american stuff going on.. not true I was treated with respect and kindness.... not everyone hates America... beware, but don't go with the attitude that everyone hates us, because they don't.
Kirkland, Wa USA 11/19/01
My sister and I just returned from a weeklong trip to Paris (November 2nd-10th). While our 2 friends who also planned to travel with us canceled, we decided it was important to keep our plans. Everywhere we went we were greeted with open arms. The Parisians were friendly and eager to make our trip great (my past experiences in Paris were just as welcoming). Never did we feel threatened or unsafe. Now is a particularly good time to travel, as many aren't. We found no throngs of tourists anywhere (as you will find in the summer months and even in some places in the winter months). It was a pleasure to just walk into the Louvre with out waiting in line. For anyone wavering on taking his or her trip, I say go for it. P.S thank you again to the New Jersey couple that gave me the role of film up on the top of Notre Dame Cathedral when I didn't have a spare role!
Kirkland, Wa USA 11/19/01
Been living in Kilkenny Ireland since September 11. I'm an American, been living in Europe for a year and a half--Amsterdam, then Spain; Dublin for a couple of months. Coincidence that I landed here on that day. Terrible day. But the Irish have been great. Have to say, Irish the only people in Europe I've met who as a whole truly appreciate Americans.
Redmond, OR USA 11/17/01
Go to Europe!!!
My wife, daughter, and I just returned from Belgium and France on Oct. 15, and other than more security checks, we did not have any problem travelling. Although security is heightened, we found that checkpoints were efficient, and the people were friendly. We did notice that armed guards were everywhere, but if you just go about your business, they won't bother you. In Paris we noticed that the French have sealed all of their metal trash cans in favor or green plastic bags. Not a big deal. We were so relaxed about everything that we are planning another trip for next year.
Seattle, WA USA 11/16/01
Traveling since Sept. 11
My husband and I just returned from Italy on Sunday, Nov. 11. At first after the attack on Sept. 11, I was ready to cancel the trip. My husband the optimist that he is, said not to. I am glad that we we didn't. This was our third trip to Italy in the last seven years. I was impressed with how well received the American citizens were received. We happened to be in Rome on the day of the Peace Rally for the support of New York and the coming togther of Italy and the USA. I am glad that we didn't cancel and went ahead with our trip. It was a wonderful way to celebrate our 30th anniversary. We also rented a car and traveled to the Abruzzo region to visit my husband's relatives. As I said before it was a trip of a lifetime and I would do it again.
Clairton, Pa USA 11/15/01
Flying back from Shannon to the UK on Monday, I was very happy not to be sitting next to a very obviously American man. He had on a NRA ballcap and a Michigan hockey shirt that just screamed "here I am, come get me" to any terrorist who might be around. The military has very good advice about travelling in clothing that blends in with the culture and not advertising that you are American. I stopped him when we arrived in the UK and warned him about being so obvious. He was not even thinking about how he looked. Travel is pretty safe as long as you act intelligently. I'm proud to be an American, but now... very quietly.
to go or not to go
I'm fearful of going on vacation now and leaving my family. I lost my son on 9/11 in the WTC attacks and now fear for my remaining son (who also wants to travel). How do I get over this and live my life and allow others to live theirs? I never thought I would be directly affected by something like this. Statistics mean nothing. Also I worry my son's remains will be identified and I will be away from home.
cranford, nj USA 11/13/01
What do I think about traveling now
Although I plan to travel in the U.S. this December and in May of 2002, I will be going to Europe in September or October of 2002. I just made up my mind that no matter how I felt, I could not let someone take away one of my most enjoyable pleasures. I am 61 years old. When I was in my teens and we would go to the movies on Saturday ( in the 1940s and 1950s, it was an all day affair), they would always have a travelogue as one of the features. Also, I would go to any movie whether I liked it or not as long as it was filmed in Europe. I went to look at the scenery. So, as I said, traveling is most precious to me. It is a lifelong love. I cannot give it up. If I did, I would feel that I was missing something from my life. I will continue to travel, but take precautions, where necessary. To give into fear is not good. You learn to live with what you have to live with and get on with your life. If you don't, you're in big trouble. Thanks for letting me have my say.
New York, NY USA 11/13/01
GO on your trip!!
My husband and I just returned from one week in Europe. We spent 2 days in London (where I lived 4 years ago) and 3 days in Sevilla, Spain visiting his sister who is part of a study abroad program. Before we left, I was very hesitant and a bit nervous, but didn't want FEAR to get in my way to getting back to Europe. I HIGHLY recommend keeping your travel plans and taking advantage of the discounts throughout Europe now. Being abroad was a fresh reminder that life goes on. I didn't feel the media-instilled fear in Europe as I've experienced in the US. The newspapers I read in London reported FACTS, not hype or speculation. This trip gave me a fresh view of the world, the courage to not live in fear, and most importantly, the confidence to continue traveling.
Orlando, FL USA 11/13/01
To go or not to go
Patty and I determined to go with our 24 day trip to Italy. These terrorists want us to be fearful of them. They are just a paper lion, trying to impress their narrow minded followers. Why should that effect us, this is war! So crawl out of your fox hole, and enjoy!
Germantown, TN USA 11/13/01
Here's a mixed bag -- 2 women planning a trip to Italy for 3 weeks in October. One backed out it just didn't feel right; the other one went and had a great time! Both women did the right thing. You have to do what is right for you and pass no judgment on another's decision.
What's it like in Europe now?
Go but be careful. I just returned from a 2 week trip in The Hague to see a friend, who lives there. I had a very good time and felt, for the most part, much safer than at home. Most people were very nice and curious as I live in D.C. However, we went out to dinner in a very nice local resturant, people could hear my American accent, and a man started talking loudly in Dutch about how glad he was that Osama Bin Laden had killed so many Americans. It was very unnerving. I had another man come up to me at the local bar and tell me how he wanted to meet the American girl but hates Americans. Don't get roped into political discussions and try to blend in. We walked right by some angry pro-Taliban Muslims and had no problems as they thought I was Dutch. Keep my mouth shut, didn't bring tennis shoes, jewelry or turtlenecks. I didn't run into any problems at all in the more touristy parts, such as Amsterdam or Delft. I tend to agree with the other post that this may not be the time to travel through the back door.
Washington, D.C., USA 11/11/01
Just returned from 2 weeks in Southern France and Rome. The three of us (my older sister, my 20 year old daughter, and I) had no problems, however, we were uneasy in Marseille on Nov. 1st since many Arabic looking folk were having an anti-war rally complete with banners and handout pamphlets. My daugher, who is fluent in French, realized what was going on and we kept very low key. We did not hear English spoken the entire day in Marseille and we were in the tourist areas. We actually saw few Americans the entire trip but several British, especially in Nice.
Hickman, KY USA 11/10/01
yes - GO!
I just got back from a 2 week trip to London, Blackpool and Paris. I had brief and fleeting thoughts of canceling the trip but I am so glad that my logical side won over. It was fantastic. I felt safe and welcomed every place I went. Europe is definitely prepared for terrorist acts with CCTV, guards and lots of bag checks at historic sights and museums. It was also nice to be so busy and less inclined to watch the news. With all the Anthrax in the news and the threats to blow up the Bay Area bridges in California, I felt sad about leaving such a safe place! As a person who lives in a pretty diverse area, I was still in amazement at the degree of diversity found in London. We ran into the same Muslim family in one day at two different sites in London (maybe they had one of Rick's books!). One of my friends canceled her trip to Italy and just feels regret. My advice: go travel and see the world and if nervous about air travel, get a prescription for Valium for the plane ride (it also helped with the initial jet lag)
Oakland, CA USA 11/09/01
One of the things that struck me when I was in Europe this summer were the military people with guns in the European airports... And since September 11th... there are probably more of them along with other additional security. Europe has lived with terrorism for many, many years -- I wouldn't hesitate to go on a trip or plan one despite the horrific events of September 11th. If you don't, the terrorists have won by curtailing one of the things we pride ourselves in -- FREEDOM. So go, enjoy the people, sights, culture, cuisine and other fine things that Europe has to offer!
Rochester, NY USA 11/09/01
I was so glad after I read your "Traveling On" section from your newest newsletter. I am planning on visiting a friend who is studying in France next March. I was really unsure, like many, if I should continue making plans when we are in the middle of a war and because of the events on Sept. 11th. Thanks to all that wrote, your words were very inspiring. Sometimes we forget that the good people outnumber the bad people in this world!!!
I am still wondering if I should go, but at the same time, the emails
were very encouraging to me. There are many brave travelers from the United
States and I want to be one, too!!
Columbus, OH USA 11/08/01
So glad we went!
Just returned from Italy and were so glad we went. We had made plans for this trip for a year, going to celebrate our 15th anniversary and determined to go ahead with our romantic vacation rather than stay home in fear. The security at the airports here was nothing to be excited about, but not lax either. The security in Milano Malpensa was amazing, three checks including a hand wand over each passenger on the jetway before boarding the aircraft. The best part - fewer crowds and nary a gypsy in all of Italy! We were amazed that at the Metro stops where in times past we saw hoardes of them, there were literally none to be found! By all means - keep traveling!
NM USA 11/06/01
A Backpacker's Perspective
Boarding my bus from Killarney, Ireland on my way to Shannon Airport I heard the shocking and horrific events in NY and Washington DC. After living and working in Ireland for six months, I was en route to the next leg of my trip - Italy. When I got to the airport I rushed to view a TV, and saw the majority of the airport population looking in silence at the screen. Many were crying. At 23 years of age, this was the first day that I felt far away from home, isolated, and alone.
I still flew into Venice, Italy, however, and found accomodation late at night with 10 other backpackers. I was the only American, and yet that evening we stayed up all night talking and discussing the events, our thoughts, and our fears. This difficult night was filled with confusing, contrasting, and severe feelings, but was a night that we respected each other's opinions and listened.
I am now living and working in Rome. I am so happy I am still travelling and experiencing new places, and meeting new people. I am happy to continue my travels because these experiences make me a stronger person. I left the U.S. in March and plan to travel for almost a year. For me, travelling is the best option now, because I am gaining valuable international perspectives from all travellers that I meet everyday.
Over the past few months, no doubt, my emotions have gone up and down
wondering what to do, where to go, and how to feel. These events have
helped me realize how much love I have for my family and friends. I've
written them and told them how glad I am to have them in my life. I am
very excited to see them when I return home for Christmas, and greet them
personally! Until then, I will continue to enjoy my travels to the fullest!
San Francisco, CA USA 11/03/01
Glad we went to Italy
We just spent 5 weeks in Italy, and felt very safe the entire time. We try to blend in as a general rule, but didn't feel the need to hide the fact that we were American, and had absolutely no problems. We were in Milano when it was on high alert in early October and felt perfectly safe. There were polizia and carabinieri everywhere, and a side benefit was that the pickpockets completely disappeared, even at the train station! We're very glad we went ahead with our travel plans, and would encourage others to do so too.
Seattle, WA USA 11/02/01
By all means, GO. My partner and I were in Europe the entire month of September. We were in Venice on September 11th. We learned of the attacks while we were at an Internet cafe sending "We are having a fabulous time" messages. Suddenly, frivolous notes didn't matter. We were stunned. Our first reaction, not knowing if we were safe, was to pretend to be German (we are both blonde). My partner pointed out that my college-learned German would not fool anyone, so we opted to be Canadian for a while. It was totally unnecessary. The Italian people we met were uniformly supportive, caring and loving. The night of the 11th, we went to a little cafe but we were so sad that we just stared at each other and said things like "This is awful . . ." The poor waitress came by three times asking us if we knew what we wanted to order. The third time, we once again had tears in our eyes and she realized we were U.S. citizens (we never got around to trying the Canadian routine). She immediately offered her condolences and told us that she and her friends were all horrified at the events. Support and love followed us throughout Italy over the next weeks -- proclamations condemning the attacks posted in tiny village squares, "strangers" coming up to us to tell us how sorry they were, American flags everywhere and the moving moments of silence on Friday the 14th (we were at the Bargello in Florence). The warmth and love of the people in Italy will be with us always. It would be a shame for anyone to miss that experience because of the senseless acts of September 11th. Jim & Duane, Seattle
Seattle, WA USA 11/01/01
To Go or Not to Go
I just got back from Italy (Rome, Venice and Florence). We travelled from October 3 to 12. We had absolutely no problem at all in any of the cities. The Italians were very sympathetic to the Americans. We had absolutely no problems flyiny. I would definitely say travel now. We had a great experience and loved every minute of it. Rick's Italy book was a great guide for us.
Christine M. Ballentine
Philadelphia, PA USA 11/01/01
We just returned from 3 weeks in Europe. I found it to be the same as always. Very friendly and very safe. There were 6 of us traveling together, in big cities and small towns, we felt very safe. I think it is important to blend into the culture as much as possible when you are traveling. It helps you understand more about where you are and you begin to feel like a part of the community. Every once and a while you can have a bad experience, but this doesn't mean you should stop enjoying your travels. It's a learning experience and when things work out during a trip, that's what really matters. We had no idea there was a war going on anywhere. You truely feel cutoff when traveling in a foreign country. I always thought that was the idea behind a vacation. I have started planning our next trip and plan on continuing enjoying life while I can.
Mpls, MN USA 10/31/01
Cherish your travel opportunity
I just returned from a month in Italy and everything went incredibly well.My husband and two teenagers had never been to Italy and I was nervous due to the circumstances. I am Sooo happy we did not cancel our trip. Rick's guidebook was wonderful,especially the little things he remembers to mention,also his phrase book . I wrote phrases from it often and it seemed like many people appreciated having the question written down. The people in Italy were helpful and respectful. Never did we feel out of place. I can't stress enough how safe we felt in Italy. Please don't cancel your travel plans.
Rick is correct when he says that travel broadens perspective and teaches new ways to measure quality of life. We are back home and I can see these changes in my family, especially my teens.
I read that "American signs of capitalism" may be an attack target in
Italy but I find this hard to believe. When it comes to McDonalds and
Burger King, my experience was that these restaurants are also filled
with Italians whose children enjoy their Happy Meal toy as much as American
Kids! We really enjoyed Rome and found the people to be friendly, many
speak English.It's an easy city to get around and the Metro is wonderful.
Cherish the oppurtunity to travel.
Lihue, Hi. USA 10/30/01
Italian WTC sentiment
In Tuscany in mid October, the 9/11 situation came up unsolicited a couple of times. None were particularly positive. One robed monk-like person in Assisi told me that God was punishing America for exporting land mines. He also said the CIA caused the WTC crashes to give Bush Junior an excuse to go after Sadaam H. A shop owner in Siena told me that the U.S. press was making a big deal out of the events. He said that more than 7,000 people die in car accidents in Italy every year and no one makes an issue out of that.
Lansdale, PA USA 10/30/01
Please, travel on!
Take hold of your dreams, face your fears and go on that trip to refresh your mind and body! Honestly, after 9/11, I told my husband we must cancel our trip to London, Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam for 10/19 thru 10/28. We continually discussed and I still wanted to stay home but when it came down to it, I could not bring myself to cancel those airline tickets and I decided to face my fears and get on that plane! We went and we had the most amazing time. We met some of the nicest people and enjoyed all the joys of travelling. We met many people and not one person was rude nor scared because we were American. We also never felt as if we were in danger, we only felt the loving and open arms of Europe. If you are on the fence about your travels, please go. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain. Travel is a great eye-opener and a fantastic teacher. Without travel we will never learn to respect what is different.
Cherry Hill, NJ USA 10/29/01
I would sincerely urge all USA citizens to consider carefully where
they are planning to travel to. Not necessarily because of issues of safety
but instead because of issues of support for the USA. The US Dollar is the
number one currency on Earth. Do you want to spend it in a country that
is not 200% behind the fight against the terrorists who struck on September
11 ? Spend it in the countries who are actively supporting the USA - Just
a thought and my sincere best wishes to all of you.
Nottingham, UK 10/29/01
travel following 9-11
I love to travel, this fall my daughter and I made reservations to fly to Hawaii, the next day the terrorist struck new york, we keep the travel plans and had a great time in Hawaii, now my son and i are thinking of London, he wants to go this winter, I say after reading your notes on travel following 9-11 in europe im ready to go, I agree if we dont travel, what do we do? sit home and let "them" win??. travel on I say!!
mpls, mn USA 10/28/01
Keep your travel plans!
At first, after September 11th, we thought travel would be dangerous. We are glad to have kept all our plans and enjoyed our 2-week (October 13-27) trip to Italy celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary. We used the Rick Steves Italy 2001 book and we can't express in words how perfect all of the suggestions in the book are. Our first few days in Rome were hectic to say the least. I think we got a weeks worth of touring done in 3 days! Using the book as a guide we were able to tour many sites. In Siena, our stay was perfect. From our room at Albergo Bernini, relaxing at Il Campo, eating at fantastic restaurants, visiting beautiful museums, and the fantastic gothic Duomo, now we know why people say ah...Siena! Florence was fantastic as well. Most of our shopping was done here between visits to the Acadamia to see David, which took our breath away, The Uffizi, Pitti Palace, Ponte Vecchio, and The Duomo. Our best meal was at the Trattoria la Burrasca near the Central Market. Venice was our last city and the most romantic. Our hotel, Hotel Campiello, was terrific. From dancing to the music in St. Marks Square to visiting Murano and Burano our stay was great. We even had time for a Vivaldi concert. Imagine no CNN for 2 weeks. It made for a nice vacation. Everyone we met was sincere in expressing his or her feelings for September 11th. The Italians are the most gracious hosts and we had no problems communicating. If you have plans to travel DO IT! Life goes on. ARRIVEDERCI ! Rick & Kim Spiegel
Rick & Kim Spiegel
Englewood, CO USA 10/28/01
Four of us just returned from three weks in Prague and Northern Italy. What a great time we had. The security is tighter in the States, but it is now what it has always been in most European countries. We felt very comfortable. Our plane leaving San Francisco was only 60% full. Returning three weeks later the flight home from Milan was packed. We felt like we did traveling 25 years ago with so few Americans, it was great for us but a loss for everyone associated in travel and tourist industry. Hotels we were unable to reserve space in 4 months ago we were able to get rooms by asking at the front desk if we decided to stop in that town. Most of europe will be in the "off season" for the winter so it shortened their tourist season a bit, but the europeans are still traveling. It is common to see people walking around wearing T-shirts and sweatshirts with U.S. university logos, american flags etc that don't speak english so blending in isn't difficult except that you probably don't speak the local language. Most Americans we did run into were quiet and unless you overheard them speaking they could have been German or French.
Europe is great! Go whenever you can. There are 50,000 people killed
every year in the U.S in their cars. (140 per day) That's your greatest
risk, but no one stops driving? So why would you not continue on with
S.F, Ca USA 10/28/01
My wife and I were in Paris on 9/11, scheduled to return to the U.S. on 9/13 but delayed til 9/16. At that time, we had a trip to Hong Kong, Taipei & Tokyo already planned for Oct. 1-23. We decided to take the trip and have not regretted it one bit. We did not encounter any longer lines. The extent of the extra security precautions are a mixed bag...some airports more, some same as before. Being a retired couple, we don't fit the profile so we are rarely hassled by security. As for being an American overseas, I don't see any difference. But then we try to blend in with conservative dress both in style and color. To sum it all up, you're just about as fearful as you want to be.
Scottsdale, AZ USA 10/28/01
Travelling after Sept.11
We recently spent three weeks (Sept.24 through Oct.12)in Prague, Budapest and Vienna. It was really refreshing to be out of the US. Aside from newspaper articles, the Sept.11 events and their aftermath were invisible in these cities. The only exception was a student demonstration scheduled in Vienna the day we left and which did not affect us. Aside from heightened security at airports, travel seemed normal and was highly enjoyable. We felt safer on the road than at home.
Seattle, WA USA 10/27/01
Our Thoughts on Traveling in Italy
We had a difficult time deciding whether to go on our 20-day tour of Italy with Rick Steves October 5 - 24, but we went and we're glad we did! We didn't have any problems -- in fact, we felt quite safe and sort of isolated from the media frenzy surrounding the September 11 events in the U.S. The Italians were friendly and sympathetic to us. Our advice is this: GO on your trip and enjoy! Airport security is tighter than ever and the airlines might start cutting flights over the next several months, so we think NOW is a good time to travel. Have fun and be safe!
Lisa and Juan Englert
Cary, NC USA 10/27/01
Lucca in November
I lost a friend in WTC1 and am leaving for Lucca on November 3rd for a family wedding. It will be my first time to Europe and I've always dreamed of going, ever since I took French in High School. I can't let terrorism keep me from my dreams. I won't let it. Tina Boulder Creek, CA (right in the heart of Big Basin State Park)
Boulder Creek, CA USA 10/26/01
I just got back from 3 weeks in Scotland, England and Ireland. I was
overwhelmed by the outpouring of sympathy and support! Not a day went by
that I did not see American flags, flying in front of TI offices, in shop
windows, in pubs, etc. In Bath, England, the local firefighters on their
own time were collecting money for the families of the New York firefighters!
I know each person has to make his or her own mind up on matters like this,
but my own thought process was that if it made sense to go before September
11, it still makes sense to go.
VA USA 10/26/01
Go! We must get on with our lives. Our travel dollars benefit the people working for airlines, hotels, and restaurants; spending money on European vacations helps them during these difficult times. Sure Europe will be there next year, but so will the crowds; if we don't travel, many may lose their jobs this year.
Darren R. Crasto, Houston, TX
There is no hurry to go to Europe. Don't go because the airlines are offering you great deals or because your president of the US says so. Remember, Europe has always been there and it will be there tomorrow anyway. Europe will be there when our children get married, Europe will be there when a woman becomes president of the US, and Europe will be there when there's world peace. Europe has been through two major world wars and colonial conquests of brutality and savagery. Don't force yourself to travel. You have the free will to decide your destiny.
I haven't lost my desire and love for travel. Unfortunately I can't say the same for my friends. About nine of us had decided to attend this year's Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam. This is an event attended by many counterculture type's, so it's not everyone's cup of tea. Never the less, I've always wanted to attend and had registered with the event promotor plus 5 of us had purchased airline tickets when the tragedy of 9/11 happened. Following that, all five who had purchased tickets asked for and got refunds. EVERYONE has backed out.
I'd go myself but I'm disabled and I need one other person to assist me at times. I've plead but in the end the main complaint was that they were fearful of both flying and that tight security precautions would lead to being searched and/or interrogated by customs because of profile stereotyping. I'm hoping that somehow I can find the right kind of incentives to get someone to go with. Maybe reduced air fares, hotel rates or heavy discounting for tour groups.
Again....I know this is a subject that most people would think rather frivolous or dubious at best. But as the song says..."What ever get's you thru the night".
Billy Wilde, Sacramento, CA
My husband and I have cancelled our two week trip to Italy that we planned for early October. We too do not fear that our plane will be hijacked, however we would prefer to tour in a country without having to "blend in" in order to not draw attention to us being American. Sadly I spent several weeks researching and planning what I though was the perfect trip using Rick's books and this website. It took only 30 minutes to cancel the trip via email. Everyone was apologetic and expressed their regret and warm wishes for our country. On a positive note Italy will still be there this time next year and planning will be that much easier the second time around. I am confident that if we had decided to keep our travel plans we would not enjoy the trip for the uncertainties would overwhelm us.
My advice to anyone contemplating whether or not to keep their travel plans: Go with your gut. Right, wrong, or indifferent you have to do what makes you feel the most comfortable.
Good Luck, and Rick, thanks for all of your wonderful resources!
Alyssa Greenstein, Royal Palm Beach, FL
My husband and I have been married for 3 years. Instead of buying each other anniversary gifts each year, we take a trip. This year's trip is scheduled for Europe - England, Scotland, and France.
I have been dreaming of a trip to Europe since I was a little girl. My great-grandmother travelled the world. Every afternoon after school, I would look forward to visiting her as she would tell me stories of all of her travels. Needless to say, when my husband and I were planning this trip, I was estatic! One of my long time dreams was finally coming true. I was so excited that I could hardly sleep at night!
Then, the tragic events of September 11th occurred. I felt my dreams start to crumble. I was no longer excited about the trip. I was scared. I was ready to cancel the trip. Of course, my mother was urging me not to go every time that I talked to her. Then, I read the messages posted by Rick, by fellow European travellers and by our European friends.
I want to say, "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you." You have restored my confidence in the goodness of others. I am not about to let evil people ruin my dreams. I am once again excited! We leave in 2 weeks!
Dana, Dallas, TX
It has been a childhood dream of mine to travel to Europe. Despite my fear of flying I decided to book a trip to England departing Oct. 3rd. I worked every other Saturday all summer to pay for this long anticipated trip. Now considering the recent events, I am truely terrified to fly! Not only am I apprehensive to fly, but I feel guilty going on "vacation" while so many people are suffering. I am so incredibly undecided at this point.
I would really love any words of advice. Thank you.
Jennifer, Hackettstown, NJ
I want to respond to your letter specifically. I too have a trip soon, scheduled before this horrible loss, and although I have traveled a great deal, I have never felt like this before. Despite this, I have decided to continue with my plans.
We cannot let our dreams die, there has already been too much death. We are forever changed by this, it is now part of who we are. So take that with you. Traveling is the opportunity to live with others, to share their experiences, to open yourself and celebrate the differences, the similarities, to understand their point of view. If you choose to take your trip, it may not be the "fun" you might have anticipated before September 11, but it will be valuable and rewarding just the same.
It is a fact of the time. We cannot escape our timewe must live. So also enjoy, let others share their joy with you.
Follow your intuition, make the choices you feel comfortable with, and know that you are not alone in your feeling, whatever choice you make.
To Ann in MN regarding the decision to go or not to go to Italy on her honeymoon: GO! This is a very special time in your life and you should not let any part of it be spoiled by someone else. Don't let your family and friends make this decision for you.
If you make alternate plans for your honeymoon, you will be very unhappy the whole time because you will be thinking "We should be in Italy right now". For the rest of your life, from time to time, you will be talking with friends about "where we went on our honeymoon" and you will always be proud and excited to be able to say "We went to Italy".
Have a great time! You know that once you are there you will have fun - euphoria will take over the moment you walk down the aisle. Good luck!
SR, Austin, TX