Lessons from Orlando: Stay Vigilant

The massacre of 49 Americans in Orlando should awaken us all to the reality that terrorism, and its avoidance, is now part of our lives—even within the shadow of Disney World.

The tragedy we witnessed over live television and through social media this weekend brought home with brutal clarity that terrorism, whatever its source, is more than a European phenomenon.

What happened in Paris and Brussels in late 2015 and early 2016 has happened here, in America’s heartland. We might have expected Times Square—but Orange Avenue in downtown Orlando?

We must learn from this horrific event.

Vigilance is everybody’s business, no matter where or when.

Shortly after the Bataclan massacre in Paris in November 2015, American theme parks warned of longer lineups as they tightened up their screening measures. So did sports arenas and entertainment venues. Airports, already horribly overcrowded, just kept adding to your pain.

What does Orlando, June 12, mean to you?

It means use your common sense, and be vigilant—even when travelling to the U.S. or, for that matter, to any major population centre in Canada, the Caribbean, Mexico, or Brazil.

Avoid crowds, lineups, and anything approaching public demonstrations, especially if you are travelling to the Cleveland and Philadelphia areas, sites of America’s political conventions this summer.

If you’re planning on theme park visits, plan well ahead and give yourself extra time to spend in lineups. Be prepared for security checks in unexpected places. Consider less popular rides or exhibits until crowds at the more popular ones abate. Try less popular hours.

Forego crowded patio restaurants on major thoroughfares in favour of less crowded, more accessible, and indoor establishments. Again, remember Paris.

Keep your focus when sightseeing—and stay out of guided group tours where 20 or 30 people are clustered together. People gawking upwards at steeples or statues make for an inviting target.

If your vacation trip involves travelling less than a day, consider driving instead of flying. The inhumane stress of airports should be avoided if at all possible. What good is enduring four or five hours of being herded about if it ruins the rest of your day once you reach your destination?

Make sure you have proper documentation if travelling out of the country, and be prepared to show it to authorities doing random security checks.

But most important is vigilance. Many communities in the U.S. are seriously adopting “See something, say something,” initiatives on the premise that almost every act of terrorism in recent months might have been avoided or interrupted if someone who had seen something bothersome or irregular had spoken out.

Don’t underestimate your own instincts if you see something that just doesn’t feel right.

You don’t have to stop travelling. But you can’t afford to be an unwary traveler.

 

Get travel insurance before your trip.

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