Just one day away until American Thanksgiving. Wow, that went fast. This time of year is so inviting. Delicious food in the company of our family and friends — what more can you ask for? On top of it, Thanksgiving marks the start of the holiday season in the US. Such a cozy and heartwarming time.
To us travelers, however, Thanksgiving is also notorious for being one of the busiest travel days of the year. The week of Thanksgiving (particularly the day before!) is infamous for packed airports and delayed flights.
This year, we have the added level of the anxiety that spurred out of the Paris attacks on Friday November 13. The US State Department has issued a worldwide travel alert just in time for the busiest travel season of the year.
This is not the first time this has been done, but what is different about this travel alert is that it’s extremely vague and general. It’s essentially saying, “Be afraid”.
Great, that’s helpful, thank you very much. Talk about adding stress, just before hopping onto a plane with bébé in tow.
The recent attacks in Paris, Beirut, and everywhere else have shaken us all to the core. Many of us were hit much, much too closely. Others are more removed from the events, but still feel a deep concern for what’s happening.
As parents, we have an added level of instinctual fear for our children. What is this new world we are bringing up our kids in? Are we going to fight off the enemy? How can we keep our children safe and sheltered from these events? Can we even do that? What does this all mean for travel?
Honestly, watching television, seeing photographs, videos, and reading articles online is terrifying me. But I am finding a few thoughts that are providing solace, for myself and my family.
1. Looking at history keeps things in perspective.
I was a history major, so maybe it’s just comforting to me, but looking at history really helps me have a positive outlook. Think about it. When you look at centuries past, you realize that we really aren’t living in such a bad time, relatively speaking. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty glad I wasn’t raising a bébé, let alone traveling with him or her, during the Middle Ages!
Strangely enough, it also comforts me to look back just 100 years and think about my grandparents and great grandparents. They lived through some pretty challenging situations. Three out of four of my grandparents are French, so they and their parents lived through the two world wars. Meanwhile, things weren’t so peachy either in the US with the financial collapse of 1929. If my grandparents survived periods of tremendous fear — losing relatives in battle, hiding Jews and fearing getting killed by communist rebel bands in France — then why can’t we?
Many of us have been incredibly lucky to grow up in an era of peace. The notion that our children may not is frightening, but we’ve been through tremendous periods of uncertainty before and survived. We will survive this one, too.
2. “Keep calm and carry on,” the chances are low.
Now I really understand that old British saying’s true significance! If my previous point about looking back at history hasn’t crystallized by now, here’s my next thought. The main reason I travel with bébé is because our families don’t live in our city. So the idea of not traveling out of fear and not seeing my family is enraging. As my husband says, “I don’t like the idea of taking my bébé on a plane, but I like even less the idea of not seeing my family because of those terrorists. And so… We go…”
Yes, the state of the world is definitely not great at the moment, but, as bébé voyage Club member Alexis says, “the truth remains that a car ride on i-95, sitting at my desk all day and living off of an American diet, the flu, and American gun culture are all waaaay bigger threats to my life than terrorism. ISIS is a brutal threat to the people of Syria and Iraq. They want to project that they are a threat to us (the definition of terrorism), but statistically a cab to the airport is probably the most dangerous part of your trip (or deep vein thrombosis, or someone coughing on you).”
At the young of five, I nearly lost my mother to a taxi accident to the airport. The irony of it all is that she had been afraid of flying.
Last Friday, Club member Scarlett traveled from London to Paris on the Eurostar with her little girl. “Can’t stop living” she told us.
And that’s exactly the point. Without trying to sound too “woo woo”, but thinking positively brings about a positive reality. We need to keep moving forward. Plus, the calmer we are, the more vigilant we are.
3. Bringing people together from around the world.
Since the events of November 13, Bébé Voyage’s mission of uniting parents from around the world over travel is ever more paramount to me.
Knowing someone from a foreign country changes everything about how you look at that country and the world. Countries that once might have seemed foreign and strange, now seem friendly and welcoming thanks to that connection.
As we create bonds between the new parents of the world, we strive to encourage people to travel with their babies, and become citizens of this beautiful planet.
For me, the answer is not to stop traveling, but on the contrary, to travel more!
Children who’ve grown up exploring and understanding cultures radically different from their own, almost always grow to be open-minded, peaceful individuals. Wouldn’t it be nice to raise a generation of unprejudiced and welcoming people?
As a French-American who grew up in NY, I have always been aware of the differences between the two cultures of my family. Seems strange right now given the recent events, but even French and Americans have different ways of thinking. What’s more, I realize there are nuances that exist not only between two different nationalities, but between individuals of the same nationality.
Children who are raised intrinsically understanding cultural and individual differences are able to easily mold themselves from one culture to the next.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if all people could have this ability, giving them the opportunity to accept what is “foreign” without judgment. I hope to raise my own bébé with this outlook, so that he may be an open, judgment-free citizen of the world.
So should you travel? Yes, travel on my friends … Travel and getting to know the other is more critical now than ever before.
Thank you Elisabeth, Sarah, and Maeve for helping me get this article off the ground!