How to Travel Safely (and Keep Calm)

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With what seems a steady drumbeat of terrorist attacks targeting tourist attractions and events, travel today can be an anxiety-provoking proposition. In the last two months alone, for example, Britain, often thought of as a safe bet for travel, has been hit by a number of attacks, including one at a concert in Manchester that left 22 people dead, another at London Bridge that killed six people and yet another this week outside a mosque, which killed one person and injured 11.

Given the environment, is traveling safe and even worth it? Experts say yes, for the most part. “Terrorist attacks are a growing concern around the world, but that shouldn’t deter people from traveling,” said Matt Dumpert, a senior director at Kroll, a security consulting company in New York. “The reality is that a terrorist attack can happen anywhere in the world at any time, so staying at home isn’t going to necessarily keep you safe.”

And, as Seth Kugel pointed out in a New York Times column last year, the statistics are on your side. Other causes of death while traveling, such as car accidents and suicide, far outweigh the chances of death by terrorism.

Mike Ackerman, an expert in travel security and the founder and chairman of the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., security consulting firm Ackerman Group, agreed. “The likelihood of a terrorist attack happening when you’re traveling is very slight,” he said. Even so, he acknowledged, “the fear of one, for some people, is very intense.”

Here, some tips on how to travel in today’s uncertain times.

Determining a Destination’s Safety and Staying Safe Once You’re There

Rely on the State Department: The single best way for travelers to find out if a particular destination is safe is to check the State Department website. Mr. Ackerman advised checking it when you are making your vacation plans, then again before your departure to see if the security status of that destination has changed.

Also, Mr. Dumpert at Kroll said that travelers shouldn’t assume that a destination is unsafe if a terrorist attack has recently happened there. “In general, the security in a destination where a terrorist attack has occurred is bolstered following the attack,” he said.

Avoid Tourist Magnets: Mr. Ackerman advised staying away from attractions popular with tourists because these are often targets. They include large museums, buildings offering city views and outdoor markets. “Any place that attracts large crowds is attractive for terrorists to hit,” he said. He suggested visiting smaller museums, lesser-known neighborhoods and other not-so-touristy sights.

What to Do if a Terrorist Attack Happens Near You

Assess What Happened and Seek Safety Immediately: If you hear an explosion or see an attack, Mr. Dumpert advised taking a few seconds to assess the situation. Once you have an idea of what’s going on, get to safety as fast as possible. “You’re more likely to run into trouble if you don’t take quick and decisive action,” he said. If you are in a mall, for example, head for the nearest exit or find a bathroom in which to hide. If you’re in a hotel, consider all exits, such as a service door, and hiding places, such as the hotel’s kitchen. If you are in a crowded area outdoors, run in the opposite direction from the commotion.

Call for Help: Don’t assume that help is on its way. “What we’ve seen from past incidences is that no help is called for several minutes after an attack because people think that the authorities have already been dispatched,” Mr. Dumpert said. Once you are in a safe place, call the local emergency line. In the United States that’s 911; in many parts of Europe it’s 112; in Asia it varies by country — always know what it is. When you reach a person on the emergency line, immediately relay your name and location so the dispatcher will know where to send help if you get disconnected.

How to Have a Relaxing Vacation

Take Care of Your Body: The times may seem frightening, but try to calm down. “Taking time out for yourself is restorative and helps you deal with your daily stresses more effectively,” said Risa Neuwirth, a New York City psychotherapist who specializes in holistic psychotherapy. Wherever you are in the world, whether it’s a big city, a beach resort or a mountain cabin, practice self-care daily. Consider a massage, a yoga class, beginning your day with a 10-minute meditation or engaging in exercise such as a long walk or a scenic jog. “The idea is to release tension from your body, and all these ways help,” Ms. Neuwirth said.

And don’t neglect nutrition. Ms. Neuwirth said that if you are not eating well, the balance of your body is off, and you’re apt to be more anxious.

Try a Digital Detox: Being bombarded by worrisome news can intensify anxiety. Miriam Geiser, a travel consultant with KK Travels Worldwide in Chicago who has planned self-care getaways for clients and has taken several herself, recommends a digital detox, in which you take a complete break from using your cellphone, tablet and computer. “It will be challenging at first, but you’ll feel freer and much calmer by the end of your trip,” she said. She suggested a nature-focused trip where you can go on hikes, bike rides and walks; a national park close to home is always a good and affordable bet. Alternatively, try a resort or hotel in a picturesque setting in a more far-flung location. “Even a few days where you’re not technologically connected will do the trick,” she said.