One of the best things to do to help the people of Paris is to plan a trip to Paris. This goes for any city that has suffered adversity either through unrest, acts of violence or natural disasters. I’m not saying to hop on a plane or Eurostar this very moment, but give it some good thought.
If you remember New York after 9/11, then mayor Rudy Giuliani urged the world to come to the city. I distinctly remember him saying that it was the best time to see The Producers on Broadway. It took a while but the tourists hoards came back. It became a time when the locals saw that things were returning to some normality. That might be hard now for the people of Paris or Beirut to wrap their head around, but they will hopefully get there with their collective strength and resilience.
Planning a trip to a city or not cancelling one that has suffered a tragedy is a bold move. I use the punchline often that if you do this or not that, “the terrorists win,” but in actuality, I don’t think terrorist groups care or is monitoring an asshole from Jersey who’s planning a trip.
If you want to send a message by your travels, that’s wonderful, but do it for yourself above everything. I have the mentality that there’s plenty of things that can hurt or kill me back home, so might as well continue with my plans. I said that three weeks after 9/11 when I flew to Florida and nearly had a panic attack the night before due to fear.
If you’re going to worry about your safety the whole time that it would ruin your experience, then don’t go or look for a refund. No one will think less of you and you can revisit it another time. There’s no handbook on this, just gut instinct and that first step.
I have had bad luck when I start planning trips. Tragedy usually proceeds my visit. London’s 7/7 bombing, Madrid attacks, the Japanese Tsunami, Istanbul unrest and Boston bombing — all of my visits were shortly after them. Did it give me pause and unease? Of course, I want these cities to be at their best. Eventually, by the time I arrived, things were back to normal.
In our social media era, it seems that hashtagging and charging colors on your Facebook profile page is either the least you can do or the most you are willing to do. Then we throw money at a cause only to find out that the money has been mismanaged.
I just feel that travel is a great way to show support to these cities. It shows that you cared enough to leave your safe life at home to spend money and time in their town despite the negativity. You’ll see results with your actions, rather than just joining a virtual chorus.