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We've been getting a lot of email from listeners asking if it's safe to travel. Neil's letter is typical. He writes, "My wife and I have reservations for a trip to Indonesia next week, but now we're wondering if it's advisable to go." Neil's not alone in his worries. It's hard to know what to believe about the safety of travel these days, so we asked a team of experts to give us some good advice. Our Expert Travel Safety Trio includes a terrorism expert, a university professor, and a former CIA operative.

Travelers' Aid: How Safe Are You? (10/5/2001)

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The good news is that all of our experts agree flying has never been safer because security it so tight. And they believe the chance of another terrorist hijacking in the near future is mighty slim. Arthur Donahue, President and CEO of Security Management International and a 33-year CIA veteran, explains why.


Granted, random freak accidents do happen - like the Siberian Airlines plane that was blown out of the sky on Thursday. But the bigger worry, our experts say, is what happens when you reach your destination. The concern is understandable. The State Department just issued a warning saying it's "deeply concerned about the security of Americans overseas." I don't know about you, but that's enough to get me on the phone to my travel agent and cancel an international trip. What's the thinking behind the warning?


But what if you're heading for Paris or Montreal, places we don't think of as hot spots of terrorism or military activity? San Jose State University Professor Peter Unsinger thinks there are plenty of safe destinations.


Agreed, it's a time to be prudent. But there's a wave of paranoia sweeping the country, too. This week's fatal Greyhound bus accident and the false alarm highjacking in India get us imagining that every day of travel is fraught with possible disaster. According to Walt Purdy, an expert with the Terrorism Research Center, we need to put our emotional reaction to September 11 in perspective. It will take time to rebuild confidence in travel.


Clearly, we want to feel safe whenever, wherever we travel - which brings us back to Neil. Should he go to Indonesia? As our experts point out, the flight shouldn't be a problem, but the State Department has issued a warning about "extremist elements" and anti-US protests in Indonesia. Our MO is usually gung-ho adventure here at The Savvy Traveler but just now we might advise you, Neil, to postpone Indonesia until things simmer down. Go take an October color drive through New England instead.

If you'd like us to address your travel questions or concerns, send us an email. Or, you can snail-mail them in. The address is The Savvy Traveler, in care of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California 90007. Or call us at 888-SAV-TRAV.

Savvy Resources:

More terrorism information at www.terrorism.com.

Find out more about State Department travel advisories at www.state.gov.

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