One late evening in Madrid’s Huertas neighborhood, three twenty-somethings spooned fro-yo dinners into their faces while they discussed the current state of the world. As visitors and new and fast friends from Istanbul, Lyon (hi Pelin, hi Tiffany!), San Diego we wondered if there was any one place that is completely safe.

In the weeks before I boarded an Air New Zealand flight bound for Europe, news broke of the Brussels attack. Shortly before that, Paris was under fire. And the terrible news hasn’t let up.

Days after my return, Orlando seized the spotlight. Most recently, my newsfeed has been filled with an outpouring of prayers for Turkey, Dallas, Baton Rouge, the list goes on. Hearts break, communities grieve, the living react with anger, anxiety, the list goes on.

Fear is a natural reaction. Flights are cancelled, destinations crossed off bucket lists; both logical decisions following news of conflict. Internally, we build walls to fortify ourselves from the chaos “over there.”

Life can be so arbitrary sometimes, and on introspective days I think about how much control we really have over our days and why bad, unfair things happen in this world to really good people.

In times of conflict, what do we do?

Choose to keep traveling, I say. Be intrepid, be aware. Trust that there is more good in this world than bad.

Fear has its place. It can signal the need to assess risk and warn us when we might be flirting too hard with recklessness. On the other hand, fear shouldn’t bar the choice to pursue the things that bring you joy especially if travel does that for you, as it does for me.

Because when I stepped off that plane in Europe, I was reminded that there are more kind, generous, open-minded people in this world than those who are not.


Like the locals in Portugal who proactively came to the rescue when I’d stop in the middle of the street or off a train platform with a confused, squinty look, mouth  agape in a silent “Uhhh…”

Or the mutual friend of a friend in Madrid I met for what I thought was going to be a brief afternoon during a local festival. Instead, as the afternoon of tinto de veranos en el parque stretched into the evening, I found myself racing toward Retiro park to comically miss the Midnight firework finale as we sprinted between museums. On subsequent days, I was grateful to tag along to experience a menu del día in Lavapies, dance around to Manu Chao in a packed Plaza Mayor and hunt down some street tacos munchies (you can take the girl out of SoCal…) after a late night of imbibing. (hi Carol!)


On another occasion in during on my final day in Europe, I had no place to stay having miscounted the number of nights I’d be in Berlin. Exhausted from weeks of hostel hopping, I was reluctant to book another shared room and refused to cough up the day-of rate for a hotel room. Explaining my oversight to a new contact by way of yet another mutual friend over coffee, in less than an hour of our meeting I was able to cancel my hostel reservation in gracious exchange for a private room in her cozy yet airy space in Prenzlauer Berg (hi Joanna!).

We both took a bit of a risk having only met the same day, but that’s what travel does.

Simply put, the latest issue of National Geographic Traveler captures this notion best, “Travel teaches us to trust.”