Looking for some thoughts on traveling to London. My wife and I were planning to travel to London in February. After the attacks in Paris, my wife doesn't think it would be a good idea. We have three kids under the age of 9 that would not be traveling with us. I wouldn't normally think twice about going, but the thought of something happening and leaving the kids without their parents is weighing on our decision.
The answer is simple........Don't come.
If you've any concerns, best to visit another time when things have improved... I have to assume they will at some point. Would be a shame to spoil your visit to my wonderful city because you're on edge and looking over your shoulder. I personally feel very safe in the tourist hotspots of London, but I'm not not silly enough to think that nothing could happen, because it definitely could, at any time.
Am I going to stay home and not walk around the city I love because I'm worried (if I was), no I'm not, I want to be in London and enjoy all the wonderful things it has to offer... but it's my home, I kind of have to do that... Would I go to Paris at the moment and walk around this weekend? probably not.
London will still be here in 5, 10, 15 years and you can visit then when you'll be free to enjoy one of the best cities on earth.
The thing about London is that when you get there and you realize all the millions of people living and working around such a big place is that even if something did kick off then you are unlikely to be caught in it. I often go into the center with work and think nothing of it even if, when I arrive at Kings Cross, it was where the 7/7 murderers sprang their attack from over ten years ago....and before that it was IRA bombs and before that it was the Blitz and before that, err, the plague or the great fire. In fact things have been kicking off in London since Boudicca.
I'd say the biggest worry you should have is the price of food and drink in the capital...but that's another story!
February is a long time away.
By that time what happened last week in Paris will - unfortunately - be old news.
By that time there could have been another shopping center/church/movie theater massacre somewhere in the US, there will many atrocities all over the middle east and western Asia and Africa, and many other things will be much fresher in our collective minds.
Will there be an atrocity in London before you come? I hope not because I go into London every day to go to work, and I ride on trains. Could there be? Of course. Same as somebody flying a plane into skyscraper or into the ground. Is it likely? No. If it does happen is it likely to be right where you are? No, of course not. In a city of 9,000,000 like London, give or take a million, something as big as what happened in Paris last week would kill or injure 00.004% of the people.
Is it scary, you bet. On Sunday I drove past the scene of where a bus was blown up with tube trains in July 2005. For a moment it was unpleasant to remember but it didn't stop me driving on that road, nor driving into London to meet a friend and have a lovely walk around.
When she told me that she was taking the Tube from Bethnal Green tube station I remembered for a moment that that was where hundreds were killed during the Second World War when a bomb had a direct hit. But it didn't stop either her or me.
Leaving the children at home is difficult. I remember when I was little my mother telling my brother and me who she wanted as guardian of us if anything happened to her and my dad. That was in the 1960s, long before all this terrorism. She was scared of car accidents and being run over by a bus.
So nobody can tell you what to fear, nobody can tell you what to worry about - or not to worry.
The fact is if you will worry yourself sick, London will still be here (mostly as you imagine it) if you don't come, or come in N number of months or years.
But the events of Paris are far too fresh, the scar too sore, to think clearly.
Give it a bit of time, and see what happens else where and then decide what to do.
I expect with 3 months out all your hotel and flights plans are made, and reservations paid for?
This is really a personal choice on what allows you to sleep at night or enjoy your trip. If flying is a source of anxiety, I know a few couples that when they go on trips without their kids, they fly on separate flights. Logically, they know the chances of anything happening on a flight are almost zero, but separate flights gives them peace of mind for their kids.
I agree with those who say not to come if the fear is going to prey on your mind throughout. On the other hand I agree that the actual risk is minimal.
It's a human characteristic that we pay more attention to the dramatic than the mundane so events like Paris effect us. Statistical though there are 3.8 times as many violent deaths per head of the population in the USA than in the UK so you are at greater risk there.
I understand why some people might be apprehensive about traveling in Europe now given all the current issues. I especially understand not traveling with small children. My wife and I are planning to return to London also in February and we are not going to be deterred by these people. Our philosophy is that it will probably be safer due to the heightened security measures that the British are so good at implementing. I think it was 2005 when they had the subway bombing and we were scheduled to take a group of high school students there about July. Even though all that was going on, we managed to take all of them there and on through Europe without a hitch. I remember having to walk more due to some of the tubes being closed. I think that from now on, if you are going to travel there will always be an element of risk. I would not tell anyone to go or not to go, but I am not going to let these people run my life. That is one of the things they want to do.
Thanks - Bill and Pam
BMJ I was in New York 9/11. Problems can occur anywhere. No-one on this forum is going to be able to decide for you. It is solely your decision. You may also want to educate your children privately, as here in England we hear a lot about American children being shot in their schools. It's all about weighing up the odds of anything happening.
Honestly I would go. I am in London right now, and it feels very safe to me. I think the UK security forces are on high alert and there hasn't been any lessening of the tourists in the city. You can wait until you think it is safe, but to be honest, you will probably wait a long long time.
I'm going in Feb. Plan on having a great time. I think it's my 5th time in London. I understand your apprehension but I'm taking a friend for the first time and I am excited to discover the city all over again with him. Dang derned old terrorist ain't gonna stop me. Well not to make light of the recent tragedies but I just don't want to give in to them in some way so I'm keeping my plans and going to plan a fun trip. Got a great deal from Tampa to Gatwick , 647 round trip. Booked a non refundable deal with Premier Inn right in Holborn. I know it's Feb. but I like that time of year there because of fewer crowds. Go when you can because I have always had a great time in London and you will too.
So, bmjkelly, what did you decide?
Nigel writes: "By that time there could have been another shopping center/church/movie theater massacre somewhere in the US." Exactly -- except that there is no doubt about it. In calendar year 2015, the US has suffered an average of one mass shooting every day. "Mass" does not mean a hundred dead each time, and it is a big country, and that figure is an average rather than a constant. But it does mean that frequently someone, somewhere, opens fire at some sort of random target. So: Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide from the risks, or the fears, that come with living.
When we first started going to London, the IRA was the big worry. We were there during several incidents. We were just a bit cautious. We also happened to be in London on 7/7. In fact we were in Paddington station when the bombs started going off (one of the tube explosions occurred between Paddington and another station). It was , to say the least, an interesting day. Would I go back to London today? YES, if I could. And I've visited there more than 40 times in the past 25 years! Would I be taking a chance? Sure. But I take chances every time I get in my car, go uptown, drive past a school, church or temple or mosque, or a business (such as Planned Parenthood) that someone might object to. We also visited Vienna not very long after the attack at their airport (that's really almost ancient history... lol). And our children were very young when we started traveling to Europe and left them with grandparents (10 and 2). We started taking them with us occasionally when they were a bit older (11 and 9 were their ages on their first trips - the youngest had to stay home alone for a few more than his older sister). To us, the risk seemed minimal. It's always a cost vs. benefit analysis thing. Is the risk worth more or less than what I gain from going?