This year I've made only one travel resolution. And I do think that it's the most important one of all: Keep traveling.
Obvious and simple, yes. But in this age of increasing terror and decreasing travel abroad, for many it's become harder to keep this resolution than ever. And you (and even I, who do this for a living) can find endless reasons to stay put under the duvet with a glass of pinot on the sidetable, the cat (or somebody) purring next to us, watching Anthony Bourdain traipse around in our place.
But we need to be able to fulfill our lives as best we can. And travel is a big part of that for so many of us.
I'm aware that some aren't comfortable facing even the perception of risk, and it's no fun if you force yourself to travel. Here are two examples of choices made in the face of perceived danger. There is no right answer, so think about what you would have done.
A cruise I took this time last year had the very best itinerary I've ever come across. It started in Dubai, traveled through the United Arab Emirates, then along the western coast of India as far south as Kerela, then on to the Maldives and the Seychelles, Madagascar and along the eastern coast of Africa down to Capetown.
The problem was that for a couple of weeks, this luxury ship -- gleaming with opulence and filled with well-off passengers -- passed through "the pirate zone." (Yes, the same one that Captain Philips was in, and no they did not show the movie.) And it wasn't a joke: the very ship had been attacked in 2008, and still had a bit of a hole in its side to prove it. Back then the crew had held off the pirates with blasts of noise and by outrunning them in circles, and all passengers remained safe with their bragging rights intact, and some even with video of the incident.
Because this was the first time using this route again since the attack, a big percentage of the pre-booked passengers decided on second thought to never even board. For them, there wasn't enough reward for the risk. Those of us who cruised attended pirate drills and pirate lectures and had to turn our cabin and deck lights off at night, but most agreed that it was the best cruise ever, including the pirate phase. So what was the right decision? For me, it was to travel.
Similarly, I flew to Iceland a couple of years ago while a volcano was acting up. My husband and I drove the ring road around it, and most of my friends thought we were crazy. And yet we kept informed with daily volcano reports, and had a Plan B to change routes. And it didn't blow more than a containable stream of ash, and we had a remarkable -- and uncrowded time.
We all have our own comfort zones. But sometimes a fear prevails that isn't logical, yet overtakes huge numbers of us anyway. The perception of terror attacks is one of those fears, keeping people from going to Paris, and Europe, and in some cases, anywhere.
Terrorists and bad guys are not going away anytime soon, and time is passing, and your life is passing. Some people I know are hesitating to travel domestically, or even to board a plane. When will it get better? When will these people get to travel again?
That's why this New Year's resolution goes to all aspects of our lives. If we start recoiling from all risk and we stop seeing the world and understanding other cultures -- and they stop seeing and understanding us -- the repercussions are more dangerous than any one incident. The "other" becomes more strange. Rumors carry. Misunderstandings and prejudices and tensions grow, and the world becomes a truly worse place to live in.
So I'm resolving to keep on traveling in 2016 and beyond, and I hope you do as well, for your own well-being and for the well-being of us all.