Af­ter the Manch­ester at­tack, weigh­ing travel plans.

Vis­i­tor in­ter­est still high, as is the threat level

The Washington Post Sunday - - TRAVEL - BY KATE SIL­VER travel@wash­post.com Sil­ver is a writer based in Chicago. Fol­low her on Twit­ter: @K8Sil­ver.

Liz Bar­rett was driv­ing with friends through the English coun­try­side in North York­shire when she heard about the ter­ror­ist at­tack at the Ari­ana Grande con­cert at the Manch­ester Arena. She was vis­it­ing Bri­tain from Chicago, and was hor­ri­fied by the news.

“It was the only thing on all the ra­dio sta­tions,” she says. Her next stop on the trip will be Lon­don, be­fore fly­ing home from Heathrow Air­port.

With the threat level in Bri­tain raised to “crit­i­cal” — the high­est in 10 years — and sol­diers de­ployed in the streets, Bar­rett says that she is cu­ri­ous to see what is hap­pen­ing in Lon­don and at the air­port. But al­ter­ing her trav­els never crossed her mind.

“We didn’t con­sider chang­ing any plans be­cause, hon­estly, I refuse to give way to those evil id­iots,” she says.

It has be­come too com­mon a con­sid­er­a­tion: to travel or not to travel in the wake of a ter­ror­ist at­tack. Dan Richards, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Global Res­cue, a riskman­age­ment firm fo­cused on health, safety and travel, says that the de­ci­sion de­pends on the in­di­vid­ual.

“I think Eng­land, Bri­tain and most of Europe, de­spite the most re­cent at­tack in Manch­ester, are still very safe,” he says.

Ge­orge Ho­bica, founder of the travel deal site Air­fare­watch­dog.com, says that he hasn’t seen in­ter­est in trav­el­ing to Bri­tain fall­ing off since the at­tack.

“Fur­ther­more, ter­ror­ists fer­vently hope that their ac­tions will dis­rupt the econ­omy and cause peo­ple to live in fear,” he says. “We can’t ac­cede to their wishes, and ev­ery time some­thing like this hap­pens, trav­el­ers keep calm and travel on, as it should be.”

If you have a trip planned to Eng­land, here are some things to con­sider:

If you wish to can­cel, did you pur­chase travel in­surance? If you did pur­chase travel in­surance be­fore the at­tack, and you don’t wish to travel to Manch­ester or nearby towns right now, your pol­icy may of­fer you an out. “Most travel in­surance poli­cies with trip can­cel­la­tion ben­e­fits in­clude cov­er­age for a ter­ror­ist at­tack. This ben­e­fit al­lows trav­el­ers to can­cel a trip if a ter­ror­ist at­tack oc­curs,” says Me­gan Singh, spokes­woman for Square­mouth, a trav­elin­sur­ance-com­par­i­son site. Singh says that for such an event to be cov­ered, it usu­ally must meet these re­quire­ments:

It oc­curs in or near a city listed on the trav­eler’s itin­er­ary;

It oc­curs within a spe­cific time pe­riod of the trav­eler’s de­par­ture date, usu­ally seven to 30 days;

It has been deemed “ter­ror­ism” by the State Depart­ment or the U.S. gov­ern­ment is­sues a travel ad­vi­sory for that des­ti­na­tion.

Some poli­cies also re­quire there have been no re­cent ter­ror­ist in­ci­dents in the same city within a spec­i­fied pe­riod of time. Singh says that some poli­cies will spec­ify how far the cov­er­age ex­tends, geo­graph­i­cally — 50 or 100 miles from the city on the itin­er­ary, for ex­am­ple.

“Some trav­el­ers may not be aware of the dis­tance from Manch­ester to other pop­u­lar lo­ca­tions in Bri­tain. Lon­don, for ex­am­ple, is more than 100 miles away. So in some cases, even if the trav­eler has a pol­icy in place, de­pend­ing on where and when they are go­ing, ter­ror­ism can­cel­la­tion cov­er­age may not ap­ply,” Singh says.

If you did pur­chase a pol­icy, Singh sug­gests call­ing the provider im­me­di­ately to un­der­stand what’s cov­ered and find out what steps need to be taken.

If you wish to can­cel and didn’t pur­chase travel in­surance, start di­al­ing. If you think that the pos­si­bil­ity of an at­tack will cast a shadow on your trip, Richards says you may want to con­sider your op­tions. “The last thing peo­ple should do is travel to a place and be con­stantly fear­ful if some­thing is go­ing to hap­pen. That’s no way to spend a va­ca­tion,” he says.

His­tor­i­cally speak­ing, some air­lines, ho­tels and car-rental agen­cies have re­laxed their reschedul­ing or can­cel­la­tion poli­cies fol­low­ing an at­tack, and ac­tion is of­ten taken on a case-by­case ba­sis.

For ex­am­ple, Bri­tish Airways re­cently is­sued this state­ment: “Fol­low­ing the tragic events in Manch­ester, we are of­fer­ing a range of flex­i­ble re­book­ing poli­cies to peo­ple who are af­fected or who are due to travel to or from the city in the com­ing days. We would en­cour­age any cus­tomers with con­cerns about their book­ings to con­tact us or their travel agent and we will be as flex­i­ble as pos­si­ble.”

United Air­lines is­sued a state­ment by email: “All of us at the United fam­ily send our deep­est con­do­lences to those af­fected by this ter­ri­ble tragedy. We have is­sued a travel waiver that en­ables cus­tomers who are fly­ing to and from air­ports we ser­vice in the U.K. to ad­just their travel plans free of charge.”

Call any busi­nesses you have book­ings with and see if there’s any flex­i­bil­ity in your up­com­ing plans.

If you go, take some ba­sic pre­cau­tions. Richards points out that re­cent at­tacks in Europe have a few things in com­mon: “They tend to hap­pen in very crowded, highly pop­u­lated en­vi­ron­ments, and they tend to hap­pen near fairly well-known land­marks within these cities.”

He shares the fol­low­ing tips for peo­ple trav­el­ing to Bri­tain:

Take a “re­dun­dant” method of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Cell­phone ser­vice of­ten gets dis­rupted fol­low­ing an at­tack or dis­as­ter, and that re­dun­dancy can act as a backup. Richards says hav­ing a phone that can also tap into a WiFi net­work can be help­ful, and so can a satel­lite de­vice. That will al­low you to con­tact friends and fam­ily to let them know that you’re okay, or that you need help.

Weigh the risks when it comes to crowds. As a tourist, avoid­ing densely pop­u­lated ar­eas can be rather tricky — es­pe­cially if a sport­ing event, con­cert or pop­u­lar mu­seum drew you to the city in the first place. Richards says to con­sider your op­tions. “This is the age we live in and these en­vi­ron­ments can be soft tar­gets,” he says. “And they’re not en­vi­ron­ments that can be con­trolled by any se­cure law en­force­ment pres­ence. So you take risks. Are they huge risks? Well, if you’re caught in one of these events, sure they are. But the like­li­hood is still very, very low.”

Be vig­i­lant. Al­ways be aware of your sur­round­ings, Richards says. “That doesn’t mean you need to be sus­pi­cious of every­body or fear­ful of ev­ery­one, but be aware of who is around you and what they’re do­ing.” If you feel un­com­fort­able, leave the sit­u­a­tion and con­tact law en­force­ment.

Have a plan. Wher­ever you go, dis­cuss an exit strat­egy and meet up point with your travel com­pan­ions. It may be an un­com­fort­able con­ver­sa­tion, but it could pro­vide needed guid­ance in case of an emer­gency.

Keep the threat in per­spec­tive. The no­tion of get­ting caught up in a ter­ror­ist at­tack is hor­ri­fy­ing, but it’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that it is also rare. In 2013, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama said on NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”: “The odds of dy­ing in a ter­ror­ist at­tack are a lot lower than they are of dy­ing in a car ac­ci­dent, un­for­tu­nately. The gen­eral rule is just show some com­mon sense and some cau­tion.”

Richards points out that stay­ing home isn’t nec­es­sar­ily safer than trav­el­ing, par­tic­u­larly if you live in a large city in the United States. “I guess you can crawl into bed and pull the cov­ers over your head and you’ll prob­a­bly be safe. But most of us don’t live our lives that way,” he says.

“The like­li­hood that you come down with some sort of food­borne or air­borne ill­ness or are in­volved in a mo­tor-ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dent or slip and fall on the way to the bath­room in your ho­tel room and break your an­kle, all those things are much, much more likely to oc­cur than you be­ing caught up in a ter­ror­ist ac­tion.”

CARL COURT/GETTY IM­AGES

A Bri­tish sol­dier and po­lice of­fi­cer con­fer in Lon­don dur­ing their pa­trol out­side Par­lia­ment last week fol­low­ing the deadly ter­ror­ist at­tack in Manch­ester dur­ing a con­cert by pop-star Ari­ana Grande.Bri­tain raised its threat level to “crit­i­cal” fol­low­ing the bomb­ing.

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