When acts of terror rock our world, the last thing we want to think about is whether our kids are in the middle of it. Just the thought of someone you love being in that kind of trouble can make you catch your breath. And while your heart always goes out to families who do lose loved ones in those situations, there is also often a bit of guilty relief that your family is safe.
It's why the thought of even considering putting your child in harm's way is a hard one to swallow.
So what to do when your kids have the opportunity to travel -- whether as part of a school trip or a solo backpacking adventure? Do you hold them close or let them go?
The answer isn't clear cut but there are some things you should consider as you make your decision:
Get the facts:
Read the terror alert warnings from your government and measure them in context. Talk to people who are in a situation similar to yours (other parents of kids poised to take the trip, parents and teachers of kids who've already taken the trip, the organizers, etc.) .Confront your fears and ask the tough questions. What are the safety protocols that give you comfort? Where are they traveling? What makes you uncomfortable? What are the real risks and what information do you have to support it?
Talk to your kids:
Ask them how they're feeling about the potential travel? Are they nervous? Uncomfortable? Unfazed? Have a discussion where you listen more than you speak. Be careful not to push your fears onto them but also be open to having an honest, age-appropriate discussion.
Remember the reasons independent travel is important:
Travel holds real benefits for young people including increased self confidence, world awareness and learning opportunities. What benefits do you see for your child? What would your hopes be for them on such a trip if terror wasn't front of mind? Are you any less committed to your beliefs in that regard? And if you have wavered, do you have concrete reasons for doing so? You may come out of this analysis committed to your gut feeling that it's not a good idea for them to travel. That's ok, too. It's the analysis that is important.
Don't send them off on a big trip without a discussion about how you'll stay in contact (and how often), remaining aware of their surroundings and trusting their instincts. Have the conversations that prepare them for the world they're heading out to explore. Technology is your friend. Equip them with a cell phone and a sim card that will allow them to contact you (or you them) if you need to. Talk about what to do in case of any emergency -- not just a terror related one.
Let them go without you:
The chance of a terror attack does not decrease because you are beside them. School trips, near or far are an opportunity for independence , learning and growth. Let them go, or don't, but don't water down the experience with your fears or helicoptering. That's not fair to them.
We talk about fears, family and the importance of travel a lot at www.globetrottingmama.com . You can read our thoughts on one school board's recent decision to cancel all trips to Europe and see our recent appearance discussing it on Canada AM here
Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook
ALSO ON HUFFPOST:
Best time to travel: April, May, September, October Average price: $700 to $900 Why you want to go: Even if the Euro scares you more than the U.S. dollar does, Spain is still considered a budget-friendly country with low accommodation costs. "Spain has something for every traveller's needs whether it be a relaxing beach vacation in Malaga, exploring the Alhambra Palace in Granada or visiting the famed Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Spain is also famous for their tapas and you can get tapas and drink for $5," says Rishi Modi of travel deal site Next Departure.
Best time to travel: April, May, September, October Average price: $700 to $900 Why you want to go: For Canadians, Lisbon is one of the cheaper European cities to fly into. "It's a lively city with delicious seafood and cheap drinks. Take advantage of its inexpensive public transit to visit the historic Sintra, go to a winery in Porto and enjoy the Mediterranean weather on a beach in Faro."
Best time to travel: December to March Average price: $900 to $1,200 Why you want to go: Getting to Thailand can be pricey depending on the time you go, but once you're there, everything can fit into your budget. "Food from street vendors and markets costs you $4 to $5 and accommodations can run you as low as $20 a night [depending where you stay]. Thailand has tons of attractions to offer travellers, from trekking in the jungles of Chiang Mai to relaxing on tropical islands like Ko Samui."
Best time to travel: October to May Average price: $900 to $1,200 Why you want to go: Marrakech was named Tripadvisor's number one destination in 2015, according to travellers. "Explore the ancient palaces, shop in the markets of Marrakech and stay overnight in the Sahara desert. Food is inexpensive in local restaurants and street stalls, while accommodations are reasonably priced."
Best time to travel: Depending if you go north or south, you want to avoid cold or rainy seasons. Late December is usually the best. Average price: $900 to $1,100 Why you want to go: If you're an urban explorer or nature lover, Vietnam offers both. "Vietnam is another South Asian destination that continues to be budget-friendly with beautiful sights, including cruising along Halong Bay and visiting the rice terraces. Food is remarkably cheap — a meal and beer can cost under $3."
Best time to travel: April, May, September, October Average price: $900 to $1,100 Why you want to go: If you want to go to Europe and still have spending money, Modi suggests avoiding popular destinations like France and Italy and opting for Eastern Europe instead. "From Hungary to Romania to Bulgaria, these Eastern European countries are rich in diverse culture and its modern and historical architecture."
Best time to travel: April, May, September, October Average price: $700 to $900 Why you want to go: "Peru is known for its geographic diversity, from exploring the vast Amazon jungle to hiking the Inca Trail to relaxing on the beach coast," he says. But Peru’s most famous attraction is the ancient site of Machu Picchu — a must-see if you decide to go to this South American country.
Best time to travel: April, May, September, October Average price: $1,000 to $1,200 Why you want to go: Indonesia has thousands of islands and Bali is one of the most luxurious and popular ones. "Food and hotels are extremely cheap, where you can enjoy tasty meals from $1 to $2 and spend as little as $20 per night on accommodations." However, if you do plan on renting out a villa or eating on Seminyak's main tourist strip, it can feel like dining and living in a major Canadian city.
Best time to travel: January to March; September to November Average price: $600 to $1,000 Why you want to go: If you haven't been to Cuba, you probably know several Canadians who have — the Caribbean island is one of the most popular beach destinations for Canucks. "All-inclusive packages are affordable and offer a bang for your buck. If you’re really flexible, you can often find last-minute cheap deals on flights and all-inclusive packages."
Best time to travel: January to April; September to December Average price: $350 to $650 Why you want to go: We're not saying you should head to pricey destinations like Hawaii or Las Vegas, but some U.S. spots have taken advantage of our falling currency. "Myrtle Beach, Kissimmee, and Scottsdale are starting to offer deep discounts — around 20 to 30 per cent off accommodations, free meal vouchers and discounts off activities. Also, expect major airline carriers alongside the low-cost carriers stateside such as Allegiant and Sprint to offer discounts and seat sales as well." And when you look at your budget as a whole, many U.S. destinations tend to be cheaper than leaving the continent.
Follow Heather Greenwood Davis on Twitter: www.twitter.com/greenwooddavis