Where will the terrorists strike next?

If he ran into trouble anywhere, Alan Tannenbaum expected it would be in Istanbul, where he visited his son last week. Turns out he was only half right.

Tannenbaum, a trial attorney from Sarasota, Fla., flew from Turkey to France and checked into a small hotel on the Mediterranean coast. On July 14, he found himself enjoying the Bastille Day festivities — in Nice.

He was a little more than a block away from the Promenade des Anglais when Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel allegedly drove a truck through a crowd, killing 82 and injuring more than 200.

“People started screaming,” Tannenbaum recalls. “They were running in all directions, trying to get away.”

Then, only a few hours later, the Turkish government swatted down a military coup. The repercussions of that failed putsch are now being felt by current and future tourists.

A lot of American visitors understand Tannenbaum’s predicament this summer. They may be forced to decide between two potentially dangerous destinations, a dark game of whack-a-mole that leaves them guessing where the terrorists will strike next. Or they must choose between canceling a planned vacation to Europe and losing part of the cost of their vacation, or traveling despite the danger, and possibly placing themselves in harm’s way.

“Horrific things can happen anywhere,” says Pauline Frommer, the editorial director of Frommer’s travel guidebooks, who says Europe is no more dangerous than the United States, which has had its fair share of terrorist incidents recently. But, she adds, “Obviously, I would cancel a trip if all-out war broke out.”

How safe is it, really?

The State Department has issued a flurry of recommendations for Americans traveling to Europe. The most serious is the July 15 warning of increased threats from terrorist groups throughout Turkey. It notes that foreign and U.S. tourists have been “explicitly targeted by international and indigenous terrorist organizations” and urges American citizens to reconsider travel to Turkey. That’s a nice way of saying: stay out of Turkey, and cancel your trip if you can.

Following the France attack, the U.S Consulate in Marseille issued an emergency message, and the U.S. embassy in Paris released a security message to remind U.S. citizens in France to maintain “a high level of vigilance” by exercising caution at large gatherings, and taking the appropriate steps to bolster personal security.

“’Safe’ is a somewhat relative term, and often depends on a wide array of factors within and outside our control,” explains Frank Spano, executive director of The Counterterrorism Institute, a nonprofit organization based in New York. “Travelers must maintain a thorough understanding of the threat, a heightened sense of awareness in their surroundings, and be willing and prepared to act with determination and commitment if necessary.”

Put differently, no one can really say if a destination like France, Turkey or any other place in Europe is safe — or not safe. It depends where you’re going, what you’re doing, and perhaps most importantly, when you’re going.

A way out

For nervous visitors, the options are limited. Francesca Burack, a professional speaker who lives in New York, decided to cancel a trip to Istanbul after the coup. “It’s not a good time for an American solo female traveler to go to Turkey,” she says.

Burack used Delta frequent flier miles to pay for her ticket, but when she called the airline for a refund, it charged her a $150 redeposit fee. Burack thought she had a good case for having the fee waived, since the Federal Aviation Administration issued a notice prohibiting flights to Turkey. She asked a Delta phone representative if she could appeal the fee to a supervisor but was told “there wasn’t one.”

She adds, “That’s hard to believe.”

Burack’s dilemma is playing itself out across the airline industry. If a flight is canceled, she would be entitled to a full refund, no questions asked. But if she cancels her ticket before the airline cancels the flight, the normal, highly restrictive refund rules would apply.

Unless, of course, those rules change. Turkish Airlines, for example, loosened some of its change rules for reservations made through July 20, allowing changes to be made without a fee. It also canceled flights to and from the United States through July 18.

Travel insurance can help, too. Many travel insurance policies allow consumers to cancel their trip if there is a terrorist incident at their destination within 30 days of their arrival. An attack like the one in Nice would qualify as terrorism for certain policies, but there are significant restrictions, and a traveler can’t buy insurance after a terrorist attack and then file a claim.

“Consumers who want to be able to cancel their trip at their discretion may consider purchasing a cancel anytime policy, which allows travelers to cancel their trip for almost any unforeseen reason,” says Daniel Durazo, a spokesman for Allianz Travel Insurance.

A policy that lets you cancel for any reason will refund a percentage of your trip, but it can cost significantly more — anywhere from 8 to 10 percent of your trip — than a standard policy with named exclusions.

Traveling anyway

Even with the danger and uncertainty, some travelers are sticking to their plans. Deborah Anthony, a nurse practitioner from Dallas, is planning to visit Europe alone this summer for a Mediterranean cruise. Even this summer’s airport bombing wasn’t enough to change her schedule. In the end, her cruise line decided to skip Istanbul, but that still hasn’t deterred her from traveling to Europe.

“My husband and I are planning a trip to France next year,” she says.

International travelers who are doubling down on their itineraries are considering extra precautions, which include buying insurance, paying closer attention to the State Department warnings, and registering through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which allows the government to track and notify Americans abroad. And they’re considering using a travel agent, who can help them navigate the ins and outs of a cancellation, says Steve Loucks, a spokesman for Travel Leaders Group, a Minneapolis-based travel agency network.

“Despite the increasing frequency in terror attacks around the world, the overwhelming majority of travelers will never experience what those in Nice, Istanbul and other high-profile attacks did,” he says, noting that he is planning to visit Europe himself later this year. “There is no foreseeable way I would consider changing my plans – the only exception would be if the State Department flat out said, ‘do not travel there’.”

That’s how Tannenbaum, the lawyer who had a scrape with terrorism and a military coup, feels about travel, too. More or less. He’s urged his son, who works for an organization that provides aid to refugees, to make arrangements to leave Turkey.

“Bottom line,” he said. “Visit Nice.”

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirportParkingReservations.com

With nearly 20 years in the industry, over 128 airport covered in the U.S. and Canada, and over 1,000 Hotel and Parking Partners-we provide travelers the best options on how to get to the airport when flying. Whether you want to; drive yourself and park near an Airport (Airport Parking), stay the night before your flight at an airport hotel and leave your car (Hotel and Parking Package), or take a shared Shuttle/Private Car/Limo to the Airport- we got you covered. The best deals can be found online, and booking a reservation has never been easier. You can explore all of our options by visiting us at AirportParkingReservations.com, ParkSleepFly.com, AirportParking.com, and ShuttleFinder.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Generali Global Assistance

Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for more than 25 years. We offer a full suite of innovative, vertically integrated travel insurance and emergency services. Generali Global Assistance is part of The Europ Assistance (EA) Group, who pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and continues to be the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, delivering on our motto – You Live, We Care.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by G1G.com

Since its inception over three decades ago, G1G has continued to revolutionize the travel insurance industry by being the only aggregator to operate a customer portal, placing all of the user's primary needs in one place. We have continued to innovate and disrupt the market by reimagining the way travel insurance can be delivered to the end user in ways no competition can. Simply put, no one knows the market as well as its founders and no one else shares G1G values and mission.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

VisitorsCoverage is one of the world’s most trusted providers of travel insurance for millions of global travelers in over 175 countries. Working with top-rated travel insurance partner providers, VisitorsCoverage’s award-winning search, compare and purchase technology simplifies the travel insurance process and finds the best deals for the coverage you need to explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at VisitorsCoverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Send this to a friend