London is one of the most popular cities in Europe and has largely been a major tourist destination for quite some time. Tourists flock here for a look at Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Tower of London, and St. Paul’s Cathedral. But recent terrorist attacks have left many outside of The City wondering if traveling here is safe anymore.
While what has happened recently is nothing short of frightening, we as tourists from other corners of the world should take a cue from our British friends. The fact that London is still bustling and carrying on tells us very much about our safety there. It seems that in spite of the horrors, that Londoners are refusing to let cowardly acts of terror tear down their city or their spirit.
That being said though, it’s wise to take precautions should you be traveling to London for business or pleasure. According to the website of the Metropolitan Police, being aware is of utmost importance because terrorist groups tend to target crowded places such as landmarks as well as government, military, and economic areas.
And while that might leave you trembling with fear, just remember that any place in the world is prone to something terrible happening at any given moment. We can’t all live our lives paralyzed by the potential for tragedy. When we let terror scare us, they win.
What you can do when you travel anywhere is be aware of your surroundings at all times. Just like you’d watch out for pickpockets, be on the watch for anyone that looks suspicious. Additionally, here are some other tips that will keep you safe while you’re in London.
Be alert on public transportation
It’s a good idea anyway to know your surroundings in case a fire should break out, so when traveling on the tube, take note of the exits and fire escapes, and don’t ever sit alone in an empty carriage. Find one with people in it. On the bus, sit close to the driver should you need to exit promptly. Plan your routes in advance and have a secondary route planned as well just in case. And wherever you are, if you see someone acting aggressively, get away as quickly and discretely as possible.
Watch for odd behavior
While it’s a little harder for a visitor to London to discern, there are certain behaviors that stand out as being suspicious. You might not be familiar with London, but if you see someone unusual taking notes of entries, exits, stairwells, and other things they have no right to be concerned about, it’s definitely not normal behavior. If you overhear anything dangerous that could be linked to some kind of terror threat, report it immediately. In London, the emergency line is 999. You can also call the Anti-Terrorist Hotline: 0800-789-321.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has said that there will be an increased police presence in the city. This is a good thing and shouldn’t be a cause of alarm. More police officers on the street means more vigilance. Its just one more resource for keeping the public safe.
How to handle the worst case scenario
We don’t ever want to think of it, but it’s best to know in advance what to do should something unthinkable occur again. Should shooting or explosions occur in your immediate vicinity, run as fast as you can if there is a way out. If not, the Metropolitan Police advise you to hide. Don’t be concerned with belongings. Work with others that are there with you to escape or hide. Keep in mind that bullets can penetrate brick, wood, and metal so get as far away as you can into a building if the suspects are outside and call 999 immediately. If you have seen the suspects, try to provide as much detail as you can to the police.
Don’t live in fear
The London attacks were truly horrible. It left Londoners crying as well as those of us in other places of the world. But to be fearful of traveling to a majestic and historic city such as this only allows evil and hatred to win in our world. Terror can happen anywhere at any time and it’s important that we live our lives and embrace all that life has to offer before our time is up.
While London is under a more severe watch these days, it is still very safe to travel here. But just as you would with any new place, don’t take your surroundings for granted. Be vigilant, aware and know how to react in any emergency situation. Statistically though, it should help you to know that you’ll likely never have to act on this safety information and that travel to and from London hasn’t been halted, meaning it is considered a relatively safe destination even now.