So I was flipping through the latest issue of Men’s Health the other day and came across a colorful page that caught my eye. Featuring a map with lots of fun travel-related graphics, the title of the article was “Will a Little Vacation Kill You?”
This is great, I said to myself, expecting to read another much-needed sermon urging overworked Americans to start taking more vacations. According to research from the U.S. Travel Association, about half of us leave unused vacation days on the table each year — with more than 20% not using a week or more of their paid time off.
I repeat, nearly one-fifth of all Americans are losing A WEEK OR MORE OF PAID VACATION each year, simply because they don’t take it. Madness, I tell you.
Turns out that’s not what this article was about, though. It was, just as the title promised, a roundup of all the ways people truly think they could meet an untimely demise while traveling outside the country.
The thought of someone not wanting to travel is foreign to me (see what I did there?) since I can’t imagine anything keeping me from going. Drug gangs in Mexico? Political protests in France? Economic turmoil in Greece? Bombings in Turkey? I visited with eyes wide open, sure, but I still took those planned vacations. Every. Single. Time.
However, there are people out there who let fear — or to be fair, caution — win in the end. But are their fatal concerns really valid? Men’s Health decided to take a look, and the findings are pretty eye-opening.
- Airport security X-rays will fry my insides! Yes they will, if you’re scanned more than 1,000 times a year. Anything less than that is well below the FDA’s annual radiation-dose limit.
- My cruise ship will make me sick! Viruses infiltrating cruise ship water systems make the 6 o’clock news, but only affect an estimated .18 percent of all passengers. That’s less than one-fifth of one percent.
- I’m going to get eaten by a shark! Doubtful. Despite news reports trying to stir up panic, there were only 66 reported shark attacks in 2018. Out of all the beach-goers in all the world.
- Pirates are going to kidnap me! Nah. They do still exist in places like the Singapore Strait, the Sulu and Celebes seas, and the gulfs of Aden and Guinea — but are never really seen out on the open water.
- A mosquito bite is going to kill me! These little buggers are dangerous, no doubt, thanks to their knack for carrying major diseases like malaria, Zika and more. The odds of contracting any of them are still pretty small, but this is one precaution you should take. Load up on insect repellent and get vaccinated, if applicable, when traveling to destinations with large mosquito populations.
There you have it, folks. Taking a vacation is most likely not going to hurt you, statistically speaking, 99.99% of the time. Yet it will likely nurture, heal and thrill you in ways you can’t imagine.
So book that trip, hop on that flight, take that vacation. Just be sure to pack some high-octane bug spray when you do. And maybe drink bottled water in some less-developed countries. No sense spending most of your valuable time off sitting in the loo.