Americans, Why Do We Hear “Stay safe” Instead of “Bon voyage” When We Leave The Country?

Americans, Why Do We Hear “Stay safe” Instead of “Bon voyage” When We Leave The Country?

NOTE: There are many generalizations in this post. There are exceptions to every generalization that I’m making here. 


Over the past few years, I’ve noticed something about traveling overseas that I don’t like. And it’s not being overseas. It’s what happens to me in America before I leave.

If I’m taking a trip to New York or California or Texas, these are the statements I hear before I leave: “Have fun!” “I love Texas.” “New York is amazing.” “Enjoy the sun in Cali!”

In the past couple of years, I’ve also been to Italy, Ireland, Spain, Gibraltar, Andorra, France, and Morocco. Before departing for each of these countries, a few people like my family and other travel bloggers told me to have a great time and gave recommendations for what to do and where to go. Everyone else, even people who I consider highly informed global citizens, said, “Stay safe.”

Orvieto, Italy

“Stay safe.” As if I had told them I was going to one of the most dangerous places in the world. As if I had said I were going to try bull riding or sky diving.

I’ve never been sky diving. I’d never try bull riding. The most dangerous country I’ve ever been to is my own.

I live in the United States.

I’ve visited 13 countries.

So if you’re going to tell me to “stay safe” when I need my passport, I’d appreciate the same wish everytime you say good-bye to me in America. I probably need the safety vibes more here at home.

Tangier, Morocco

There are 163 countries listed in the Global Peace Index, which studies how peaceful the world is and ranks countries against each other on how peaceful they are. The numbers below are their rankings with country 163 being most peaceful and country 1 being least peaceful.

For the purpose of this post, I’ve condensed the list to all the countries I’ve visited that are in the latest Global Peace Index, from most peaceful to most dangerous.

162 Denmark

161 Austria

157 Switzerland

156 Canada

152 Ireland

148 Germany

146 Belgium

142 Poland

139 Spain

125 Italy

118 France

117 United Kingdom

73 Morocco

61 United States of America

Out of 163 countries ranked by the Global Peace Index, 102 are safer than the United States. 60 are more dangerous.

Yet I find more and more Americans are afraid to travel. Or they find travel useless. Or they just don’t understand why I would leave our marvelous country.

Barcelona, Spain

Well, fellow Americans, our country isn’t so marvelous.

Even before using the Global Peace Index to study the facts, I’ve known that I feel safer overseas than I do at home. I’ve felt that way for at least a decade. With each gun violence tragedy we see here, that feeling grows stronger.

I was lucky to be born in America during the 1980s. For about half my life, I truly felt America was marvelous. But for the latter half, I haven’t loved it nearly as much.

Yes, there is much to be grateful for here in America. But there is so much to be worried about too.

And as my Dad always says, “It’s what’s after the “but” that counts.”

I don’t know how we are going to solve gun violence in America. But I do know that we should look to more peaceful countries as role models. Isolation breeds closed mindedness and hatred. Travel and opening our eyes to the world help us see that people, no matter what color or sexual orientation, are just people. People that we can love and honor. We are all connected and we would do well to remember that.

So maybe next time an American friend joyously tells you that she is going to Iceland, the most peaceful country in the world, try saying, “Bon voyage!” Or at least, “Have fun and be careful!” As in, have fun, but not so much fun that you get drunk and fall off a cliff.

County Clare, Ireland

Where do you live? Where does your country rank on the Global Peace Index? What do you say to loved ones when they are about to go on a trip? Let me know in the comments below! 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *