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I’m sure most of you are sick of hearing about the coronavirus. I know I am! But the reality is that folks in the travel community are impacted by it, whether we like it or not. Going on a cruise next month? I’m sure you are having second thoughts right about now. Flying to Italy in the summer? You may not be able to.
Even domestic travel isn’t immune to all the uncertainty. I’ve seen one person mention that a week ago he cancelled his trip to Japan. He lives in Seattle. If someone told me last month that Northern Italy would be on Wuhan-style lockdown in March, I would think they were crazy. Yet here we are.
But life goes on, and most of us don’t have an option (or desire) to hunker down in our houses and wait for the time when the virus is defeated once and for all.
My kids go to public school and I have no doubt that if there is a widespread outbreak in Florida, my family will get infected. Why lose sleep over something I can’t control? Oh, that reminds me, I need to go to the store and get some toilet paper before local Doomsday preppers clear out the shelves.
On a serious note, if you have plans to visit Disney in a few weeks, maybe reconsider. We know someone who works as an ER doctor in Lake Buena Vista area, and she is getting extremely nervous. When you mix various nationalities within close proximity of each other, it’s a recipe for disaster as far as virus transmission is concerned.
Defining “non-essential” travel
Last week, my parents flew to my state of Florida from Eastern Europe. They had a connection in Frankfurt, and it made me slightly nervous due to the fact that Germany is currently seeing a big jump in cases. In my head I knew that the chances of them catching the virus at the airport were extremely low. Still, the thought did cross my mind.
They went to Miami area first to stay with my mom’s friend, so I was kind of happy that we wouldn’t see them for 10 days. I figured if they picked up the virus in Frankfurt, the symptoms would show up soon.
But then it occurred to me, my mom’s friend would probably get ill and she is close to 70. She has kids and grandkids who love her. So I felt like a dog. Obviously, we didn’t plan it this way when I booked airline tickets last year. Still, if anything happens, I will certainly feel responsible.
Despite potential risks, the thought of cancelling their visit never even crossed my mind. For one, the airline tickets were non-refundable, and Germany isn’t listed under Level 3 CDC alerts. Of course, Lufthansa just announced that it will be cancelling a good portion of flights in the upcoming weeks, so we may have to get my parents’ return tickets at the last minute.
Fortunately, that’s what frequent miles are for. I’m sure I can put something together if necessary. I hope I won’t have to but once again, I have zero control over the situation. So why worry?
My parents haven’t seen their grandkids for close to two years, and canceling the flights over small chance of catching the virus seemed over the top. Of course, I did talk to them about taking wipes and hand sanitizer, and being vigilant about keeping distance from anyone who appears sick.
Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about my dad too much. As an anti-social germaphobe who has a mild case of OCD, he is turning this whole “social distancing” suggestion into an art form. My mom said that dad was embarrassing her at the airport by jumping three feet away from people and walking circles around them. Hey, better safe than sorry! I knew his OCD would come in handy someday.
Even though traveling during such a time is his worst nightmare, he never mentioned backing out. He misses his family and was willing to do whatever is necessary to get here.
We are hoping to take them to St. Augustine and Kissimmee. I’m not changing most of my plans as of now, though will likely skip Legoland. The goal is to avoid big crowds and keep us all safe, while still having fun.
I didn’t bring my parents all the way from Europe just to sit at my house, located in a rural part of Florida. Especially since the number of confirmed cases in the state is very low (for now).
In my recent post, I’ve mentioned that we probably won’t cancel our trip to Japan unless there is a Level 3 CDC alert issued for the country. I’ve been obsessively checking recent news alerts, hoping things don’t escalate. Well.
The other day my husband went to the doctor and was diagnosed with having diabetes. He wasn’t prescribed a medication (yet) and was encouraged to change his diet. Unfortunately, diabetes is one of the risk factors for COVID-19.
So, this whole time I was obsessing over travel alerts, I should have been focusing on feeding my family a healthy diet. My husband is relatively young and doesn’t get sick often. Still, this is a big concern, obviously. I’m personally leaning towards scrapping Japan, while my husband wants to go as long as the outbreak is mostly contained.
Ultimately, it’s up to me, and I tend to err on the side of caution. CDC alerts are there for a reason. We still have a few months to see how this whole thing plays out, but it’s not looking good. Who knows, by then Japan might ban visitors from US. Now that would be some irony.
Following Japan Travel Reddit forum, I’ve noticed two prevailing attitudes. One is: “I’m going to Japan no matter what and you should too. Nobody can stop me. Yeahaww!” Hmm, people may have medical conditions that put them at greater risk of complications. They might be taking care of elderly parents at home. They may be required to self-quarantine for 14 days by their job with no pay. It’s not that simple, dudes.
The opposite one is: “Everyone should cancel their trip. It’s irresponsible to travel during such a time. So what if you lose $5k?” Once again, it’s not that simple. Some have been saving for years to go, and if travel alert is at Level 2 or lower, it’s their decision on whether to pull the plug.
I don’t think it’s reasonable to demand for someone to cancel their trip when there are 500 or even 1000 cases in a country of 130 million. Yes, things can escalate quickly, but that’s true for any place right now, including your hometown.
The importance of being flexible
This virus outbreak has taught all of us not to get too attached to travel plans. And honestly, it’s not like there was ever a guarantee before. Kids can get sick, natural disasters may occur, and so on and so forth.
Last August I had to scrap my trip to Costa Rica at the last minute due to hurricane. My father-in-law was dying at the end of December, so we had to cancel our family vacation in the Keys. Few years ago, I missed my flight to Aruba due to a car accident on I-4.
In travel, just as in life, you have to go with the flow. Control what you can, and don’t worry about the rest.
Welcome to travel reality of 2020. Buckle up, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride! That said, we should all take a deep breath and resist getting caught up in all the hysteria. Yes, this is a very serious issue, but so is managing diabetes which is far more likely to kill you in the long run.
Readers, how have you been affected by Coronavirus?
Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.