This morning I was shocked to see people online asking for advice on whether or not they should cancel an upcoming family holiday. Many were domestic trips involving air travel, while others were international. Their scheduled trips were within weeks and people were still considering whether or not they should go. This is alarming.
One person had stated that they were canceling their trip to Fiji because of the 14-day self-isolation requirement there and was looking for an alternate vacation spot. So then someone commented that the self-isolation in Fiji wasn’t actually mandatory so they should still go there. Seriously people? This needs to stop.
One of the reasons I love to travel with my children is to show them the importance of being a responsible global citizen. Right now, one of the best ways to do that is to stay home. Our individual choices can at times, have far-reaching consequences. Just as litter tossed in the ocean can wreak havoc on a delicate ecosystem, spreading pathogens you picked up in one state or country and drop off in others can devastate vulnerable populations and their health systems. It only takes one match to ignite a fire.
The world is in different phases of the management of COVID-19 and health departments are operating with different strategies. That means that life will look a bit different for people who live in different parts of the globe. Some areas are in a complete lockdown and others are encouraged to go about their daily activities with extra space and hygiene. The most important thing is to listen to the advice of your local public health department, they will not succeed without you. One thing that can safely be applied globally at the moment is to avoid all unnecessary travel such as going on a leisure trip.
If you are still on the fence about canceling your trip, please do it now. It is surprising to see how many people are still considering leisure travel at the moment and the rationale behind it. It really doesn’t matter what your health is like at the moment. Your choice to travel when it is not completely necessary puts others at risk. If you are away from home it is time to head back or make arrangments to isolate in place for several months.
If altruism doesn’t speak to you consider the personal consequences. If you get sick abroad it will not be fun. To be clear I am talking about any type of illness or injury, not just COVID-19.
If the health system is severely overloaded, there will not be enough resources to provide adequate care to you. If you are not critically ill and do not require quarantine, you could wait extremely long hours or even days before seeing someone – if at all. The person who is available may not have the qualification you are accustomed to. You may be put in a tent in a parking lot instead of a hospital bed. You will not be comfortable. You would stay uncomfortable for weeks. You would likely be separated from your immediate family or travel companions. From a financial standpoint, you could get hit with a massive bill if you are lacking adequate travel insurance.
If you think you are young and invincible, consider immigration issues. Some countries are going into complete lockdown which means your short holiday out of town could turn into an unexpected stay. State lockdowns are not outside of the realm of possibility either. Experts have warned that this is something that will be lasting for many months. Are you prepared to live off of your savings for an indefinite amount of time? Flights are being cut left and right and you may have to wait weeks to even find a flight that is going where you need to go. Even if everything else works out, most airports now have intensive screening which will take hours, no part of this will feel like a vacation for you.
In most cases, citizens and permanent residents have been allowed to return (if you can get a flight in) but things are changing rapidly and tomorrow could be a different story. It is especially important to avoid travel if you are not a full-fledged citizen of the country in which you reside. India, for example, has even closed their borders to OCI holders (the equivalent of a permanent resident in the US) which means if you couldn’t get back fast enough when the announcement was made you wouldn’t be able to get home.
You may lose money on your canceled trip, maybe even a lot of money. Maybe even this trip was going to be the trip of a lifetime for you. Take a moment to feel sad and grieve about it. None of this is fair but right now the potential cost of going on your trip is simply too high. Take advantage of the unprecedented cancelation policies and save your flight for a later date.
For now, have adventures close to home! Go hiking, pick up a new hobby, learn a new skill, explore neighborhood trails, learn a new language, have family yoga in your living room and go camping in your backyard. When the dust settles, the world will be waiting.