With a pandemic in process, should we cancel any travel plans? Thankfully mine aren’t until the fall, and I’m fairly confident that by then this will be under control.
But for right now?Airlines are being more flexible. Hotels, though, are a YMMV. Most hotels have a 24 to 48 hour cancelation policy, but some may be difficult. If you booked through a third party, your reservation may be impossible to change. AirBnB is considering it an extenuating circumstance and requiring refunds — but only if the area you’re going is under an advisory.
Should you Cancel?
The answer is: It depends.
If you are over 60 or have an underlying condition known to cause a high risk of dying if you catch COVID-19, then cancel. Please. If you live in a household with somebody like that, please cancel.
If you’re young and healthy, then consider factors such as the number of cases both where you are going and where you are.
If you are right next to an outbreak, you should probably stay put so you don’t take the virus somewhere it currently isn’t.
Also, bear in mind that travel restrictions can pop up at any time. Now is not the time to book a trip unless it’s several months out. No, taking advantage of amazingly cheap fares isn’t a good idea if you realize you may not be able to take the trip.
What Should You Do if You Go?
If you do decide to travel right now, then you should take more precautions than normal. You should already be wiping down the airline tray table with a disinfectant wipe (please. Those things are gross; just ask a flight attendant).
Wash your hands frequently. This can be more of a challenge in places that lack clean water. If you’re camping, make sure to take plenty of 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer (if you can find it). (Then again, camping may not be a bad idea right now…no other people).
Don’t wear a mask (unless you’re traveling somewhere with pollution or have allergies). Wash your hands.
Seriously consider avoiding large events, especially if you aren’t 100% healthy. Especially large indoor events. Canceling the concert trip of a lifetime may hurt, but two weeks in quarantine or, worse, giving this to an elderly relative, will hurt more.
If you must go to a conference or meeting, don’t shake hands. (Actually, just don’t shake hands right now). Don’t hug strangers. Don’t accept cheek kisses or other similar greetings right now. If people get offended, that’s their problem.
(Heck, don’t hug anyone you don’t live with routinely. I know, some of us are huggers, but…)
And if postponing until the fall is relatively painless for you, do it. It’s more important to cut down the spread of the nasty right now.