Many of you have asked me for advice on your travel plans in light of the current coronavirus crisis, so today I want to share with you the exact same advice I just gave to my personal friends and family.
Before now, I’ve been reluctant to post on this topic because I don’t think it’s the role of travel bloggers – or anyone who isn’t a medical expert – to give medical advice. For that, you should check the CDC, the WHO, and your local health authority.
But this isn’t just a medical and public health issue anymore.
As of last night, this thing has also become the greatest travel shutdown of our lives.
And while I’m not an expert on infectious diseases, I AM an expert on travel.
I’ve been traveling the world full time for 4 years. I’ve seen and lived through almost every travel crisis you could imagine (I was once trapped by protests in the Bolivian desert, I was in Egypt right after the pyramid bombings, etc).
Point is – I know firsthand what it’s like to be in a foreign country during a time of crisis.
I also know what it’s like to be severely sick in a foreign country (just last year I was hit by a nasty case of dengue in Thailand).
So, with that preamble, I want to share with you the same advice I posted this morning on my personal Facebook in response to questions from my friends and family:
Here is what I am seeing and thinking about travel right as of today, March 12th:
This thing has moved from the question being “will I get sick if I travel?” to the relevant question now being “will I be able to travel without a very real risk of being quarantined, stuck in a foreign country I don’t want to be in, or endangering others?“
And, honestly, no one anywhere in the world can answer that second question with a “yes” anymore.
I am watching the political situation closely and I strongly believe it is very likely that global flights for non-essential travel are likely to grind to a near halt in the next week. It’s already started and within 48 hours I think we’ll see most countries imposing significant flight bans, or long quarantines for arrivals (as they are doing here in Argentina).
So here’s my advice – the same advice I gave via Facebook to my personal friends and family:
1) Above all stay calm and listen to your local public health authorities – panic doesn’t help anyone. We’re going to be living with this for awhile.
2) If you are at home, you probably should plan not to travel for the next month.
3) If you are anywhere but home, you need to decide if you should stay where you are (potentially for a month or more), or if it is better to go home or somewhere else. If the latter, DO IT IN THE NEXT 72 HOURS. You may not have the opportunity to do so after. This especially applies for international travel, but a domestic travel shutdown in many countries isn’t out of the question at this point either.
4) If you have travel planned for anytime in the next month, you probably aren’t going to make it. If you can get a refund, do it. If something is non refundable, consider waiting and sitting tight for now because many companies are loosening their policies so that may change. And your flight/cruise/etc may get cancelled and refunded anyway.
5) If you have travel planned BEYOND a month from now, HOLD TIGHT unless you’re coming up on a refund deadline. If you have a refund decision deadline (e.g., from an Airbnb), ask if you can extend the deadline.
6) If you want to plan travel for the summer or beyond, you STILL CAN but you need to make sure your flights and accommodation are fully refundable so you have flexibility later. I will be writing a full blog post with step by step instructions how how to do this. To make sure you get it, scroll down to the end of this post and sign up for my newsletter.
I don’t say any of this lightly.
I derive 100% of my income these days from Travel Lemming, so this is going to financially CRUSH me.
It’s not in my economic interest to tell you any of this.
But I think you need to know it.
Travel has to wait for now. Sorry if that’s not what you wanted to hear, but it’s just reality.
We are in this together.
We will beat this together.
I love you. If I can help you, please let me know.