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The coronavirus (COVID-19) has all of us feeling a little on edge these days, as we watch and wait to see how the situation will develop in the US after seeing the devastation it has caused in China and now parts of Italy. This feeling is heightened if you have travel plans in the next few months, as the situation seems to be changing so rapidly with the first US death being reported today.
No one wants to give up their hard-earned vacation, but obviously, we also want to stay safe and healthy if it isn’t safe to travel. I wish I had all the answers for the best course of action as far as travel is concerned, but as someone who has a major trip booked in May, here are the things I’m focusing on, rather than giving in to fear and panic.
Check travel advisories and sign up for travel alerts
You can sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive travel alerts for any upcoming destinations. It’s best to check out travel advisories before you book, but if you’ve already booked a trip to an area that you’re concerned about, you can use the travel advisories to help you determine whether you should change or delay your travel plans. You can view this helpful map of all countries showing you travel advisory levels. I use this often when looking at potential destinations as it is updated daily.
Read the fine print and do not delay buying travel insurance
Especially now during the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, you will want to purchase a policy with a “cancel for any reason” provision. Keep in mind that you must often buy the insurance within a short period of time after booking your tour/trip (usually within 30 days), so don’t delay buying the insurance for the best chance of getting the provisions you need.
Travel Insured International is the company we are using for our upcoming trip in May. With the global travel environment still fairly unstable and constantly changing, it’s hard to know what the next few months will bring, but it’s reassuring to know that with this policy we can receive a 75% refund for the cost of our trip if we do end up needing to cancel.
Check with your airline, tour company or cruise regarding their change and cancellation fees
Right now, some airlines like Alaska are suspending ALL change and cancellation fees for a limited period of time to help those affected by the spread of the virus. Delta is waiving change fees to affected areas like China, Korea, and Italy. Our upcoming tour is with G Adventures, and one thing I love about them is that if you do need to cancel your trip, they will credit your deposit toward a future trip with them (with no expiration date). Check out their Current Promotions and Specials!
Focus on what you CAN control
Work to keep your immune system strong, get plenty of sleep, exercise regularly and WASH YOUR HANDS often! One natural remedy that is NOT recommended for preventing and treating COVID-19 is elderberry, so keep that in mind (it is still beneficial for the regular flu, though).
Also, contrary to what you might think based on all the media photos, the CDC does NOT recommend wearing masks to prevent being exposed to COVID-19. They only recommend mask wearing for those with apparent symptoms (or those caring for someone that is ill). Hand washing is the primary line of defense, so keep that in mind as you travel and go about your daily life. Avoid the disgusting price-gouging of alcohol-based hand sanitizers and opt for natural anti-virals like colloidal silver or this.
One last thing to keep in mind – try to keep the whole situation in perspective. The regular flu actually claims many, many more lives than this virus has (or likely ever will). Regardless, COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on China and we all hope they are able to stop its spread soon. It remains to be seen how the rest of the world will be impacted, but in general, the fatalities are being seen in those of advanced age and/or those with pre-existing medical conditions.
If you don’t have underlying health or lung issues and are in the younger age bracket, you should have less cause for worry and will likely recover if you contract the virus, but we all need to take every precaution possible and not put ourselves or others in danger.
If you’re not traveling, it might not be a bad idea to stock up on non-perishable food items to tide you over for a few weeks just in case, as it does seem that this may be the effect we will feel the most as some states like Hawaii have seen runs on grocery stores and supplies. My personal opinion is that shortages of certain food items may impact many of us in the US more than any chance of direct exposure to the virus.
My thoughts and prayers are with all of those who have lost loved ones or currently have friends or family with the virus. My prayer is that this will all be old news very soon and that we will quickly see an end to the fatalities.