While some countries are opening up and welcoming visitors, others are reporting record daily numbers of COVID-19. It’s obvious that there are certain places you want to completely avoid for now, but the question many people ask is, should I travel right now?
There’s no easy answer to that question, as it really depends on the situation. Where you plan on going and how you get there can also play a factor in your decision making. What I can tell you is that I’m ready to start travelling again (I’ve got a stay booked in July), but I’m taking certain precautions and you should too.
Keep up to date on quarantine rules
Every province, state, region, country etc. have different rules when it comes to self-quartine. Here in Canada, quite a few provinces still have a 14-day quarantine rule in effect. In the Atlantic provinces, they just created a bubble so you can travel within their borders, but you still need to self-isolate first.
Many Caribbean countries have also started to welcome visitors, but some require you to prove you’ve tested negative for COVID-19 in the last 5 days and you have travel insurance. Don’t forget, when you’re coming back to Canada from any country, you need to self-isolate for 14-days.
It’s critical that you understand the quarantine rules wherever you plan on heading. For example, Hong Kong has a self-isolation rule for 14 days, but it can’t be with family or friends. That means you need to stay at a hotel for two weeks without leaving. If you’re not a resident, you need to pay for that hotel out of your own pocket. If you didn’t know, Hong Kong hotels are small, so you definitely won’t be living the life of luxury.
Is flying safe?
This is where things get a bit complicated. Right at the start of COVID-19, I was already telling people that airplanes have never been cleaner. I flew back from Los Angeles in early March and I’d say 90% of the passengers were wiping down their seats. Even the flight attendants were spraying disinfectant as an extra layer of cleanliness.
It’s true that many airlines will be getting rid of their no passenger in the middle seat rule soon, but I don’t see that as a major red flag. Every passenger needs to wear a mask now, and there’s no food/drink service anymore which limits interaction between people. You also need to pass a temperature check before you’re allowed to board.
These procedures won’t guarantee you won’t be exposed to Coronavirus, but I would argue that I would feel safer on a plane compared to the beaches that have been packed recently or a restaurant patio.
I’m not suggesting you get on a flight right away. In fact, I advise people to avoid all non-essential travel. However, if you need to fly, I think it is relatively safe to do so.
Plan for the future
I fully recognize that until there’s a vaccine for COVID-19, not many people will want to travel, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t plan for the future now.
Some experts initially predicted that the cost of flying will go up due to enhanced safety measures. I personally don’t think that will happen as airlines will just scale up their operations as needed. I believe now is the best time to book a flight since there have been quite a few promotions going on.
When it comes to hotels, there have been discounts from the start. Many hotels dropped their nightly rated\s and some of the big chains had promotions where you could get discounted gift cards. There were also some incredible promotions where prices were as low as 50% off.
There will be people who won’t book anything right now out of fear, but the trick is to make reservations that are 100% refundable. Both airlines and hotels are being very generous with their refund policies. You could easily book a trip for later in 2020 or even 2021 at a huge discount knowing that you could get a full refund if you need to cancel.
Go ahead and travel now
I feel pretty confident about booking a trip right now, but based on the above, I’m only travelling within my province. I see this as a good thing as I’ll be exploring a few different destinations that I’ve always been interested in.
I’m also being a bit selective about where I’m headed. The first trip I plan on taking is to Muskoka. I booked a hotel where I know they’ve taken many steps to address cleanliness. I’m also sure that they’re operating at a lower capacity so it’ll be easier for me to social distance.
While it would be great to fly to British Columbia, my wife just doesn’t feel comfortable getting on a plane at this time and that’s what it comes down to. If you’re still getting anxiety about travelling or catching COVID, then don’t do it. For those who decide to travel, make sure you’re following all the guidelines so you can help flatten the curve.
So, should you travel right now? I think you should, but take all the necessary precautions and make sure you’re only booking travel that’s fully refundable.