A Travel Advisor’s Take on Covid-19

It has been a rough week. I think everyone on the planet feels that way. It’s not just isolated to my job, or my industry, every industry feels this week. Deeply.

It has been a tough week for my job. I have had to cancel a lot of plans for people and help others research the risk for their upcoming plans. Mostly I have no idea what the next few days, weeks, or months will bring. However, I am choosing hope and optimism. In ways, that feels like the biggest defiance at this time.

Everyone that has been in the travel industry longer than I have states this is the worst they have seen. I have heard it’s kind of like combining 9/11 with the 2010 Icelandic volcano and Zika from 2016. Which means a lot of concern, a lot of cancellations, and an industry scrambling to keep up. The silver lining, if there is one, is that we’re all scrambling together and trying to find humor where we can.

We are tired but we know this shall pass.

We know it’s a heavy blend of disappointment and financial concerns. While customers are getting refunds and generous exchange policies, many travel advisors are seeing months of pay circle the drain. I know many will lose their jobs, their businesses, their livelihoods. It feels bleak. However, we also have options to fight forward. We all have each other for support.

I think it’s important to take several things into account. Instead of pandering to hysteria, choose informed decisions. Listen to experts at the WHO and CDC, limit your exposure, wash your hands, be courteous.

If I had a trip planned in the next two months, I would cancel. My plans in late May/early June may be cancelled. It’s not that I am directly afraid of getting sick, it’s that spreading the virus is a concern, and I want to respect the risk for others and reduce it.

Here is the thing, other countries are not going anywhere. Italy is not going to be permanently “shut down” nor is Denmark or Spain or anywhere else that is closing borders. I know it’s hard to cancel a trip, but it’s going to be okay, I promise. You will have a chance to travel in the future, it will be just as grand then, and probably more so.

I know it’s tempting to cash in on cheap flights, but understand that there is serious risk that those flights could very well be cancelled and/or you may have trouble getting home. Do you have time off for that? How about money for extended stays? What about international healthcare insurance?

I was traveling in the 2010 Icelandic volcano mess. I landed in Germany and only few days later the volcano blew up. This meant I had to stay in Germany a week longer than planned, which seriously changed my travels onward. Luckily, I was able to stay with family friends, but what if I hadn’t?

In 2013 I got whooping cough when traveling and studying abroad in Italy. This meant needing medical care, an emergency room visit, a doctor visit, and needing to stay somewhere to get well for a few weeks. The same family friends were able to help, but what if they weren’t there anymore?

My point is one, I have been lucky, and two it’s important to know your risk at anytime and make sure you have something to help yourself. As the world is in upheaval the options become more limited. If you think it’s hard just to find toilet paper now, imagine a hotel room at a busy airport when a border closes.

Most importantly is that a lot of respect is needed for each other in the world. We have to acknowledge our global connectivity makes us more vulnerable to diseases spreading. This could be Covid-19, the flu, or many other things. It’s also not just limiting the spread, but care for others as these things happen. Hygiene rules apply, but also being kind, being patient, being aware of your surroundings and supporting your communities.

I know all of this is hard, but we can make it so much better if we all calm down, drink a glass of wine or cup of tea, and escape into a show. I promise Netflix and Hulu have several vicarious travel options.

Stay safe and sane out there. Love one another DAMNIT!

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