COVID-19: Things you should consider before changing your travel plans
As the Covid-19 coronavirus continues to spread, many travelers may be wondering what this means for trips they have booked. Whether your plans include China, South Korea, Italy, or anywhere else here are some things you should do and consider before changing or cancelling your travels plans.
Check U.S. government websites, set alerts and enroll in STEP
The U.S. State Department is tracking the outbreaks and is updating their travel advisories to let citizens know if trips should be canceled, reconsider or if extra caution should be exercised. These advisories may change quickly, so check back as your trip nears. You can also enroll in the government’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) which will send you updates if the situation in your destination changes.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) issues their own destination warnings designed solely for disease-related concerns. The CDC site also has an entire resource center dedicated to travelers.
Visit the government websites of countries you plan to visit
Check the websites of the countries you will visit even if it is not currently experiencing any cases of COVID-19. Your biggest risk might not be that you will be exposed to the virus, but that you could face travel delays, inspections, and potential quarantine especially when entering a second destination as some countries have implemented restrictions to try and protect themselves from the virus entering their borders.
Contact your airline
Many airlines have cancelled or modified their services. Multiple airlines have waived change fees for travelers with upcoming travel to impacted destinations so visit your airline’s website or reach out to their customer service team for the latest. If you have stopovers or layovers on the way to your destination, you should also visit the website of any airports you’ll be passing through to understand mandatory screenings or checkpoints that may cause delays.
Reconfirm your hotel, cruise or tour
If you have a reservation in a destination with an outbreak you may be offered a full refund or may be able to postpone your trip. Policies vary and are continually being updated as conditions change. You should know that some cruise lines are rerouting their ships. If you are traveling to multiple destinations let each hotel know which other destinations you will be visiting to ensure you won’t be subject to quarantine policies upon arrival (which would be in line with the local government’s policy). In addition to understanding the financial obligations of changing your trip, your hotel can also provide useful insight into what the situation is like on the ground.
Check your travel insurance policy
Much of the above may fall under your travel insurance depending on the type of insurance you purchased. Read the fine print of the policy you bought, and contact your provider for clarification. If you didn’t purchase travel insurance your trip may be protected through your credit card as some cards include it as a perk. Coverage varies so visit your credit card provider’s website or contact them directly for more information.
Consider when your trip is planned
If you’re departing on a trip within the next couple of weeks, follow the above steps to understand what your options are as soon as possible. If your next trip is not for a while do your research and track the situation, but consider taking a wait and see approach before changing your plans. The situation continues to evolve rapidly making it impossible to know which parts of the world will be impacted several months from now.
Pack for possible disruptions
If you decide to travel, pack extras of things that are absolute necessities in case you are subjected to travel disruptions or quarantine. Bring at least 14 days of extra medication. However, you should also check with each country’s policies on extra medication. In case you need refills it is best to have a copy of the original prescription and a copy translated into the language of the country you are visiting if possible.
Make a decision that makes sense for you
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer as to whether or not you should cancel your trip. Consider all of the above, and weigh those hard costs and potential inconveniences against your personal risk, based on your health history and destination. The CDC warns that the risk of contracting the virus may be higher for older and at-risk travelers, though other doctors have noted that ultimately the virus can impact individuals of all ages and health statuses. Contact your primary care doctor to talk through concerns. Note that if you are experiencing any symptoms of the virus such as fever or cough, even if it’s the result of a traditional cold or flu, consider that you may be flagged at checkpoints or asked to be quarantined depending on where you are headed.
Follow general health precautions at home and abroad
Whether you go ahead with your trip or stay home make sure to wash your hands frequently, disinfect regularly touched objects, and take the steps you normally might to prevent the flu.
Contact your Adelman Travel Consultant for more information and help navigating this rapidly changing situation.