It’s time to cancel your summer vacation.
COVID-19 cases are off the charts. Europe is off-limits to Americans. States are closing off access to attractions, beaches and parks. And experts say you’d be crazy to travel on during the pandemic.
Oh, I know: a travel agent and a travel columnist telling you not to travel is straight-up blasphemy! But here we are. The substitutes everyone thought were OK, like staycations and quick road trips? Also unsafe. That’s left many travelers wondering: What now?
It’s difficult to understate how the coronavirus has changed the way we travel. But a new survey by Azurite Consulting comes close. It notes that 36% of Americans won’t take another international flight until there’s a vaccine. For domestic air travelers, it’s 30%, and roughly a quarter of respondents say they won’t stay in a hotel. And 25% of respondents say they’ll never cruise again.
There’s scientific evidence that unrestricted travel can spread coronavirus. But canceling your summer vacation is a personal decision. You have to weigh a lot of factors.
Howard Clauser, a retired English teacher from Chicago, had planned to go hiking in the Swiss Alps this summer.
“I wasn’t concerned about contracting COVID-19 on the hike because, of course, we’d be trekking in the wide-open outdoors,” he told me. “What worried me was that if some of the passengers on the transatlantic flight decided not to wear protective masks, I’d be vulnerable – a risk that, at 69, I didn’t want to take. So I canceled.”
Good call. Shortly after that, his tour operator canceled. Then Europe banned Americans from entering.
Loretta Rosenberg canceled her summer vacation, too. She planned to visit her family in New England this summer.
“But Vermont and Connecticut had quarantine restrictions in place,” says Rosenberg, a retired geriatric care manager from Lake County, Florida. “Also, I did not know if family and friends would feel comfortable visiting with us.”
She adds, “I think that travel anywhere is too dangerous.”
I agree. I planned on traveling to California this summer. I wanted to visit Los Angeles again with my kids and take them to the beach. But with California’s COVID-19 cases soaring, I’ve decided to stay isolated in North Reno, Nevada – at least for now.
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Even the compromise – the quick road trip “staycation” – is a bad idea, according to experts.
“This is not the summer for a spontaneous road trip,” says Dr. Jaimie Meyer, an infectious disease specialist and associate professor at Yale School of Medicine. Meyer says some people may still choose to travel, but should not do so without “careful, detailed planning.”
The biggest problem is not knowing what will happen. What if COVID-19 gets worse when you’re there? Will you get stuck in your hotel or vacation rental? Can you even make it home?
“The overarching concern is quarantine,” agrees Loren Siekman, a business development specialist for Pure Adventures, a tour operator based in Scottsdale, Arizona. “It’s a lack of information, inconsistent communications about border openings and applicable quarantines. Nobody wants to be stuck in quarantine.”
That makes even a quick trip across the state line a big risk. Too big of a risk. And that’s why people are canceling their summer vacations.
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Vickie Sullivan, a small business owner from Tempe, Arizona, says the uncertainty, the risk, and the lack of reward all add up. She just canceled an extended driving vacation to the East Coast. She had hoped to beat the Arizona heat, but the thought of dodging closures and quarantines made her rethink her plans.
“How much fun is this really going to be?” she wondered.
Answer: absolutely no fun.
Sullivan is staying home in the Phoenix suburbs, where blistering hot days are interrupted by spectacular monsoons. Hey, at least it won’t be boring.
But this summer isn’t really about fun. It’s about fixing our COVID-19 problem. Truth is, vacationing amid shutdowns and quarantines is an act of pure selfishness. It doesn’t just endanger your life, but could potentially spread more sickness and prolong the pandemic.
I love to travel as much as anyone. But this summer, I’m staying the (expletive) home.
If you miss travel, you can stay home and get a similar experience.
Catch a good travel movie or read a travel-themed book. Check out Under the Tuscan Sun or Lost in Translation or reread Jack Kerouac’s “On The Road” if you need to feel like you’re going somewhere without actually going anywhere.
See a museum virtually. Have you checked out the latest virtual museum tours? You can check out everything from the Getty Museum in Los Angeles to the British Museum tour. They’re interactive and contain narrated audio explaining the exhibits. In some ways, it’s better than being there in person.
Plan your next trip. Destinations are offering immersive experiences that take you there. For example, Miami has everything from virtual shopping tours to NASCAR races. By the way, this is a great time to explore and plan for your next vacation. COVID-19 won’t last forever.
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