The Coronavirus outbreak seems to be peaking right now.
And although it has been devastating for many, it seems to be less so than many models predicted…which is great news. The hard work of medical workers, travel bans, restrictions, and social distancing have combined to keep this under relative control.
As we work through this, one of the next questions for many becomes, “When can I start planning travel again?”.
Or first…”When will we know it is safe to travel again?”.
This show covers a few indicators to watch for that will answer this question, plus a few things to not pay attention to.
Selected Links From This Episode
- WTTC (World Travel & Tourism Council)
- US Department of State Travel Advisories
- CDC (Center for Disease Control) Coronavirus Page
- WHO (World Health Organization) Coronavirus Page
- Travel Insurance “Cancel For Any Reason” Coverage
Show Notes & Timestamps
- The Billion $$ Question, Travel Statistics 00:01:19
- When will we know it’s safe to plan travel again? 00:02:06
- Other things to watch for to let you know 00:03:19
- 3 Indicators you can probably ignore 00:05:11
- Summary 00:05:50
Hello again, welcome to the Safe Travels Podcast. This is Damian Tysdal.
This is the show that helps you get rid of your travel worries so that you can just sit back and enjoy your trip. Today, we’re talking about how to know when it’s safe to travel again.
That’s what a lot of people are wondering, today is April 10th, according to various models we are at the peak of the usage of resources, hospital resources. In general, according to the data, everything should be peaking right about now.
Luckily it seems like it’s not as bad as a lot of the models said, so that’s a very good thing. Obviously, there have been a lot of casualties from this, a lot of sick people, a lot of people doing a lot of work, but it’s really good to know that it might not be as bad as a lot of the models suggested.
But that also leaves all of us in quarantine. Right now, nobody’s planning any trips. Nobody’s going anywhere. Everything’s unlocked down. It is still recommended that everyone is staying home and social distancing.
But, the billion dollar question is, “when is it safe to travel again?”.
How do we know? As things wind down, we’re going to have vacations to plan, we’re going to have family members to visit, might have weddings to attend, and we feel like right now it is still a waiting game to see what happens.
So when do you know that it’s okay to plan something? That’s what we’re going to be discussing today in this short episode.
There are a few different experts to pay attention to, to watch as indicators for when it’s safe to travel again. Plus there’s a few other signs that we can discuss.
I mentioned that it’s a $1 billion question, and that is not an exaggeration. Here’s a few quick stats about the travel industry.
There’s a group called the WTTC, that’s the world of travel and tourism council, and their research shows that travel and tourism globally accounts for over 10% of the GDP. That is a lot of money.
It’s directly responsible for generating one out of every 10 of the world’s jobs, which is incredible, and for eight successive years it has outpaced the growth of the global economy. So travel has been booming for quite a while now.
They also say that international tourism generates $1.7 trillion in revenue, ao obviously it’s big business. A lot of people’s livelihoods are tied to travel. Obviously, we all want to be safe about it.
So let’s talk about when we will know that it’s safe to book trips again.
The broad answer here is “When the experts say that it’s safe to travel again”, but figuring out who these experts are can be pretty tricky.
Let’s talk about three main things that must happen before travelers can return to their trips.
First of all, the State Department must lift its level four travel advisory. On March 19th the government issued a warning to avoid all international travel because of this pandemic. That’s something that’s not done very often.
So obviously it’s very serious and I would certainly want to see that lifted before anyone plans on traveling.
Second, the CDC, the Center for Disease Control should give some sort of “all clear” sign. The CDC normally does not issue travel advisories or restrictions on travel within the United States, but it did for Coronavirus. So it’s quite unprecedented. So once that advisory is lifted, travelers can feel more comfortable in getting back to planning travel.
Finally, the World Health Organization, the W.H.O. should give some sort of thumbs up to travel.
So those are three organizations, or government bodies, that should give the thumbs up before we go. The State Department lifting it’s level four advisory, the CDC giving a thumbs up, and the W.H.O. giving a thumbs up. I wouldn’t necessarily wait for just one of those people to say, “go ahead”…I would wait for all three.
There’s a few other signs that might say it’s safe to travel again, or at least to get back to planning travel
We’ll see businesses start to reopen and offices start to reopen.
We’ll see schools open, although I’m not sure if that’ll happen before summer comes. But when classes resume or when businesses open or when restaurants open, there’ll be a good sign that things are returning to normal.
China has already done so that’s where all of this started and they are getting back to a bit of normalcy.
And Italy is also scheduled to start reopening some of its institutions and businesses and get things back online in early April as well.
Another sign will be when travel agencies start booking trips again. Although you might assume that they’ll book anything that you want to book, a lot of them are hesitant to do so because they know that those trips might get canceled and they might be losing a customer. So many travel agencies are doing the smart thing and just telling people to hold off for right now.
Finally, another indicator is travel insurance…when you’re buying travel insurance. Again, a lot of companies have stopped selling, not only cancel for any reason coverage, but just travel insurance in general.
One advantage that insurance has over some of these other indicators is that they gather large sets of data and they’re able to figure out when it’s safe to take on the risk again.
For example, some travel insurance companies and comparison sites are really just seeing purchases for travel after August, and then even going into 2021.
Finally, after the government bodies and official organizations and some of the businesses around you, it’s going to be a personal decision as well.
I know those that are caring for older parents, or if you are an older person, you’re going to have a different level of risk tolerance than somebody that’s a bit younger or healthier.
The other tempting thing that will happen is when the travel deals start coming out. I’ve already seen lots of travel deals that are aiming for late summer, and later in the year there’ll come a time where a few of these indicators are showing that it’s safe again, businesses are starting to open up, the travel deals get too good, and your personal risk tolerance allows you to say, “let’s book a trip”.
Finally, let’s just talk about a few things that are not signs that it’s safe to travel again.
One would be the reopening of tourist attractions. Basically, they are quite incented to get things opened up again for business purposes, which is understandable, but it’s not really a great indicator of when it’s safe again.
Another sign to not pay attention to are case counts in a specific area. As everybody keeps moving around, that’s when things spread. So just because the specific place that you’re looking to go does not have any new cases, does not necessarily mean that it’s safe to travel again.
And finally, the last group of people that are not always incented to do the right thing are politicians. If they are saying that it’s safe to go, I would still look for these other indicators.
So just the recap. “When will we know that it’s safe to book a trip again?”
I will listen to the State Department of the United States to reduce their level for travel advisory.
I will look for the CDC and the W.H.O. to give a thumbs up
Start to look for businesses to reopen schools to reopen if summer doesn’t happen first.
Watch for travel agents to get active again and travel insurance companies to start selling all of their product lines again.
Take into account your personal risk tolerance and whether you feel comfortable going or not.
But don’t pay attention to reopening tourist attractions, the lack of coronavirus cases in a specific area, or if a politician gives you the thumbs up.
I hope this has been helpful. We’re all trying to figure out when we can book travel again, but I hope this has given you a good indication of when it might be OK…at least a few things to watch out for.
Thanks for listening. Safe travels.