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What to Do About Travel Plans in the Time of COVID-19

The spread of COVID-19 around the world has changed practically every part of life as we knew it. With various countries in lockdown and enforcing travel bans, how we travel is one of the most affected aspects of our regular lives. No one knows quite how long countries need to be in lockdown, when it’s safe to reopen borders, or which areas of the world might be hit next. For those who had travel plans in place for this year or who were just starting to formulate plans, the spread of coronavirus has created more than a few complications.

Despite the serious consequences of this pandemic, all hope is not lost for travelers. Before the virus, over three million people around the globe flew safely on commercial aircrafts every day. While it might be a long while before that many people travel that regularly, the travel industry will pick up again. In the meantime, there are plenty of things you can do to adjust your travel plans. Let’s take a look at what you should do about your travel plans in the time of coronavirus.

Postpone Nonessential Travel

One of the surest ways to stay safe during this pandemic is to follow the recommendations on the websites of the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and State Department. As of now, the CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential international travel in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As COVID-19 cases have been reported in all states and some areas are experiencing community spread of the disease, the CDC also recommends that you stay home as much as possible, especially if it is a nonessential trip. Not only does travel increase your risk of contracting COVID-19, but you are more likely to spread it as well. If you have a domestic or international trip planned for the spring or summer of 2020, it is best to postpone it for now. You can tentatively plan your trip for this fall, but pushing it to 2021 is an even safer option.

If your travel is essential, you can protect your health by taking all of the proper precautions. These include following the CDC’s advice on washing your hands thoroughly and frequently, wearing a mask, and avoiding crowds. You’ll also need to make plans in the event that your trip is canceled. Be sure that any bookings you make are refundable and that you book directly rather than through agencies. If you’re traveling internationally, you need to prepare for the possibility of not being able to return home when you planned to. Policies and restrictions are changing rapidly to match the severity of the situation in various countries and you may be placed in a 14-day quarantine when you return or not be allowed to return to the United States for a period of time.

Take Advantage of Flexible Rebooking Policies

As the coronavirus has impeded travel everywhere, many companies have eased their cancellation policies. Airlines, in particular, have been regularly updating their websites to reflect rebooking waivers and policy changes. If you need to cancel a flight you booked before coronavirus swept the globe, be sure to check the website of the airline you’re traveling with to see how you can get your money back or rebook your flight for the future.

If you were using another form of transportation for your trip, it is still worth looking into their rebooking policies. Anyone traveling on private aircrafts, such as helicopters and jets, should contact the operator of the aircraft as soon as possible to discuss rebooking options. Those who own a civilian plane or helicopter, the number of which has increased by 38% within the last decade, should still refrain from travel. You may not be in the press of strangers like you would be in a public aircraft, but you still risk contracting and spreading coronavirus when you travel.

If you planned on traveling on a cruise, you will likely need to adjust your trip. Many cruise lines have suspended operations through the spring or summer, as the U.S. State Department issued an advisory on March 8 warning against cruise travel. You can check the cruise website Cruise Critic for information and links to individual cruise line policies.

Keep Your Travel Dreams Alive

Although travel aspirations may seem a bit lifeless at the moment, don’t stop dreaming of where you want to go in this great wide world. You will be able to travel again and see all of the things you’ve dreamed of, it just may not happen when you thought it would.

While you wait out the coronavirus, update your travel bucket list and start planning out how you can get to the places on your list. Use your free time to create detailed budgets and craft plans for how you can afford your trips. For instance, if you are a court reporter and you know that you can make up to $60,000 or $70,000 in just your first year of working, create a spreadsheet and figure out how much of that you can use for traveling in the future. If you don’t make quite enough money to afford the vacation you want, use your spreadsheet to figure out where to cut corners and consider different side hustles to help you make extra cash. Not being able to travel doesn’t mean that you can’t dream and plan to do it in the future.

As we all adjust to a new way of living in the time of COVID-19, we’ll be changing the way that we interact with the world around us. Where you might have once jumped on a plane at a moment’s notice to explore a new destination, you now have to take precautions to protect your health as well as the health of those around you. Just remember that you can still see the world, you just might get there a little later than you expected.


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