Having both been stranded in Europe for 8 extra days on 9/11 and sick with Swine Flu in 2009 in China, I have learned the hard way to have a “Plan B”. Waiting until a crisis arises makes it hard to come up with a solution. In 2001 when the US airports had an unheard of “ground stop”, I tried unsuccessfully to fly to Canada. However, Canada, with 44,000 US citizens crowding their eastern coastal towns awaiting a way home, was accepting no more American passport holders at that time. An alternate route for me would have been via Mexico, but since I was so focused on just one option I never considered it. As a result, I had no choice but to wait until US flights had resumed.
For my 2009 China vacation, I had researched ahead what to do if quarantined upon arrival in a government mandated facility while my tour and ship literally sailed away! I had not considered, as happened, what if I became sick during the tour. I ended up with such unbelievable chills that I wore my winter coat while perched atop my bed in a chic Shanghai, Luckily, I recovered and somehow made it home.
Here are some practical questions to ask before you head out in 2020-2021. Whether you are an adventurous senior or an active millennial, be sure to take in consideration your own health issues and consider whether waiting a little longer will be safer and more enjoyable in your particular case. (For US based travelers, see the CDC and State Department advisories. For international residents, see also World Health Organization’s travel advisory.)
Here’s a practical checklist of 10 questions to consider:
- In budgeting, how much should you set aside in case your stay abroad is extended because of quarantines, border closings or flight cancellations?
- What restrictions are there at your destination and for returning home, such as required COVID-19 test and/or quarantines ?
- What refunds/credits do your airlines and lodgings offer for their own cancellations or for your change of plans?
- What health protections have been upgraded by your travel providers to cover COVID-19 concerns?
- What travel insurance best protects you, especially to cancel for any reason?
- Does your health insurance cover you if you become sick abroad?
- In case of illness/emergency, can you have access to emergency funds from home?
- What sites will be closed during your stay?
- For a ski trip or other sports vacation or to take special interest classes, like cordon bleu cooking, what changes or cancellations are occurring?
- What is your exit plan if borders start closing again?
The good news is that if you do have a problem arise you can be prepared.