The coronavirus, or COVID-19, has left most international travel at a standstill. People are understandably worried about what what’s going to happen next. We have compiled updates and information on the developing Coronavirus situation, as well as prudent travel advice for what you should do with those trips planned later the year and into 2021.
- Global confirmed cases: 18,660,448; total deaths 702,481; total recovered 11,883,593
- U.S. confirmed cases: 4,911,245; total deaths 160,052; total recovered 2,475,493
- Europe and other countries ease restrictions.
- Many U.S. states are currently seeing rises in case numbers
What is the status of global travel? What should I do with my travel plans? How can I protect myself?
What is the status of global travel?
When it comes to travel advice in the age of Covid, the #1 question we are getting right now is when will travel begin to reopen?
There is no one size fits all to answer this question, but we are beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel. Many countries have taken the first steps toward reopening their cities to domestic travelers, including hard-hit Italy, Portugal, Germany, and several islands in the Caribbean.
There are many things that need to fall into place before we get back to pre-Covid levels. Many expect travel bubbles to dictate where we go in the months to come. Domestic travel is already on the rise, and likely this is where travelers will feel most comfortable when taking their next vacation. When governments pass their final stage of reopening is the time when major airlines and travel companies will be able to begin booking those destinations again.
What should I do with my travel plans already booked?
It’s a safe bet that most international trips will not happen until August at the earliest. There might be some exceptions to this, especially to tropical island destinations, but I wouldn’t consider booking anything further afield before September.
Some say planning a trip one year out is the safest way to start booking again. For trips planned in the fall and winter, I would wait and see how things progress before changing plans. As countries have already begun allowing domestic travel, it likely won’t be long until outside travelers will be allowed in once again.
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Where can I travel?
The situation is fluid and constantly evolving, and we will be updating this article as things progress. What started as the epicenter in China and then moved to neighboring countries, has shifted into the Middle East, Europe, and the USA.
The U.S. Department of State continues to advise citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19.
Travel overseas at present is difficult and not advised. The coronavirus has spread through every continent except Antarctica, with over 175 countries reporting cases. The good news is that countries are rapidly reopening their economies, with travel possible perhaps as early at mid-summer.
A handful of countries, including Iceland, Portugal and a few Caribbean countries, are allowing visitors from the U.S. but with key caveats. In Iceland, for example, tourists are required to present a negative Covid-19 test, or else will be forced to undergo a two-week quarantine.
Some countries are creating what’s called a “tourism bubble”, allowing in residents of neighboring nations. But Italy, France, the U.K., New Zealand, and other top destinations remain closed to U.S. tourists. Timetables for fully reopening their borders remain uncertain, but there is speculation that much of Europe, including Italy and other major destinations, will be reopen to American travelers sometime in July.
What can I do to protect myself?
When things do open up for international travel a primary risk travelers face is getting stuck or quarantined. We saw this play out on several cruise ships around the world, within specific hotels in affected areas, and passengers getting stuck in airports.
Tip: Have at least a loose plan in place if you do get stuck abroad: for work, kids, pets, etc. Better to be prepared!
The most important thing to consider with the risk of travel interruption is avoiding high risk areas. Keep an eye on the areas of the world that contain a high amount of ‘community spread’ which means that people have been infected with the virus, but how or where they became infected is not known, and virus transmission is ongoing.
Air Travel Safety
International and domestic flights are on the rise, with more flights coming back online every day. Major airlines are stepping up to do their part to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus by taking extra precautions to deeply sanitize areas that passengers repeatedly touch or where they sit, stand, or even breath. Airline carriers including American, Delta, Southwest, and United are in close contact with the world’s health organizations at the WHO and CDC, which this month published updated guidelines for cleaning aircraft during the outbreak.
Get travel insurance
We recommend travel insurance on every international trip, but now it’s particularly important. Travel insurance covers a wide range of things from cancellation and trip interruption to medical emergency coverage during travel.
IMPORTANT TIP: You will want to make sure you get travel insurance that covers ‘cancel for any reason’ with regard to the coronavirus, as standard policies does NOT cover pandemics or cancellation due to fear of travel. It’s important to do your homework to choose a reputable company and the insurance that fits your needs.
We recommend TravelGuard for international trips as it’s a solid company with reasonable rates and flexible plans.
Listen to the health professionals
There are several common sense things you can do to protect yourself, the community around you, and your desire to travel.
Practice these tips while traveling and at home:
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60%–95% alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.
- It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
- Supplies of hand sanitizer, tissues, and other hygiene products may be limited, so consider bringing them with you.
Avoid traveling if you are sick – There is simply no better way to help the global community fight any outbreak than by staying more isolated if you are sick. This may mean postponing a trip if you are really under the weather.
More than anything put in place common sense practices to protect yourself and those around you and we will get over this challenge together!