BY ISABELLE BOUSQUETTE
If you had plans to go away for Spring Break, then you might be looking for ways to stay safe while traveling during the coronavirus panic. You might even be wondering whether you should travel at all. The good news is that children seem to be far less at risk of contracting the coronavirus. So if you have plans to go away with the family, don’t cancel right away. In fact, the safety of traveling depends a lot on where you’re going and how you’re planning to get there. There are still plenty of ways to have a fun and safe spring break in spite of the coronavirus. Keep reading for our tips on safe travel.
Here’s our advice for traveling during the coronavirus outbreak this spring:
Think twice about your destination
Right now there are five countries listed under the CDC’s coronavirus risk assessment. These include China and Iran (which have the highest risk), Italy and South Korea (which have the second-highest) and Japan (which has the third-highest). If you were planning to visit any of these countries, you might want to cancel or rearrange your plans.
What about other countries? If you’re traveling during coronavirus to a country without a major outbreak, there’s no reason to believe you’re at higher risk for catching it there than anywhere else. That being said, the coronavirus situation is highly unpredictable. There is a possibility an outbreak can occur while you’re traveling in that particular place, which might affect your travel plans home. If you’re cautious, then you might want to think twice about international travel this spring.
According to experts, domestic travel within the U.S. is probably fine. However, they continue to stress how fluid the situation is. Keep up to date with this map of where the virus has spread in the U.S.
Avoid traveling during coronavirus if you’re pregnant or in a high-risk group
If you’re pregnant or have a compromised immune system, experts recommend that you avoid all nonessential travel. This is especially the case if you’re planning a trip that will take you through a major airport. While the virus is not airborne, you might be at risk from catching it on an airport surface. Surfaces in airports are frequented by travelers and constantly touched, meaning that the safest option for pregnant women is really to stay at home.
Be careful on planes and public transportation
The virus is not airborne which means that getting on an airplane won’t put you in an unduly dangerous situation. The virus is transmitted in two ways: through droplets (from a cough or sneeze) and through touching an infected surface. It’s important to remember as well that not everyone infected will already be showing symptoms. So in terms of avoiding that first form of transmission, be wary of coughs and sneezes, even if the person looks to be in good health.
In terms of the second, it’s worth cleaning any plane surfaces that you might touch (armrest, tray table, etc) with an alcohol wipe at the beginning of the flight. Although alcohol wipes haven’t technically been proven to destroy the coronavirus, they certainly help minimize the risk. The same goes for all forms of public transport.
Consider canceling that cruise
What happened on the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship created panic across the world. Experts thought this might have been an isolated incident. However, it’s now clear that that is not the case. The Grand Princess Cruise Ship is now in limbo off the coast of California after one passenger died of the virus. Many cruise lines are allowing passengers to cancel or rearrange plans without penalty. So if you’re still planning on traveling during the coronavirus outbreak, a family cruise may not be the best choice.
Be careful when visiting popular tourist spots
Popular tourist spots, including theme parks, are a slightly different story. Again, if you think carefully about the geographical location, then visiting a theme park doesn’t put you at more risk than visiting your local grocery store. However, the same rules for public transportation apply: be wary of coughs, sneezes and surfaces.
Keep an eye out for closures and cancellations
Make sure you keep an eye on the headlines and plan ahead. Many destinations have chosen to close or reduce the hours of popular tourist spots. All of Disney’s parks in Asia have temporarily closed and the Louvre in Paris suspended operating (although it has now reopened). The French government has ordered that all public gatherings of more than 5,000 people be canceled; an order which affected the city’s winter half marathon. The London Book Fair was also canceled. Similarly, many musical artists and performers are canceling their concerts. So know that if you are traveling to a sporting event or concert, there’s certainly a chance of it being canceled.
Get travel insurance
If you had plans to visit a travel ban country (China or Iran), then it’s likely the airline will refund you, regardless of your travel insurance policy. The same thing goes if the airline chose to suspend flights to a particular destination, such as Milan or Seoul.
Some airlines, including American, Delta and United are also offering to waive change fees for those who want to rearrange plans due to the virus. However, others are not. That’s why it’s worth investing in a travel insurance policy that will protect you if you decide to cancel your trip.
The problem is that a standard travel insurance policy won’t necessarily cover you if you decide to cancel due to fear of the virus. Because of that, you’ll likely need a “cancel for any reason” policy. These policies can be more expensive and often needs to be purchased within three days of booking your trip. However, because the spread of the virus is so unpredictable, this type of travel insurance may be a worthwhile investment.
Make a judgment call
Ultimately, your decision about whether or not to cancel your spring break plans is your own. If you prefer to play it safe, then it might be a good idea to sit this one out. If you don’t want to let the virus stop you from living your life, then take your trip and just be careful about sneezes and surfaces. There’s some reason to believe that the coronavirus outbreak will let up as soon as the weather gets warmer. So if you decide to put off traveling during coronavirus, you can plan something epic for the summer months!
This story originally appeared on newyorkfamily.com.