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Why I’m Still Traveling During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Coronavirus travel covid-19

As the new coronavirus is making waves around the world, more and more travelers are wary of planning globetrotting adventures. It’s understandable. Very little is known about COVID-19 and its quick spread. There’s no vaccine, and it’s uncertain where we’ll see the next outbreak.

Every day, new countries report cases of the disease, and it’s become a public health emergency in some popular destinations, such as Italy, South Korea and even in some parts of the United States.

Not to downplay the situation—it is quite serious—but I’m not letting it stop my travels. Here’s why I’m not canceling my plans in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.

Have questions about coronavirus travel? Head to FlyerTalk’s comprehensive Coronavirus Page

I’m Not Traveling to Heavily Affected Countries

Six months ago, when nobody had even heard of the novel virus, I booked a trip to Sri Lanka. As of March 8, Sri Lanka has registered just one COVID-19 case since the public learned of the virus.

However, my scheduled itinerary on Korean Air included a layover in Seoul, South Korea, which has registered the most coronavirus cases outside of China, where the virus originated. In fact, South Korea confirmed between 367 and 600 new cases per day over the last seven days (at the time of writing), according to the World Health Organization. As a result, many airlines have canceled flights to the Land of Morning Calm.

Although my specific flight hadn’t been canceled about 10 days before departure, I called Flying Blue, whose miles I had redeemed, and requested to cancel it myself. I was more concerned about being quarantined somewhere for transiting through South Korea and, perhaps, not being let into Sri Lanka or other countries. The agent on the phone let me cancel the flight and waived the cancelation fee.

I then went ahead and booked a new flight on Qatar Airways using American Airlines AAdvantage miles. Even though I altered my routing, I didn’t want to back out of the whole trip.

I’m Not in a Vulnerable Age Group

As a woman in my early 30s, I’m not at high risk of developing a serious illness. The disease seems to affect the elderly (mostly those over the age of 70) and people with weakened immune systems or other underlying medical conditions, according to the Los Angeles Times. Again, I’m not trying to lessen the seriousness of the situation, but my chances of dying from COVID-19 are small.

I Work Remotely

On the off-chance that I’m exposed to the virus or get sick, I can self-quarantine for 14 days. I work remotely and don’t have to go to an office where I could infect my colleagues. When I’m home, I rarely leave my apartment anyway, so my hermit lifestyle actually is a plus in this situation.

Additionally, no one in my immediate family is in a vulnerable age group. It would be ill-advised to travel and come back to relatives with low immune systems, but that’s not the case for me.

I Will Take Preventive Measures

No, I will not be showing up at the airport in a hazmat suit—just imagine going through TSA wearing that thing—but I do plan on practicing personal hygiene more than usual. Sure, I wash my hands in my day-to-day life, but I have caught myself focusing on washing my hands more often, longer and more thoroughly lately.

According to the WHO, avoiding touching your face is an important preventive measure against COVID-19. Because the virus can enter the body through the nose, mouth, and eyes, face touching is a big no-no. This preventive measure is harder to adhere to than most people think, but it’s imperative to try.

To strengthen my immune system, I plan on getting plenty of sleep and eating oranges for a few days before the trip. Although studies have been inconsistent whether vitamin C actually helps prevent a cold, it can’t hurt, can it?

Social distancing is another big one. Between security lines, waiting areas and boarding procedures, it’s difficult to keep the distance of 3 feet from a person who’s coughing or sneezing, as per the WHO’s recommendation. Still, I can avoid handshakes and other regional greetings to avoid close contact with someone who potentially has the virus.

In Conclusion

At the end of the day, to travel or not to travel during a public health crisis is everyone’s personal decision. I think focusing on sanitation, using good judgment and avoiding the most affected areas is really all I can do. Virus or not, I want to see the world.

ericb63 April 3, 2020

As of April 3: 1,072,860 cases 56,904 deaths. Keep flying girl!

aethelwulf March 25, 2020

"Why am I still flying?" Because you're an idiot.

chavala March 22, 2020

Wow! Way to go with an really inappropriate article flyertalk! I'd love to hear back from this "author". Maybe she's already dead.

mattr12 March 19, 2020

What a selfish idiot. Oh by the way.. have fun in Sri Lanka ! https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-southasia/pakistan-urges-calm-as-coronavirus-cases-surge-sri-lanka-stops-flights-idUSKBN2150QY

boxedlunch March 18, 2020

Wonder if many of these comments will age well...