Addressing Your Travel Questions and Concerns
After enduring months of confinement and numerous restrictions, it is completely understandable that many Americans feel ready to travel in the near future, especially as many destinations here and abroad begin reopening in phases. Our responsibility as travel professionals is to evaluate the situation and try to answer the many questions potential travelers may ask, the primary one being “is it safe to travel and where can I go?”
Here, in a nutshell, are some answers to the main questions on travelers’ minds that we hope will help you make educated decisions:
Is it safe to travel?
The short and honest answer is NO. However, we just need to add that it is not necessarily safer NOT to travel. All we know is that the Covid-19 virus is still out there, still immensely powerful, and still affecting areas and communities around the world and in the U.S. in a variety of ways and intensities.
Where is it safest to travel to?
Here, the short and obvious answer is—wherever the data indicates lower numbers of positive test results and deaths. It is important to recognize that local health organizations and processes designed to handle the pandemic play a crucial role in making that determination. From our own personal experience, we can attest that in terms of a simple day at the beach on the Jersey Shore, it is safer to go to Spring Lake than Long Branch, in the same way that it is certainly safer to travel to New Zealand than Brazil right now.
When addressing the question of safe places to go to, we need to remember to address the question of how safe is it to get there? How safe is it to fly? Drive? Take a train? Cruise ship?
At present, people seem most confident in the safety of their own car and are seeking drivable destinations. Airlines and airports are taking measures to limit contact with travelers, implementing more frequent cleaning and sanitizing procedures, requiring masks and social distancing, and more recently, requiring travelers to respond to health self-assessments when checking in. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a No Sail order in effect for U. S. cruise operations until September 15 and it will be reevaluated at that time; Canada has issued a ban on cruises through its waters through October 31. Cruise lines are developing new protocols for screening, sanitation, medical capabilities, social distancing and dining options.
Which destinations are open to visitors? Are travelers permitted to enter? Is proof of Covid-19 testing required? Is quarantine mandated? Are hotels/house rental available? Are restaurants/attractions open?
This varies greatly from one destination to another and changes frequently, as evidenced by the number of states recently pausing their reopenings and reimplementing stricter restrictions related to wearing masks and social distancing because of rising infection rates. An increasing number of states and international destinations are requiring proof of testing and14-day quarantines, dependent on where you are traveling from.
If I cancel my trip due to Covid-19 do I get my money back?
There is no yes or no to this question. Terms and conditions vary from one supplier to another, some are regulated, some are not, and all may vary from one day to the next. Cancellation and refund questions needs to be addressed on a case-by-case basis.
Does travel insurance cover my expenses in case of cancellation due to Covid-19?
The short and simple answer is NO. It’s worth considering several insurance versus no insurance options as suppliers try to be more fluid and creative to accommodate traveler’s anxieties and last minute changes. Many hotels and resorts have implemented more flexible cancellation policies. U.S. airlines have largely waived change penalties and many have extended the validity periods to use ticket vouchers.
If you have more questions, we will try to answer them, recognizing that travel remains in a state of flux and the answers one day could be markedly different the next day. We are all in this together. When you are ready to travel again, we will be here to help.
Karen & Wahid