The ease of which we travel throughout the world is often taken for granted. Remember a few weeks ago when traveling anywhere was a breeze? The fact that we could escape our normal lives with just a quick flight somewhere, where we could renew and recharge, is pretty incredible.
However, America is now in a national crisis. Coronavirus COVID-19 has forever changed the world. Millions are working from home. Schools and universities are closed. Public places are empty.
Can people even travel at all now?
Americans have never experienced anything of this magnitude here in my lifetime. Panicked people are hoarding toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and non-perishable foods. Living in the Midwest, I’ve only seen behaviors like this before a huge snowstorm, and I’ve never seen anything to this degree.
As someone who had an amazing Spring Break trip planned to Turks and Caicos, I am now in mourning. I know, I know – it’s definitely a first-world problem. After nine months of planning, preparing, and dreaming of the beach, I had to cancel our spring break plans due to Coronavirus concerns. Just two days before we decided to cancel, I was adamant that I’d be traveling, come hell or high water. I was healthy, I needed a break from the everyday, and I had this trip planned. There were no travel restrictions to where we were headed and we could still fly internationally. Why cancel?
The bottom line is that there were too many what ifs. As quickly as things got cancelled, changed, or as the number of Coronavirus cases increased, so too did my anxiety. We had to evaluate our plans, think through all of the potential problems that could happen. And even if nothing did prevent us from getting to our location, would we be able to enjoy ourselves? Would restaurants be open? Would we be able to buy groceries on such a small island? What if our expectations did not meet reality? Could we be able to relax as the country we’re visiting is trying to protect its citizens from Coronavirus? And the biggest question of all, is whether or not we would be able to get home easily. As quickly as things keep changing and new alerts are coming out, being quarantined or being forced to stay somewhere that isn’t your home is not only scary and frustrating, but it can get costly.
So after being convinced that there were too many what ifs, we decided that this trip of a lifetime would have to be canceled. Trying to vacation, relax, and yet travel amid Coronavirus concerns was just too hard to fathom.
Of course, next comes all of the questions about refunds. Can we even get our money back? Fortunately, most travel companies are understanding at this time and issuing refunds. After all, no company wants to look like the bad guy for not refunding someone amid Coronavirus concerns.
Fortunately, United Airlines was helpful and refunded us our spent miles and fees. Dive shops and excursion companies also kindly refunded our money. As we had planned to stay at an Airbnb, we were issued half of our money and are currently waiting to actually speak to customer service to get our full refund. Companies really can’t fault people who want to stay healthy and not spread the virus in case they’re an unknown carrier.
So, what’s the bottom line?
Yes, it’s incredibly heartbreaking to deal with a lost vacation in a time we so DESPERATELY could use one.
However, if you do decide to travel (or have to):
As we are all going through this experience together and learning how to manage this pandemic, governments continue to enact regulations to protect its people. Mandatory government rules and regulations are popping up overnight. So, if you do decide to go ahead with your travel plans, just be aware that you could be stuck somewhere for an unknown amount of time.
If you can stop for a moment and remove any personal connection you have to travel, family plans or spring break expectations, you’ll realize that nothing like this has ever occurred in our lifetimes. Elderly people are dying from Coronavirus, many are suffering from the symptoms, and others are working harder than ever to care for those suffering from the virus. Having to cancel one trip amid Coronavirus concerns and chaos is pretty minor, in the grand scheme of things – especially if your family is still healthy. However, whenever one’s expectations don’t meet reality, feelings get expressed, and sadness or anger ensues. Be grateful for what you have, learn from this entire experience, and realize you’re not alone.
I’m frustrated and disappointed in the people that are going about life as usual, as well as those that are taking advantage of the cheap flights and discounted hotels. These people that are unnecessarily traveling and going out don’t realize that they could still be carrying the virus and not know it. Thereby, they’re potentially infecting others by taking advantage of cheap rates. We must not think only of ourselves at this time, but we need to try to keep others safe. Amid all these Coronavirus concerns, disinfecting, practicing good hand washing, and staying home is the safest thing we can do for ourselves, our families, our communities, and everyone else around us.
Life trudges on. And one day in the not too distant future, we’ll all be talking about the weeks we self-quarantined, worked from home, got out of school, and sat in disbelief at the state of our current reality.
Until then, I’m grateful for my continued health…
Happy (non) Travels!