a beach with palm trees and blue water

Believing that Coronavirus is already in your local community, or will be soon is almost freeing. It is, it will be. If it’s already at home, what’s scary about going away, when authorities deem it safe?

Make no mistake: the vast majority of airlines cancelling flights to Coronavirus infected destinations are not doing so out of an abundance of caution for health and safety, they’re doing so because they are being bled dry by low demand. We all created a world where 10% of global jobs are based around tourism, and shunning our back to it when danger is everywhere is irresponsible.

Most decisions affecting Coronavirus in the travel world thus far are based on financial losses due to dwindling demand, not fear, panic or any of the other things the CDC or WHO says not to do.

The world needs travel; countries, individuals and businesses depend on it, and since Coronavirus has reached every far reaching part of the globe anyway, it seems crazy to let xenophobia and fear win.

Millions more people will suffer from a lack of travel than they will from Coronavirus, and when governments open borders and deem it safe again, travel is essential.

If you’ve been watching the news, and let’s be honest, the news loves Coronavirus – you’ve probably seen headlines stating that people have contracted COVID-19 without traveling. If there’s anything the experts agree on, it’s that the Coronavirus is going places.

If you live in or near a major city, it’s probably in one of your grocery stores, pubs, movie theaters or gyms. That’s no more fear mongering than anything you see on the news, the difference is that these are things you can personally relate to, and not big-bad-scary things far, far away.

Xenophobia is pretending that it’s only impacting Asia or Europe and that people and cases there are somehow different.

It’s incredibly stupid. It’s in America, it’s in Australia, it’s in South America and really – just about everywhere and it’s spreading fast. And yes, it’s expected to go even further. But no more fear – the news is plenty good at that.

a man selling food at a street market

Unless you plan on living in an underground bunker, eating canned peaches for the next 6 months and touching nothing but Purell bottles while watching 24 hour news, you might as well be brave and go enjoy yourself, or at the very least – consider it when the world opens its doors again.

Yes, for healthy, adventurous travel types, there hasn’t been a greater opportunity in budget; or luxury travel since the financial crisis of 2008.

That doesn’t mean travel today, but don’t give up on travel this year, or early next.

People are freaked out, hotels are empty, so are airplanes, and prices are plummeting.

But most importantly, we the greedy travelers created a world based on tourism, and it’s irresponsible to shun it, once health concerns go.

Millions, even billions of peoples lives and wellbeing are at stake, and that has nothing to do with infection.

Bottom line: only you can decide whether going out into the world is too risky for you and those around you, or when it will be safe enough.
When you do decide to travel, opportunities are simply vast and the welcome mat is on full tilt.

More than 300,000,000 people globally depend on travel for their livelihood.

Flights are already down 33% on the year, with even business class between Europe and the United States hovering at a mere $800 round trip on top airlines. Even then, airlines are cancelling flights due to dwindling demand.

Hotels in all parts of the world, which regularly fetch $250 are $100, and those that were pushing $500 are in the $250’s. There’s even availability to use points!

Supporting travel brands is one thing, but supporting local economies is far more important. Even if you can’t travel, get take out from a local cafe, or help a neighbor.

Travel has been the fastest growing sector for nearly a decade and many countries became all too reliant on the tourism trade. We all wanted to see the world and to handle demand, economies based on tourism became a savior of the people.

a dock on a beach

If risk is everywhere, why hide at home once things cool down? Places need visitors, and dialog between cultures helps to kill the worst thing of all: fear of the unknown.

Think: guides, taxi drivers, restaurants, airport workers, hotel workers and more. Airlines are already sending staff on unpaid leave, so think to yourself what those in less financially secure parts of the world, or less corporate jobs are faced with.

From Europe to Asia and everywhere in between, including the USA, people from all realms of tourism are being forced to shutter their doors or take leave. For many, that leaves few opportunities to remain financially afloat, or even survive. It makes a bad flu sound a bit less significant.

If markets rumbled over the outbreak, imagine what would happen to the world if default rates and debts skyrocketed due to mass unemployment across the globe? Travel related jobs accounts for over 10% of the world GDP, employing more than 313 million people.

Believing that Coronavirus is already in your local community, or will be soon, is almost freeing.

If it’s already at home, what’s scary about going away? It’s in the UK where I am writing this, and in New York and California where I’ll visit shortly, once travel bans lift. And Tokyo too.

a bridge with a street light and a mural on it

Fears of being quarantined are legitimate, and for that reason its best to wait, for now. Again, you can do your own risk assessment, but 30 days from now, the world should have a much clearer picture than it does today.

This isn’t for the faint of heart, but if you’ve done your own assessment and feel so inclined, the world desperately needs open travel and billions of people around the world depend on it.

I, for one, plan to see as much of the world as I can later this year. When demand is low, opportunity is high, and I might as well take advantage of the 50% off sale on world travel. It’s the only thing that can make you “richer” after all.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Totally agree. I ignored the hullabaloo over the H1N1 and know of no one that was affected. The big thing is aerosols. Stay away from sick people, close the lid on the toilet, and wash your hands. This thing is a nothing burger.

    Diarrhea and vomiting are both common with norovirus AGE, so both the use of toilets by infected persons and the toilet disposal of feces or vomit by other persons could produce norovirus bioaerosols.

    Another important viral pathogen is the SARS coronavirus (SARS CoV), which is known to be shed in both feces and vomit. A number of studies (discussed below) have suggested that it can be spread by the airborne route, and, although not presently a common disease, it has demonstrated its potential for explosive spread and high mortality.

    Novel influenza A virus H1N1 has also demonstrated some important epidemiologic features that indicate a potential for airborne transmission via toilet plume.

  2. Hi

    Its not so much the virus. Its the thought of being quarantined for weeks away from home.

  3. It’s not so much the virus itself which is preventing travel but the consequences of being caught up in a country clamping down on free movement and placing people in quarantine to stop it spreading. It’s airlines halting flights potentially leaving people stranded. It’s the worry about losing out financially if a breakout occurs and you need to cancel. It’s arriving at a destination only to learn the city is in lockdown with nothing open.

    1. totally agree..cancelled Hong Kong trip for the same reason – as all public events cancelled and many places including restaurants closed – whats the point to go? to stay in the hotel?

      1. Again, that’s Hong Kong. One of 5/6 key breakout areas. What about Indonesia, Thailand, India, Bhutan, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji or anywhere else in the area with lower instances than anywhere in Europe or the US?

        1. Where the next breakout is unknown. Italy came from nowhere. If the situation was static then people can plan but it’s an ever changing situation

  4. I just came back home in the USA after spending 2 weeks vacation (Feb 15-29) in Australia where I barely read the news. During those 2 weeks, clusters of the virus spread very quickly in northern Italy, South Korea, and Iran! Who knows which other places will be affected in 2 weeks or by the end of March!
    Just like you, I love to travel and if people wish to travel during this time, I say go for it! I do think people who choose to do non-essential travel should at the very least be aware of the possible consequences of their actions especially if they get the coronavirus (i.e. health screening abroad, forced 14 day quarantine, being asymptomatic and spreading it to your loved ones who may be immunocompromised, etc.) Also, even though the USA keeps stating its hospitals are ready for a pandemic, I’m quite pessimistic. I’ve seen how long a wait at the ER can be on a regular day and can only imagine how crowded it would be during a pandemic.

  5. I couldn’t agree more. My family has a trip planned to London in a few weeks and we have every intention of going (unless government or airlines decide we can’t). I think of the thousands of people whose livelihoods are being affected by the sudden absence of tourists, many of whom are Mom & Pop businesses that likely don’t have the means to survive the impact.
    Yes, we are taking a risk, but there are very few situations in life where the world literally needs us to travel. Now is one of those times and I am happy to oblige.

  6. Mostly agree, though you owe many readers much more caution and information. TOP of which would be anyone with some other chronic diseases, ie uncontrolled diabetes, HIV, myeloma, Leukemia, many cancers, liver conditions, hepatitis, uncontrolled high blood pressure, recent surgery, spleen issues, COPD, etc.

    If you don’t know and suspect you have something, dont travel. If you need a check-up, do so asap as doctors and labs soon might get too busy for non-critical folks.

    And for pete’s sake, please stop comparing this to the flu. This is brand new, and deaths can easily be 3-10x that of FLU in 12 months time. It still would be small RELATIVE to population, but important to know, there isn’t YET, standardized treatment options other than fluids and oxygen.

    If you KNOW you are healthy, or well-manage some conditions, then might as well enjoy traveling. It would be responsible if you devoted a paragraph to the MANY people who DO suffer from existing conditions, that might otherwise not be fatal/complicated, if it weren’t for complications arising from this NEW NOVEL VIRUS.

    Unless you dont have health care where you live, or somehow manage to be able to travel residing in an impoverished area with terrible healthcare, then it doesn’t matter where you are.

    For the rest who rely on quality healthcare, you do NOT want to be on island, or foreign land, when they have their “own” people to treat first, or don’t have the facilities.

    It doesn’t matter if you are young or old, what matters is that you are healthy, don’t have existing conditions, and well nourished. If thats you, GO AND ENJOY!

  7. One last thing– if you are HEALTHY and know you are, and been tempted to quit a job or take a “gap” year, now is the time to hop around the world, go with the flow, and experience many places that likely will never be this empty ever again in your lifetime, and pay motel 6 prices at a Ritz.

    For the rest who don’t or have family they want to get back to by a specific date, or a job, then think twice. Maybe it would be a good time to promote USA travel– Many americans will also be suffering from lack of tourism, and within the 48 states, you can drive home if things get bad, while supporting our local economy too.

  8. Ridiculous advice. Avoid airplanes and airports for next 3 months till u see where things land. Mr. Ott should stick to points, miles and flight reviews (where he excels) and eschew epidemiology and health issues.

    1. I’ll write whatever I want. It’s worth noting that the CDC and WHO have urged governments not to restrict free movement, so at the time being, you’re the only one pushing that agenda.

      I appreciate the kind words on the flight reviews though. But as noted this is opinion, it’s my blog and I feel strongly about weighing risks and deciding to travel.

      1. You can. But u have put a comments section for pro and comments I believe.

        And sure fellow readers, u can trust Gilbert, who is a travel blogger. But, I as a board certified infectious diseases MD who has 5,000 patient encounters a year just for difficult infections, while usually wearing gowns, masks, etc., will stick to not traveling by air for the next few months. Free movement does not equal recreational travel.

        1. You need to keep in mind this is a travel blog and the blogger is financially compensated by travel and credit care companies. If travel dries up he will lose.

          1. You honestly can’t square these the way you think you would. If this was Kayak, or Booking you could say that, but most revenue has very to little to do with travel.

  9. Question, do you still feel this way with someone who has contact with a family member who is considered immunocompromised?

    1. As I said many times in the article, only you can do a risk assessment for your situation and those around you. Caution is always a good first step, but how much is necessary is on everyone individually.

      Personally, if I’m at all sick, I try to avoid contact with others, isolate myself to a room and wash everything I’ve touched. I think if people Golden rule it and treat others how they want to be treated, the spread would be greatly decreased.

      1. My concern is that I will go somewhere and then get caught in quarantine on the way home, which could mean a lot of lost money from my job as well as not being able to see certain family members.

        I’m rather torn as I have wanted to go to Egypt for a long time, and have seen some crazy price drops, but don’t want to get stuck behind a closed border or with lost wages on the way home. I live with people who I could not isolate myself from upon return, causing another wrinkle, but the price is so amazing at the moment.

        I appreciate that a lot of places rely on tourists, but I’m not sure I agree with your article’s premise, though I do always like to hear the different viewpoints in these situations.

  10. Couldn’t agree more. Let the chicken littles of the world stay home. Cheaper airfares, hotels, and award availability for the rest of us.

  11. Google gave me an add 3 times in your article for “N95 Face Masks, LIMITED SUPPLY!!” You can see where the world is right now… I’m still traveling, however every company I may meet with in business has canceled all travel, so I may be here until someone is willing to meet… But I’m not scared.

  12. i’m 50+ have some hypertension so your perception of threat and risk may be significantly different to mine…
    You should have started this article with “if you’re over 40, this doesn’t apply to you, stop reading here….” or something similar.
    Why dont I think its a good idea…On my home ground I can access healthcare using my native language. If I go to Asian countries, that for one reason or another are underreporting the virus, and taking the commonly used 80% worst case scenario for maximum spread, then I have with a 7 to 8%+ chance of death (adjusted for age, gender and hypertension), so realistically I’ve got a 1-in-15 to 1 in 20 chance of catching and expiring from the disease, especially given I may not be able to access full healthcare in Bali, or Bangkok, or Hong Kong.
    If someone said lets play Russian roulette with a chamber with 15 bullets but only 1 loaded, would you think it a good bet? the payoff being a couple of hundred pounds off an air fare and a couple of hundred off a hotel. For a 1-in 15 chance of death – again i stress for my age and with banally common blood pressure issues under normal circumstances.
    I’m not a timid traveller, I regularly travel in Africa, I’ve just come back from the Carribean, I do like a nice bit of long haul….. but a half price ticket doesn’t make up for the “worst case”

    Good luck @Steve, if your around 30 or under you can dive in. (then again, the hero doctor in Wuhan was only 30 wasn’t he). i wonder if we know all the facts. why wait for more information to be gathered, just jump in and see what happens.

    PS I’m speaking as a Virgin Ticket holder for HKG, just waiting for them to allow me to cancel.

    1. He highlights that the risk is everyone’s to assess. While I don’t agree with what he is saying, at least he says it upfront. You also need to realize how he is compensated – decreased travel doesn’t help his traffic into this site.

      1. Tim, thanks for being fair. It’s worth pointing out that whether or not people travel really doesn’t impact my business. People will still collect points, weigh loyalty and need travel news. A very, very small percentage of my life is justified by people booking travel.

    2. Jonathan, you did your risk assessment and it’s not for you. As mentioned, everyone must do their own. You have pre-existing conditions and that may be a deal breaker for you with good merit. My dad is in his late 70’s but very lucky with his health and if he told me he’s going to Tokyo this week, I’d say have a blast and wash your hands. That’s me, you are you – we all must do what we think is right. But my point stands – the virus is everywhere or will be soon. Plenty of things to kill you close to home, this is just another that most likely won’t.

  13. I hadn’t really thought about the obligation to keep tourist infrastructure people’s livelihoods intact if possible. It’s a valid point. Then again, while I’m not visiting Wuhan any time soon, I don’t see a reason to change my plans due to fear.

    @Gib – Are you maintaining your travel plans?

    1. Genuinely plan to travel more from April-EOY than I have in years prior. At these prices or points availabilities I’ll be able to tick off places on my bucket list faster than usual, and since it’s already in the two cities I reside, I don’t see increased risk for us personally. Hands to ourselves, lots of hand washing, good hygiene, avoid close proximity where possible. Starting the year of travel in LA, but then absolutely heading to Asia.

  14. Thank you for writing this. I’m glad that someone in the industry has stood up and said something. People just need to relax. The travel industry is suffering immensely and I hope that people support it, just as it has supported us all of these years.

  15. Frankly I’m not seeing the lower costs. I know there have been some low-priced postings for business class flights originating in Europe to the U.S., but as an American, I can’t find anything decent from Los Angeles to Europe this coming summer. Minimum of $3000 return. Same pricing as it was three months ago. Not bad contrasted with historical pricing but still, not less than it was before the new medical scare arrived.

    1. But if you use miles to get to Europe one way, it’s $1300 Europe to LA round trip in business class. That’s $2600 lower than average.

  16. The whole point is that the world doesn’t need an additional virus that kills thousands a year for the rest of forever. This is a unique situation where we can stop this.

  17. People are so freaked out and going overboard. I’m at an airport now for a domestic flight and am going to Germany (on Singapore Air) in 2 weeks. Yes I will wash my hands and also packed hand sanitizer (which I never use), disinfect wipes and a thermometer but that is it.

    BTW I am 62 but in great health so not worried at all. The vast majority of people who have died (or even gotten seriously ill) were over 70 and many had previous health conditions.

    This is a virus but not Ebola or the Black Death. Worst case you get it and likely have something like the flu.

    Also have a family trip to Italy in August (when I expect it to be largely gone as these type of viruses are almost always seasonal).

    Let everyone else freak out – I prefer to live my life!

  18. If you look at the map of virus global spreading, you’ll see that most countries with bad outbreak are in Northern hemisphere which are experiencing winter. Countries on Southern hemisphere which are experiencing a summer have little outbreak. The virus is said to not able to withstand heat.

  19. Ha, ha, ha. Why not replace “coronavirus” with “environmentalism” and all of a sudden it’s cool to restrict travel because it’s not necessary. The gall of it is stunning.

    Not too long ago you wrote some loathsome, self-congratulatory, ego boosting post on how your environmental awareness was getting in the way of your travel bug. Then it was maybe ok to explore the concept of restricting travel to “save” the planet. Now it’s full speed ahead. The woke hypocrisy must be like a lead weight.

  20. I wish my government would quarantine the f out of us like the Chinese are doing. I don’t like where this is going…

  21. I travel regularly to off the beaten desinations and I have a trip to central asia starting Friday. Not concerned about coronavirus at all. The only thing that’s keeping me on my toes is that certain countries are banning citizens of certain countries from entering at all, or if you do you’d be subject to a mandatory 14 day quarantine at a hospital. For some of the Central Asian countries I’m visiting, that list of countries you’ve been to where the quarantine is in place is the common ones (China, Korea, Italy, Iran, Japan). Some countries are saying if you’re from a place with over 100 cases of coronavirus, you’re going to be subject to the quarantine. We keep getting more cases in the US and if countries stick to this arbitrary 100 case rule and they force citizens from those countries to be quarantined, US citizens fall into that category. I’m not paying money or spending time traveling just to wait it out in a hospital only to leave directly after I’m done with my quarantine. Otherwise, I view this simply as a common flu outbreak so I’m not stopping my travels.

  22. There is a glaring problem with your opinion. The one strategy that has proven successful at limiting the spread of the coronavirus is the restriction of movement of people. In my opinion it is not in the common good to promote the reverse. Go book a stay in a local hotel if you want to support the travel industry!

  23. Is there any possible way for you to please make it so that your entire articles open in feedly, instead of having to click multiple times to get to the website to read? Other blogs I follow all are able to do this, I was wondering if you can please try to do this as well as it makes it a lot more readable.

  24. And I defiantly wouldn’t book a cruise – being. Quarantined on a boat would be a nightmare !

    Can you do some ongoing articles (that are updated) of the best hotel offers around the world Gilbert ?

  25. I have observed that many people like to be freaked out. The same happens with financial market depressions, recessions, etc. This is just another opportunity for that. I look forward to this all blowing over soon, without there being a pandemic.

  26. I agree, there is reason for people in At Risk groups to be more cautious, but I don’t think I’m at any more risk in most countries than I am in the UK, especially taking into account the type of activities and number of people I encounter in every day life vs on vacation I think I’m probably less at risk when traveling.

    While I think there is a small risk of quarantines I think it’s relatively low in most places. The cat is out of the bag and quarantining hotels etc. isn’t going to achieve much any more.

    Plus if I go on vacation I’ll get to work from home for two weeks once I got home. Perfect! 😛

  27. Yikes! Looks like that bastion of common sense and thoughtful action President Trump has put the last nail in the coffin of several airlines.
    I really can’t work out why he’s banned travel from Europe, but not from the UK. Surely most euro-travellers will grab a flight to LHR\LGW and fly from there or arrive by the tunnel from the icky continent? Not to mention the descending state of the UK, with it transmitting freely in the UK etc. So UK will be banned about this time next week? And Ireland the week after.
    Also, not even going to go with the logic of banning flights when they have 1,000’s of cases in the US.

  28. You just gave a horrible and insensitive advice.

    Coronavirus doesn’t show any symptoms for several days and some of those symptoms are mild, 15% of infected have been reported to have no symptoms at all and still are able to spread the virus, let’s say that you don’t have any symptoms and go out to a lovely trip and as far as you can tell, you only interact with people with no symptoms, chances are, that by the time you come back you have the virus, now imagine not only you but all the people that follow this advice, you can see it multiply and affecting your dearest beings also.

    And no, being in a place with a hot climate is nowhere near a guarantee that you can’t get the virus, the middle east not only has confirmed cases but also is taking preventing measures (Saudi Arabia is in almost full lockdown) and most of it is a freaking desert.

    Also, dying isn’t the only risk, but also loosing from 20 to 30% of pulmonary capacity permanently.

    You’re not only risking your life and health, but also the life and health of others, if you just want to be selfish don’t try to justify it behind a “I know what I’m doing”.

  29. Reading this post 3 weeks later. It’s like you’re some kind of Nostrodamus in reverse. Still getting in all that extra travel with the cheap deals around?

  30. My SO lives abroad for reasons we can’t control. I live in the UK. So I ask, what about those who are separated from our partners? … shouldn’t seeing them at least every 6 months count as essential travel?
    I am having panic attacks over this, and nobody cares…

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