In light of the coronavirus outbreak, Travel Leaders Group has offered some advice to travelers. First and foremost: Don’t panic. Be wary of misleading information on social media and online “clickbait,” Travel Leaders says. Look at the statistics to keep things in perspective and be sure to rely on official sources of information, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Additional tips include:
- Talk to your travel advisor about ideas for booking a spring, summer or fall vacation. Many travel providers, including cruise lines, airlines and tour operators, have great offers and savings and have introduced flexible policies in the event your plans change.
- Seek out information on the places you are planning to visit. Both the U.S. State Department and governments and official tourism bureaus of destinations are great resources. They will give you up-to-date travel advisories and warnings as well as any information about the spread of coronavirus in their countries.
- If you do travel in and around impacted countries, be prepared to follow the CDC recommendations for health screenings and quarantines. Practice good hygiene, good hand hygiene, cover your cough, avoid contact with symptomatic people, stay home if you are ill, and use a disinfecting wipe to clean hard surfaces while traveling.
- Whether traveling domestically or internationally, we encourage you to purchase travel insurance for an additional layer of protection. Only certain “cancel for any reason” policies will allow you to cancel your trip without a specific incident.
- When traveling internationally, we encourage you to enroll in the STEP program. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service that allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. As an enrolled traveler, you can receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in a destination country, help the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, and help family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.
- If you were traveling to an affected area, don’t assume you’ll have to forego your travel altogether. Speak with a travel advisor who can assist you in finding an alternate vacation destination or moving your trip to a later time. If you have to make changes or cancel your trip, a travel advisor can help you navigate through change and cancellation policies of hotels, cruise lines, tour operators and airlines. Also, if you’ve purchased travel insurance, check with your insurance provider about your plan’s coverage.
- Consider your risk tolerance. Make the best decision for you and your family. Consult a medical professional if you have concerns.
The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control are closely monitoring the outbreak caused by COVID-19 and have issued guidelines to help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses. Travel Leaders Group leaders believe these organizations are the best resources for up-to-date, fact-based information about the coronavirus disease.
“Our goal is to ensure that travelers have the facts when making travel decisions,” said John Lovell, president of leisure travel, supplier relations and networks for Travel Leaders Group. “At the same time, we don’t want our travelers to avoid vacations or business trips because of misinformation. Our travel advisors are advocates and destinations experts who can offer tips, advice and insights. We encourage you to reach out to them when planning your travel.”