COVID-19 has spread rapidly over the last couple of weeks, touching every continent excluding Antarctica. This has left many people to question if it is safe to travel or if they should cancel their trips and opt to stay home.
As with many things in life, there is not a cut and dry answer to this question. Here are some tips on how to stay safe and healthy if you do decide to travel.
Before booking your next international flight, be sure to go on the US State Department’s travel information section for travel advisories. Before traveling:
- Review and follow the CDC’s guidelines for the prevention of coronavirus.
- Check with your airlines or cruise lines regarding any updated information about your travel plans and/or restrictions.
- Visit travel.state.gov to view individual Travel Advisories for the most urgent threats to safety and security.
- Visit our Embassy webpages on COVID-19 for information on conditions in each country or jurisdiction.
- Visit the Department of Homeland Security’s website on the latest travel restrictions to the U.S.
Many of our partner airlines have responded quickly to this pandemic, putting new cleaning guidelines in place as recommended by the CDC for thorough disinfecting of aircrafts between departures.
This Forbes master list of all major international airline coronavirus change and cancellation policies provides a consolidated overview of those airlines offering no-fee changes and cancellations. Most major airlines are offering fee-free rebooking or a cash refund for high risk areas such as Italy, South Korea, Hong Kong and China. Some, like Delta, are allowing travelers to cancel any flights booked on or before March 9, 2020 and making the funds available to travelers for one year from the original ticket’s issue date.
It is important to note that many major airlines have also severely cut and limited their international flight offerings in response to this pandemic. American, Delta and United announced major service changes in the coming days as they phase out routes between the United States, Europe, Britain, South America and Australia. Some airlines are taking the extra step to eliminate connections through hubs and only provide non-stop service.
Travelers should also be aware that some major hotel brands, specifically Marriott and Hilton, are temporarily closing properties as global demand for hotels continues to decrease. According to this article in Business Travel News, U.S. hotel occupancy was down 7.3 percent in early March and the average daily rate was down 4.6 percent with some hotels only reaching a capacity of 20 percent per night. If you do need to travel, be sure to check with your travel office and/or hotel before your trip to ensure that your reservation was not cancelled due to the pandemic.
While there are no current bans on domestic travel from state to state, here are some general hygiene practices to consider to stay healthy (please note that these are guidelines that reflect the current suggestions of the CDC and are not endorsed by CWTSatoTravel):
- Stay home when you’re sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60% to 95% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
The CDC has also shared a helpful video on travel advice amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. Stay safe and healthy, travelers!