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Epidemics and Travel; should I go?

Welcome back to Philip James Travel!

It’s February; it’s carnival season (at least in south Louisiana); it’s wintertime (some days), and it’s cold and flu season.  With some minor exceptions, the James family has mostly avoided colds and the flu, but It most certainly is that time of year when we are vulnerable to catching something.  Flu shots for us are a no-brainer and highly recommended for travelers not to be waylaid by illness before or during their trips.  Taking a brief break from the last couple weeks of discussing types of travel, I can’t ignore the elephant in the room…. Coronavirus.

It’s a name you’ve undoubtedly heard in the news in the last few weeks, but how does the coronavirus epidemic affect travel?

Initially, the focus was all on China, and in particular, Wuhan.  The region was quarantined, and access to more than a dozen other cities in China are now heavily restricted.  In short order, major airlines were suspending flights into and out of China altogether.  With an incubation period of 7-10 days, it’s difficult to accurately screen outbound travelers from China, but that’s what at least 20 major US airports have done.  Nevertheless, the virus continues to spread.  If you’d like to keep track of this, I found a cool DASHBOARD where you can see in real-time where there are confirmed cases.

One important thing to keep in mind about coronavirus is that even though it’s labeled an “epidemic”, and likely to become a pandemic, these terms – as frightening as they sound – do not mean that this virus is any more dangerous than the common flu.

So, what should a traveler do with this kind of information?  Number 1: Stay well!  Do all the self-care things you’ve always been told…. WASH YOUR HANDS, cover your nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze, limit your contact with possibly contaminated surfaces, (carry Clorox wipes especially for airplane seats, trays, and armrests), and if you cannot avoid contact , don’t touch your face before thoroughly WASHING YOUR HANDS!  Number 2:  Stay informed – particularly if you’ve got upcoming travel plans.  Check with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for any specific travel warnings, and heed them.  Number 3: Use common sense, and exercise your own best judgement (and that of your travel advisor) when choosing if, when and where to travel. Number 4: Always strongly consider purchasing primary-coverage travel insurance to both protect your investment in case you must cancel your trip, and cover any medical needs that might arise during travel.

Unless China is on your immediate destination radar, I am not recommending that anyone curtail their travel plans at this time.  As always, I welcome your inquiries and the opportunity to help you discover the world through travel.  Let’s plan together!

Philip -


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