The threat of COVID-19 to public health is real. It's time to stop traveling.
As the world buckles under the weight of the coronavirus, many people are canceling their trips—but many more are excitedly taking advantage of cheap airline tickets, or refusing to cancel their prepaid, long-planned vacations.
While canceling your trip will inevitably be disappointing, it's preferable to the alternatives. Travelers today face a multitude of risks unique to life during a pandemic. The U.S. State Department has raised the worldwide travel advisory to Level 3, and the CDC has warned travelers to avoid nonessential travel to South Korea, China, Iran, most European countries, and the UK and Ireland.
But if the nation you're going to hasn't been affected by coronavirus yet, that's absolutely not a reason to go there. Though the facts are constantly changing, some studies have found that 80% of coronavirus cases are mild, and many people with the virus display no symptoms at all. And though young, healthy people may not be afraid of the virus, it could easily spread to an immunocompromised or elderly person who could suffer severe consequences from exposure. As travelers flood unaffected nations, they run the risk of spreading the virus without knowing it.
Even if you manage to avoid the virus entirely, by the time your trip is over there's a good chance that you'll be forced to quarantine anyway, or at least you'll be in for a miserable and unnerving wait at overcrowded, unsanitary airports. Plus, many people are sick, stuck in quarantine, or in foreign countries unable to be with their families, and if you're safe and healthy at home you should consider yourself lucky.
The only true safe place to be right now is in self-isolation.
Trips can be rescheduled, but if you travel somewhere and happen to bring a virus with you—or if you're exposed and spread it to others—that'll be on your conscience for the rest of your life.
Of course, many travel companies and airlines won't refund you, but it's worth a shot, and you might even be able to postpone your trip instead of canceling it.
Traveling is supposed to be about embracing the beauty of the world and connecting with others across the globe. Right now, the best way to do that is to embrace the beauty of your bed.
And if anyone asks you if you want to go on a trip or out to a bar or outside, this should be your answer: