I’m feeling a bit anxious about writing this piece. Whether or not to travel at this time is a highly subjective decision. Most governments are imposing COVID-19 travel restrictions that are somewhat ambiguous and I believe that is intentional. Human lives versus economic collapse: this is an impossible conundrum. Add to that the “Unknown” factor around COVID-19 and you’re left with a whole lot of speculation.
When Portugal eased lockdown restrictions, I decided to take a train trip north to Cascais. I felt train travel would be safer for a number of reasons. I knew the Portuguese government was requiring masks be worn throughout the trip and I also knew that few people would venture out. I have mixed feelings about having taken the trip. Not seeing other tourists in an otherwise tourism driven town, was somewhat depressing. Strangely, I came home wanting more.
I’m not going to site articles about the safety of travel because there are as many telling you it’s safe as there are advising you to stay home. This is a very personal decision, however, there are many people out there who believe that when you travel you are endangering lives. Yes, they believe you are risking catching the virus outside of your community and taking it back to where you live. It would be wrong and dishonest to say that there isn’t some truth to those sentiments.
My argument is that life is full of risk at every turn. You get behind the wheel and there is a risk you could accidently kill someone else on the road; do you stop driving? You light up a cigarette outdoors knowing you are exposing people to carcinogens, do you only smoke in your own home? You consider sending your children to school knowing that there is a possibility that another student might open fire on school grounds, do you keep your kids home where it’s safer? You know where I’m going with these questions. One can rarely be 100% safe.
As you sit in judgment against others who exercise their personal freedoms, it doesn’t hurt to consider your own decisions and personal habits. Does anything you do endanger the lives of others in any way? Do you take every precaution to keep others safe? Doesn’t just being alive carry risk and uncertainty?
I realize that many will argue that travel is putting others at risk — if you were to contract the virus, you could potentially be exposing others. This argument also has validity; however, it takes us back to risk. If you are a responsible person who takes every precaution, are you not minimizing the risk for everyone else? I would use the analogy of driving: cautious drivers are doing everything possible to minimize the risk of an accident that might harm or even kill someone else on the road. Do not forget, driving is a choice.
Why You Might Want to Stay Home
- There are few places safer than your own immediate environment. There you have almost complete control.
- If you are in a high risk group (underlying medical conditions, age)
- If you will have anxiety while you’re traveling, you have to ask yourself if it’s worth it.
- You can wait it out
- When flight circumstances change, you may not get a refund from your airline. Some are only offering future travel vouchers.
- The numbers of confirmed cases and deaths around the world is staggering. This might be your barometer.
- Your value system does not allow you to put others at risk.
The Upside of Travel
- Some people are in serious danger of losing control of their lives and possibly losing their lives. The psychological and emotional impact of this virus is difficult to measure. Travel to be with a loved one or being outside of their isolated environment, could be a life saver.
- If you can be disciplined and super careful, it could be fun.
- This virus could be with us for a long time. Some of us feel that we need to adapt and adjust our lifestyles to cope with this new normal.
- My flight was only 5% full going to England and 30% on the return. It was easy enough to social distance — something to consider.
- You could also consider going to a place where they have controlled the virus.
- For some people, it is important to exercise their personal freedoms.
- There are lots of deals out there right now.
- If you feel less safe or exposed on an airplane, you might consider staying local. I recently took the train to a resort town and truly enjoyed the quick and easy getaway.
There are more reasons to stay home and many more reasons to travel. Feel free to share them in the comments section.
From the UK since I was in Manchester (from the NHS) when writing this piece:
The main symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are a high temperature, a new, continuous cough and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.
The main symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are:a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normalTo protect others, do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital if you have any of these symptoms. Stay at home (self-isolate) and get a test.