This blog post is by no means any travel advice, medical advice or any official guideline, (you'll find those elsewhere), but barely a reflection on what we should do about our travel plans and the impact of that virus on my clients.
We just came back from our latest trip skiing in Austria (I'll write about "How to ski with young kids" on a future blog post). Everything was fine. Airports were quieter, but no panic. Just a few people wearing masks. No rush on hand sanitiser. Had we not read the news, we wouldn't know there was anything going on.
But, back to normal life, we cannot avoid the never-ending flow of news and the slight panic.
So how is that virus affecting my client's trips, business and our longer-term travel plans?
On the virus, Unique Travels and hospitality business in general
I have a client who is now affected by the spread of the virus for her holidays. I have been planning a special trip to Italy for V. which was a surprise birthday celebration and a special event. Following the latest news, all of this is now cancelled. Flights, hotels, restaurant reservations, tickets, private tours,... all those will have an impact on a lot of people.
First, obviously, the birthday man who will miss out on a very nice trip. But also, Simone, the lovely Italian private tour guide I had organised, Paola (and the team of the restaurant) with whom I had been communicating for a while, planning the menu and the arrangements.
I am a small planner bringing business to people here and there. But when I discuss with colleagues from the industry, everyone is in the same boat, spending quite some time managing cancellations and coming up with a creative plan B.
I sense that everyone's travel is put on hold, and people might choose easy / less risky options for the near future. No one wants to make big plans, in the fear of having to cancel everything, or worse, be stuck somewhere.
So, with this virus going around, how can I help my clients organise special family holidays?
This will be my work for the coming weeks: monitoring the situation and coming up with interesting and safe alternatives. I foresee a revival of the fun European road trip. Campervan, anyone? Summer might be happening in less visited places, in remote nature, with quieter surroundings. This doesn't sound that bad after all!
On the virus and our family travels
I don't think we are going to stop travelling because of the virus. However, we are going to be a bit more cautious with our choices and timings.
Our next break is already booked, we will be spending a week in early summer in Sweden. Our brief was remote, nature, calm, self-sufficiency and beautiful surroundings, so I think we will be fine. We'll just need to get there safely.
We have a few weekends planed abroad with friends in France, Morrocco, Belgium and Germany. Let's see...
We usually book long holidays for the end of the year, and we like to do it far in advance to get great flight options, good prices and have the choice. This year, we are holding off, mainly because we don't know where we should go.
My fear is not so much to get ill, but to get quarantined somewhere I really don't want to be, for a really long time (a cruise ship or a Chinese hotel 😳)
Part of me thinks this will quickly be behind us, so, hell, let's book a trip anyway. Flights are cheap at the moment. But realistically, we have to be reasonable and do a risk assessment.
Where is the situation less bad?
Africa, Central America, Australia, NZ and Canada seem to be still quite ok (at the time of writing). So we do have lots of options. We will, unfortunately, have to avoid South East Asia, which was quite high on our list.
Where would we rather get stuck?
Far, yes. But not on the other side of the world. And somewhere that is easily reachable, so we will avoid 3 connecting flights. Ideally, on a beach in Costa Rica, please.
As we travel we young kids, we never find ourselves somewhere too remote far away from medical help (should we need it).
What admin measures do we need to take?
Travel insurers are working hard at the moment. We are well covered, but we will double-check that we can get a refund or change our route fairly easily. It might be time to read the small print.
Booking hotels and accommodation will be a challenge. Some of them require full payment 30 days before check-in, with a strict cancellation policy. I will have to negotiate that to guarantee we can be flexible in case of cancellation.
Any other precautions?
The obvious applies: handwashing and basic hygiene when travelling. Are going to clean all surfaces with antibacterial wipes? I doubt. But can we avoid that when we travel with small humans? 🙈
Do you have any concerns or worries about your upcoming trips with the family?
Feel free to reach out to discuss your plans.