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The Coronavirus Scare and Travel: Stay Home and Worry or Enjoy an Adventure?

For free spirits the epidemic is a traveler’s fantasy, with greatly reduced fares on flights and accommodations and smaller crowds at major sites.

Phi Phi Islands, Thailand. A tropical "parking lot". Photo: Jana Wagner

Just think of the many wonderful stories yet to be told about traveling abroad during the Coronavirus scare, and coming home with glorious tans, exquisite photos, and best of all, memories to last a lifetime.

The Coronavirus, or COV-19, whether defined a pandemic or not, is everywhere in the news lately. It has impacted every aspect of our lives. For those of us who are now considering its ramifications on travel, it may be the right time to renew our hopes to visit the destinations that we had long planned to see, or just simply to come to terms with the alternative. We have options; we can either tour these locales virtually—online– while sitting in our dreary apartments, or we can make a bold decision and go for it.

Several months ago my son and daughter-in-law were making plans to travel to Thailand. Jana being a techie and highly computer-savvy, she set out to navigate the trip and began comparing airfares, hotel/ Airbnb accommodations/ day trips/ boat trips, and more. As of the end of January, when they made the decision to go ahead with their plans, the Coronavirus scare was centered in the region of Wuhan and had not begun its vicious path. At that time, they were not overly concerned, as traveling abroad was still considered a widely popular winter respite; only with some new restrictions.

David and Jana Wagner in Phi Phi Islands, Thailand. Photo: Jana Wagner

In the month that followed, the travel industry overseas has taken a severe hit in revenue; many companies have closed their operations, and sadly will not resume business. I have heard through friends in travel agencies, that the picture is only slightly better here in New York City. In fact, while considering travel as a topic, I contacted my friend/client Irene Sino, of Panorama Travel. She begins by mentioning that “information is power” and goes on to say, “there is no question that we are facing challenges in this industry, and it’s certainly understandable that people are panicked. During prior crises such as SARS, Ebola, September 11th, we persevered by staying informed and sharing knowledge with our clients. We have many ideas and tours on hand to suggest that are off media-radar for risk. Given the dynamic global landscape, we offer more flexible terms for new bookings”.

For those fearless free spirits who already chose or continue as planned, there are many wonderful and exciting adventures to enjoy. For starters, greatly reduced fares, both air and hotel, less congestion at major sites, less populated attractions in general and more in the way of incentives. It has become a traveler’s fantasy.

Accommodation in Phi Phi Islands, Thailand. Photo: Jana Wagner

As for my son David and his wife Jana, they are happily experiencing some of the best of the country, with less interference from other tourists. According to their texts and messages, they are enjoying the harmony of nature, the serenity of Koh Lanta, and the beauty of the landscape. Their concerns regarding the virus have taken a back seat to the adventures that have come with this journey, while we sit at home watching the grim news reports being televised hourly. I’m not promoting traveling to areas that are currently in the throes of the virus, but it is fair to say that everyone is affected in some way, so why should we deprive ourselves of an adventure, most especially if plans have been booked, and time has been carved out of our busy and stressful schedules, in hopes of enjoying a well–deserved rest? I don’t believe that everyone who continues to travel will be struck by this plague. The odds are always in our favor when we place safety and security first and take reasonable precautions.

Thai Landscape. Photo: Jana Wagner

In keeping with my son’s fearless spirit, I have recently made plans with a dear friend to travel to the Czech Republic in late June, to a resort/spa where wellness programs are offered. Marianske Lazne is on the German border approximately two hours west of Prague. Judging by photos of the hotel and the treatment package, I am in store for a well- deserved break from the slings and arrows of living life in the fast lane. As a city rat ‘resident’, I experience daily all the aggravations that come with life in any metropolis. For the last week of our trip we will be staying in Prague, eager to explore the beauty and rich history of the city. As a precaution, I have inquired regarding the possibility of an outbreak in Eastern Europe, and have been informed that if Delta cancels flights, the trip would either be rescheduled or refunded. I remain optimistic.

True to my family’s sense of adventure, my sister, her children and grandchildren are planning an excursion to Israel, where they will be celebrating a family milestone. A group of over 20, from New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts, have booked this joyous occasion and will be extending the trip to include travels to the island of Crete in Greece. Fears are being cast aside as we anticipate plans moving forward.

Just think of the many wonderful stories yet to be told about traveling abroad during the Coronavirus scare, and coming home with glorious tans, exquisite photos, and best of all, memories to last a lifetime.

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