You may be like thousands of other Americans and wondering if you ought to cancel your vacay due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. COVID-19 is spreading at an alarming rate. As of the date of this article (updated 3/9/2020), there are over 114k confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide with over 62k recovered and over 4k deaths, mostly in China, according to the World Health Organization (see the latest statistics here). The WHO Health officials have yet to issue any broad recommendations to the general public about limiting travel that might trigger a wave of vacay cancellations, at least, not at this time (see the latest WHO COVID-19 travel advisories).
The question of whether it’s appropriate to cancel or change vacay travel plans in light of the spread of COVID-19 is basically a personal decision that travelers must make after weighing all the facts at hand. That’s because, for the vast majority of the globe, there aren’t any official limitations on travel.
Some questions you ought to ask before canceling your trip due to the COVID-19.
- Is your vacay destination stricken by the COVID-19 outbreak?
- Are you a part of a group that’s at risk of a COVID-19 infection such as older people or those with pre-existing medical conditions?
- Do you have travel insurance? If you do and cancel due to COVID-19 concerns, will your travel insurance cover your costs?
The world is a big place and there are still many vacay destinations to go to that haven’t been impacted by the coronavirus. Travel advisors are often an excellent resource when trying to find a destination that checks all of the boxes on your vacay wish list. If you’re nervous about booking your vacay, ask your travel advisor to seek out a trip that everybody going with you can look forward to.
Where are you going?
The U.S. State Department has issued a Level 4 “Do Not Travel” advisory for travel to China and affected areas of Italy and South Korea due to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued additional Level 3, “Avoid Non-essential Travel” warnings for travel to Hong Kong, Iran, Italy and South Korea.
Also, don’t count on only one source. Check the Canadian government advisories, which may help you make a more informed decision. In addition, the U.K. travel advisories also are a good source for up-to-date health information. Note that you’re going to sometimes find contradictory information between these government advisories, but it’s better for you to be fully conscious of the risks of travel to your destination.
Also consult another source, Medjet. If this medical evacuation company suspends coverage in a country or region, that’s probably a good sign not to go there. Medjet suspended operations in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau on February 5th.
What’s your health?
If you’re thinking of canceling your trip due to COVID-19, your health is definitely a crucial consideration.
- Do you have a chronic medical condition or have a compromised immune system?
- Are you elderly or a caretaker for someone elderly with a compromised immune system?
- Will you be spending tons of your vacay time in crowded public spaces or sharing rooms in hostels?
If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” you probably want to think about canceling your trip.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest risk assessment on COVID-19 doesn’t explicitly mention the age or healthiness of a traveler. However, a breakdown of the fatalities in China suggests that travelers over 80 with a pre-existing medical condition are at high risk. Concerned parents who are traveling with young children can breathe easy, at least for now, as there haven’t been any fatalities among children under the age of 9.
The criteria for canceling a vacay is definitely a personal decision and what that looks like is likely different for everybody. However, if you don’t think you’ll be able to enjoy yourself for a majority portion of your planned vacay, it’s likely a pretty good sign that you should postpone your trip.
Do you have travel insurance?
Travel insurance may or may not help and experts warn that it is not a guaranteed remedy. In order for insurance coverage to apply, the event impacting your trip must be listed within the insurance policy you purchased. It’s vital that you completely review the details of your policy to ensure your concerns will be covered by the policy. The typical reason insurance claims are denied is because travelers file a claim for something that’s not covered by their policy.
Will your credit card cover cancellation? Don’t expect it to as travel insurance offered through credit cards and other providers is unlikely to grant you a refund if you merely changed your mind about traveling due to COVID-19. Many airlines and hotels are canceling reservations and offering fee waivers to the most affected areas. That’s likely going to be your best option for getting a refund without a ‘cancel for any reason’ policy.
A ‘cancel for any reason’ policy offers a complete or partial refund if you opt to call off your vacay ‘for any reason’. Be aware, this type of travel insurance typically costs about twice the amount compared to a standard ‘named perils’ policy. Although ‘cancel for any reason’ allows you to cancel your plan for any reason, it will definitely increase the insurance cost. Also, be sure to understand the requirements for canceling for any reason before you purchase.
The typical requirement for a ‘cancel for any reason’ policy is you must purchase as soon as possible after you pay your first trip deposit. It’s typically only available within a certain period of days before your trip, usually within 15 to 20 days.
Make sure you insure all of your nonrefundable and prepaid trip expenses.
Be prepared to cancel your vacay at least two days before your scheduled departure.
The Bottom line:
If you’re planning a vacay soon, but haven’t booked anything as yet, you can still do something to protect yourself from losing a lot of money. Research a ‘cancel for any reason’ policy from a reputable travel insurance company like Travelex before your book.
Also, when you do travel, follow these hygiene tips:
- Avoid sick people, especially those who are coughing.
- Try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth without washing your hands.
- Be sure to wash your hands often, especially before you eat.
- Take hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and spray.
- See more COVID-19 Prevention and Treatment information here.