I really have had this Clash song stuck in my head all week...
It's not been the best week for the travel industry that's for sure and I was really aiming to go back to a purely inspirational message this week with all those beautiful pictures I like to use, but instead I'm going to face the issue of the week head on, with the hope that I can at least point you in the direction of fact-based, unbiased information to help you weigh up the risks of trips you may have booked or are hoping to plan. It's not so much that there is misinformation out there, it is the relentless unwieldy focus on the most negative aspect the media can find that causes fear. Should there be concern for your travel plans? Absolutely. Should there be a blanket fear about travel everywhere? No.
Here are some coronavirus facts that give me hope, but that I haven't yet seen reported in the media:
For our Top 5 of the Week, I give you the best resources out there in internet land and the real world to help you calmly navigate the decision of whether to cancel or postpone your travel plans or not. We suggest you save this weeks ezine or at least several of the links posted below.
Next week, back to the travel inspiration, I promise.
Top 5 - Travel Resources for Informed Decisions
1. Your travel advisor
If ever there was proof that working with a travel advisor is the absolute best decision you can make in your travel planning process, then this week should have convinced you, especially if you are currently on hold with an online travel booking platform for the third day in a row. We are here for you, one point of contact, dealing the best way we know how with airlines, hotels, tour companies and all, so that we can advocate for you, talk you through all your options, and give you the facts about your trip. Whatever you decide, having an advisor to take care of the issues is saving you hours and hours of stress and time. It's not enjoyable for us to cancel any trip, but it's our duty, and the care we take in talking you through the process is bringing us incredible loyalty from many of our clients. We know they will come back to us when the sun is shining again.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website HERE should be your go-to for the facts on health issues in any country in the world. Currently of course the focus is on coronavirus and the page of the week for us has undoubtedly been Italy, but it's a fabulous resource for recommendations on shots and risks for more exotic destinations. Italy is currently rated at Alert Level 2 (on a scale of 1 to 4), whilst every other European country is at Level 1.
3. State Department travel advisories
I'm actually quite fascinated by the map below that the State Dept produce highlighting the various risks of travel around the world. They combine the health risks around the world with political and terrorism data to construct their advisory levels, which also run from 1 to 4. Click on the map to go take a look. Currently Italy and a few other European countries are at Level 2 (for varying reasons), signifying that increased caution should be exercised and bear in mind that most other countries in the world have the USA at Level 2 also. It's very simple to search by country and is a valuable resource if you are thinking of visiting a country you have little prior knowledge of.
4. Travel Insurance
We always offer it, and it is quite regularly declined, but for those times when something goes dramatically wrong, usually a health issue of some kind whether prior to travel or during travel, insurance coverage is essential. For accurate information on insurance you should always call your provider as this is the one time us travel advisors can not answer your specific questions.
We have had a lot of questions on insurance this week, with what is a "Cancel for any Reason" policy being the top question. So for this highest level of protection I need to quote directly from one of our preferred suppliers, Travel Insured:
" Cancel for Any Reason - Some travelers may prefer to cancel their trip out of concern for the Coronavirus. For insured travelers who purchased Cancel for Any Reason coverage, we remind you that cancellations must be made 48 or more hours prior to scheduled departure and payment is limited to 75% of the non-refundable trip cost up to the stated plan maximum limit."
5. STEP and more
Well I couldn't quite squeeze it into 5, so here's a further list of links for you that could be relevant depending on what your travel plans look like.
First up is STEP. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. It is a wonderful tool that adds considerably to your security when traveling and we highly recommend signing up by trip.
Then we have a few more for you that are worth adding to your bookmarks, because you just never know.
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