To be or not to be a traveler in ’22

In the last few weeks, our agency has been getting questions such as the one below, posed yesterday from two of our longtime clients.

Lastly, we’re seriously re-thinking taking either of the Avalon or Tauck river cruises since we’re concerned that these trips might not be the experience we envisioned.  It’s hard to know what protocols and restrictions might be in place 5 months from now but final payments on both are due in the next 6 -10 weeks.  Martha and I would appreciate your thoughts along with any info you might have.

Doug & Martha S.

To try to answer this one, as an advisor I no longer either encourage or discourage travel but rather share my own experiences. Let’s break this down:

First and foremost, it is hard to foresee what protocols will or will not be in place more than a week or so in advance.  It has become clear to me that this unpredictability cannot be a roadblock for at least planning travel as we have no idea when this situation will change, if ever.   

I recently returned from escorting several groups abroad this fall (yes, in 2021) – Greece/Croatia in September, the Caribbean in October, and Egypt & Jordan just last month in November.  What I can say is about these trips is that travel certainly has more challenges & restrictions than ever before.  All three groups had 100% return home without any issue, and all reports I received were that the trips were phenomenal and amazing experiences.   

November 2021 Outlander Society Treasures of Egypt & Jordan

As far as actual danger of catching covid, does the USA poses more or less risk than anywhere else in the world? More and more experts are finding that “whack-a-mole” travel restriction efforts are largely ineffective and almost always too late. At least I know when traveling with a reputable company that my immediate companions are vaccinated and tested.  When I go to my local grocery store I have no such comfort. 

While I can say the worst case scenario of covid is certainly severe illness or death, from my point of view that could happen anywhere…so unless I am never going to leave the house why does it matter how far I go?

That being said, I propose that potential travelers must recognize that the next likely worst case scenario while traveling abroad is getting a positive test result.   To eliminate a false positive, the traveler will usually be re-tested with an RT-PCR test.     If still positive, and scheduled to be  on a tour or cruise, they will be denied boarding or participation.   

On tour or not, with a positive test result they will most likely have to quarantine for a certain number of days and/or until they have no symptoms and test negative.   To offset at least the costs of this scenario, I strongly recommend purchasing a good insurance policy that covers quarantine – such as Allianz (except for NY and WA residents).  Many insurance companies now treat a covid-19 positive result as a medical illness and so they offer their typical coverage as for any medical situation – though it’s best to check with them and ask about coverage.

Would be travelers need to build in flexibility for their trips as they may not be able to return home when expected and they could incur additional costs above those planned.

We certainly need to consider the inconveniences of protocols & restrictions such as tests, masks, and the possibility of quarantine.  Yet also we should consider how long these things may be in place. 

Our flight home from Amman (wearing a mask is not so bad in business class!)

When the pandemic first started I imagined it might be a few months or possibly a year, and then life would be “back to normal.”  Not only has that proved wrong, but even today there is not anyone that can predict how long this will continue.  Might it be 10 more years? 

I hope not, but I am not able to say when this will become simply endemic…or if another pandemic could come about.  That’s an even worse case scenario (to me)! 

As I weigh these considerations, my personal opinion is that covid has already stolen too much of my time.  What can I do?   

My wife and I in Wadi Rum Jordan, November 2021

All that I could – I eagerly got my covid vaccine and 3rd booster shot, and I do my best to carefully research entry requirements and local protocols.  As long as countries are open to us for travel, even with restrictions, protocols, masks, and possibly quarantine, I am going to continue to see the world and to live my life.  It’s a risk I’m willing to take.

As you decide about travel, you have to ask yourself these questions and arrive at your own personal conclusion.

For further discussion, I will be covering this very subject during our upcoming livestream on January 4th when I host a panel of 10 small ship travel experts.  You’re invited to view the live broadcast!

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