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My Special Report on Coronavirus

There is concern and common sense. And then there is hysteria and panic. When It comes to the coronavirus and travel, I firmly side with concern and common sense. I am not a doctor. I don’t play one on TV. But I do LISTEN to doctors, and what they tell me gives me the context and perspective to make informed and hopefully intelligent travel decisions. I can not, and I will not tell you what to do with your own travel plans. I can only tell you what I’M doing with my travel plans. I am continuing to travel. I am following basic and important personal hygiene protocols, in the air, on the ground, on trains and at sea. And…at home.


I’m following the advice my mother told me years ago and I never usually heeded consistently, until recently: washing my hands before and after eating, before and after going to the bathroom.  I am also avoiding buffets, bowls of candy or nuts. I am taking –whenever possible– a hot bath every chance I can, not just a shower. And I am hydrating early and often.


I wasn’t planning any trips to Wuhan, but I would still seriously consider going to Italy (the minute the country reopens), I’d go to most of Korea, and on cruise ships (I’m planning two trips in the next three weeks).


The numbers are still overwhelmingly in your favor. Consider this: there are currently 365 cruise ships sailing the world’s oceans.  How many were affected by the coronavirus? That number is three. I’d sooner take a cruise than the 6 train on Lexington Avenue in New York.


I feel the same way about my upcoming trips to Vienna, London, Oslo, and later, to Australia, to report on a variety of issues for CBS, PBS, and social media.


But the overriding point here, once again, is concern and common sense. Each of you needs to be a responsible traveler. Assess your own current medical condition in the context of your medical history. Are you 65+ and a two pack a day smoker with a pre-existing respiratory condition? Reconsider travel. Be honest about your physical abilities and level of strength.


If you have an inflexible schedule with rigid deadlines? You might want to take that into account. The subtext with so many travelers’ thinking these days is, “I don’t want to go somewhere and then be quarantined.” I get that.


I also get something else. Travel and tourism is one of the largest industries in the world. It is responsible for one in every 10 jobs, and perhaps even more important, one in every five new jobs. In the long run, the economic strength and impact of the travel and tourism industry will drive and accelerate a solution to this crisis. Too much is at stake.


But in the short term, I hope that common sense and good hygiene practices prevail. Travel prices are dropping precipitously — Los Angeles to Hawaii: $99, Boston to London: $254, or 17-day cruises for $460. And those are just a few examples.  Frequent flyer award seats are suddenly becoming available. At the same time, please remember it’s not just about these outrageously attractive prices. For the most part, the industry will definitely try to discount its way out of the crisis. And there’s a high likelihood for a buyer’s market for travel throughout the rest of this year. First, you must think things through, be honest with yourself, and then make good decisions based on the facts, not fear.


My job is not to promote travel. I sell nothing. I never have, and I never will. But if I am doing my job correctly, I am giving you the information you need to have before you go so that you can do it well, with a minimum of abuse, and safely.


Again, I am not telling you what to do. But I am telling you what I am doing. And what I am doing…is traveling.