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If youve been watching the news, then you know that the coronavirus, or COVID-19, which

is the official name for the virus, continues to spread.

While most of us outside of China have not been affected, the spread of the virus does

affect those who may have travel plans to the region.

Hey, its Ernest from Trip Astute.

In this video, Im going to cover what you should do if you have an upcoming trip that

is affected by the coronavirus and share some general tips to stay healthy while traveling.

First off, I want to express my solidarity with those directly affected by the coronavirus.

I can only imagine how scary and frustrating it must be, and I empathize with those who

are in or close to the epicenter of the outbreak.

Secondly, I want to say that while the coronavirus is spreading and is considered a major health

threat, its important to have some perspective on it, especially those of us in areas that

have not seen an outbreak.

According to the CDC, more people are infected every year by the influenza virus, also known

as the flu.

During the 2018 to 2019 flu season, the CDC estimated that 35.5 million people were infected

with the flu and over 34,000 people died.

And it wasnt even a severe flu season.

I say all this because there is a lot of fear and anxiety generated by all the news of the

coronavirus.

And while I dont disagree that it is a serious medical threat, its important to

understand that the common flu is more likely to cause harm and disrupt your travel.

Of course, its what we dont know about the coronavirus that makes it so scary.

Scientists are learning more about the virus every day, including effective treatments.

But not knowing how the virus is mutating or exactly how it spreads makes many people

uneasy, and I dont blame them.

So, what if you have a trip planned in the near future to China or other areas experiencing

cases of the coronavirus?

Should you cancel your trip?

Does your credit card or travel insurance cover a disruption caused by an outbreak?

Im hoping to help answer these questions in this video.

Lets tackle the first question: Should you cancel a trip to China?

The answer is, yes.

I would avoid a trip to China or even one that routes through an airport in China.

Part of it is because the State Department has issued a Level 4: Do Not Travel advisory

for the country.

Secondly, if you do travel to China, youre likely going to have issues entering other

countries, or even returning back to the US without additional screening and potential

quarantine.

For me, its just not worth the risk and hassle.

Some of you might be less risk-averse, but if you want my honest opinion, I dont think

you should travel to China right now.

If youre in this situation or even have a trip just a few weeks away, you could wait

to see if the virus is better contained.

Though I suggest contacting the airlines to see what can be done.

Rather than just canceling or forfeiting your trip, you may have to pay a change or cancelation

fee.

Though many of the major airlines have suspended or reduced their flight service to China,

so its likely that the airlines will work with you.

You might also consider redirecting your flight somewhere else for now while the outbreak

stabilizes.

Since many of you that watch this channel are avid travel credit card users, you should

be aware that most credit card and travel insurance policies exclude outbreaks.

The general rule when it comes to travel insurance is that they will cover what happens to you,

but not what might happen to you.

American Express and Chase, for example, will not allow you to use the trip cancellation

because you are worried about getting infected.

However, if you can get your physician to document that your trip is not medically advisable,

you may be able to exercise your travel insurance option.

Youll still have to file a claim and wait for a decision, but from what I have read

online, it seems like your best chance of getting your coverage to kick in.

Now comes the more complicated scenario.

What about surrounding countries that may be experiencing some localized outbreaks.

This is where it gets a lot more confusing.

The answer for this situation isit depends.”

For example, with new cases being detected in areas like Southeast Asia, I know a lot

of travelers are worried about it.

In fact, just this week, an American passenger from a cruise ship that deboarded in Cambodia

was found to be infected with the coronavirus when attempting to connect to another flight

in Malaysia, meaning that they may have accidentally spread the virus while in the country.

Again, it depends on how risk-averse you are with your travels.

If it were me, I would probably avoid under-developed areas that seem to be experiencing outbreaks.

Most of the developed countries in region have the infrastructure and protocols in place

to screen for the virus and quarantine if necessary.

But Im less confident about some developing countries that may just lack the infrastructure

and organization to control the situation.

I know the risk of contracting the virus is low, especially if youre traveling outside

of China.

However, I worry that if an outbreak worsens, then you may have problems reentering your

country of origin or face a quarantine.

That being said, I have a friend right now who is traveling in Japan and doesnt seem

to be affected at all.

If you decide that you dont want to travel to your destination, it may be harder to get

a refund on a flight.

Though there is the possibility of changing flights.

Also, keep in mind that you can often cancel flights if your itinerary has changed, especially

if the schedule shifted by more than two hours.

The rules are different for every airline, so youll want to research your airlines

policy and see if others have similar experiences and data points to share online.

Lastly, if youre scheduled for a cruise, youre more than likely safe.

Theres a lot of coverage of cruise ships in Asia with infected passengers which might

lead you to believe that cruises are dangerous.

However, when you consider how many people take cruises every year and the number of

cruise ships out there, its safe to assume that cruising is safe.

And if you happen to be scheduled for a cruise in Asia, then you might want to contact the

cruise operator to see what precautions are in place.

Cruise companies seem to be well prepared for these types of situations.

Also, since many ports in Asia are turning away cruise ships, I wouldnt be surprised

if the companies decided to refund or reschedule passengers onto trips elsewhere.

And if youre still traveling or planning to travel, and wondering how you can reduce

the risk of infection, here are some tips to keep in mind.

1.

Consider booking fully-refundable tickets: While this is usually not the most cost-effective

solution, it might be worth considering if you are planning a trip in the next couple

of months.

I dont typically recommend booking these types of tickets because of the price, but

in this scenario, it may be worth the extra cost.

And if you happen to be flying business or first-class, youll likely have an easier

or less expensive experience trying to change your flight.

It varies by airline, but most major airlines will allow business and first-class passengers

to change their flights for free or a lower price than economy passengers.

It might be something to consider if youre debating between an economy or a more premium

class seat.

2.

Dont wait until the last minute to change or cancel plans: If you think youll need

to alter your travel itinerary, I would do sooner than later.

Youll likely find more options available, especially if you decide to reroute your trip

to another destination.

3.

Practice good sick hygiene and sanitation: Airports and airplanes arent the cleanest

places in the world, so make sure you wash your hands regularly and cover any coughs

and sneezes.

It probably goes without saying too, but youll want to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and

mouth to reduce the chance of infection.

Also, you probably dont need to wear a face mask.

Most doctors seem to be in agreement that just washing your hands is the most effective

way to reduce infection.

I personally like to also wipe down my tray table, headrest, and armrest with sanitizing

wipes when I get to my airplane seat.

It may be overkill, but Ive been doing it for years.

I just want to minimize the chance of getting sick when traveling, especially when Im

using precious vacation time from work.

Also, the wipes come in handy whenever I visit a public bathroom where there isnt running

water or soap.

4.

Get up-to-date with your immunizations: Again, youre much more likely to contract the

flu when traveling, so I think its a no brainer to get the flu shot every year, especially

if youre a traveler.

Even if it doesnt guarantee that youll be 100% resistant to the current strain, its

been shown to help those that contract some version of the influenza virus with their

recovery.

And if youre traveling to a developing country, make sure you review the recommended

immunizations.

Some of the immunizations require a lead time to be effective, so youll want to plan

accordingly.

I recommend visiting the CDC website and seeing what immunizations are necessary and talking

to your doctor about any potential risks.

5.

Sign-up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP): Also known as STEP.

This is a free service provided by the State Department that keeps you up-to-date with

any hazards or notices when traveling abroad.

I used it years ago when I was in Southeast Asia and got a notification from the State

Department of a potentially violent protest in the capital of Cambodia due to a political

assassination.

The program can also help the local embassy contact you in case there is an emergency

or situation where you need their help.

I think its a great service, and one that you should use if youre a US citizen.

We actually did a video on it when we first started the channel in 2017, so check it out

for more information.

If anything, you might get a good laugh from how rough the video was compared to where

we are now after years of experience.

I honestly cant even watch our old videos without cringing.

Again, I dont to freak anyone out with this video.

This isnt the first time weve seen an outbreak affect travel.

Even just a few years ago, a lot of travelers were worried about the zika virus in tropical

locations with mosquitos.

Now it seems like no one is talking about it.

I expect that the coronavirus will eventually be contained as well and that scientists will

find standardized effective treatments for the virus.

Though if youre someone who has an upcoming trip that is affected by the outbreak, I empathize

with your situation.

But I encourage you to see it as a potential opportunity to travel somewhere where there

is less of a threat.

I know its cliche, but traveling isnt about the destination, but instead the journey.

Ok, I know that was super cheesy.

But its true.

Have your travel plans been affected by the spread of the coronavirus or another outbreak?

If so, how are you dealing with the situation?

Please share your experience in the comment section below.

We hope you enjoyed the video and found it useful.

If so, please give us a thumbs up and consider sharing the video with others.

It may not seem like much, but it really helps us with growing our channel and community.

As always, we appreciate you checking out our channel and video.

Until next time, travel safe and travel smart.

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