I’m Maybe, Possibly, Potentially, Contemplating Travel Next Month

Filed Under: Travel

Let me start by saying that while I’ve put a lot of thought into this, I absolutely don’t have my mind made up, and I’m open to learning from others. It’s possible that I’ll be writing a follow up post tomorrow saying “I was completely wrong.”

I also think there’s value in having open dialogue around when it’s responsible to travel again. I wrote about that very topic a bit over a week ago, and you guys had lots of interesting opinions.

This pandemic is serious

I’ve been social distancing for well over two months now. I have the utmost respect for the doctors and scientists who have provided guidance throughout all of this. I’ve happily given up all my usual “freedoms” to try and do the right thing.

COVID-19 is serious. This isn’t the flu. This isn’t a joke. This isn’t a political conspiracy theory. The stock market isn’t more important than peoples’ lives.

And let me also say that between Ford and me we have three elderly parents who are potentially in a high risk group if they were to get COVID-19.

I say all of this because I want to make it clear that I’m taking this seriously and I’m trying to do the right thing.

A world without travel & tourism?

In a previous post I asked you guys when you think it’s responsible to travel again. We also conducted a reader survey asking when people would feel comfortable resuming air travel, and some of the most popular responses included the following:

  • When there’s a vaccine/immunity (25%)
  • When there’s extensive tracing/testing (24.8%)
  • When there’s accurate/normalized data to determine risk (21%)

As you can see, many people are only comfortable resuming travel when there’s a vaccine. I totally appreciate the spirit of this, though realistically:

  • It’s far from certain that there will ever be an effective vaccine
  • If there is a vaccine, it’s unlikely to be widely available within the next year, and most likely it would take much longer than that

Based on that I have a follow-up question, and I’ll keep this specific to the travel industry — what’s the “real” cost of potentially no tourism for several years? Not in terms of the stock market or in terms of investments from billionaires, but rather in terms of the roughly 10% of the global population that’s directly or indirectly employed in the tourism sector.

Let’s say those jobs simply don’t exist anymore, which would be the reality if there were  no tourism for several years. What will the impact be on those people being able to feed their families, having access to healthcare, having access to education, etc.?

I’m not just talking about people prospering, but when you consider that a lot of tourism is in developing parts of the world, for some people this is the difference between life and death.

I’m not knowledgable enough to actually calculate the “real” cost of an end to tourism, and how that compares to the impact of continuing on with tourism in an era of COVID-19. But it does raise a logical follow-up question for me…

Should responsible tourism make a comeback soon?

This brings me to the real point of this post. Should responsible tourism make a comeback sooner rather than later? Is that actually what maximizes the greatest good for the greatest number of people?

I think it’s important to recognize that not all travel is created equal. While this is a disease spread by people interacting, “travel” isn’t inherently risky in and of itself:

  • Airplanes are obviously a challenge due to density, but so are subways, elevators, and many stores and restaurants
  • When traveling you’re more likely to partake in more activities, which increases risk
  • You’re also at an information deficit in terms of knowing local protocols, etc.

But that’s also why I think we shouldn’t paint with such a broad brush and view all travel equally.

For example, I’m seriously considering taking a trip to Iceland in June, as the country plans to open to tourists from all over as of June 15. Iceland’s economy is heavily reliant on tourism, and the plan put forward by the country is the most well thought out and reassuring initiative I’ve seen so far:

If we went, we’d take several additional precautions:

  • We’d isolate ourselves for a couple of weeks before the trip (I would say that we would also get tested, but that’s still not actually that easy in the US without having symptoms)
  • We’d try to be as responsible as possible while in Iceland; obviously there’s some risk with hotels, restaurants, and so forth, but our activities would be focused around the outdoors
  • We’d self quarantine for 14 days when we get back to the US, and of course wouldn’t see our parents during that time

Some might be saying “well isn’t it more responsible to just take a road trip in the US if you’re going to travel?”

Frankly I feel more comfortable at the prospect of being in Iceland than doing most things in public in the US. Doctors and scientists have repeatedly pointed out that we need more testing.

Iceland gets that. Our leadership doesn’t. Just yesterday President Trump said:

“When you test, you have a case. When you test, you find something is wrong with people. If we didn’t do any testing, we would have very few cases.”

So… yeah.

I’m still conflicted about this

Let me once again emphasize that I’m not 100% committed to traveling next month. Quite to the contrary, this is something I’m putting serious thought into before making a final decision.

I realize I have a large audience here, and the last thing I want to do is set an example that encourages people to travel recklessly.

I also have the option to stay home, one that Ford and I have both taken very seriously over the past two months, given we recognize that many people don’t have that ability.

My thought process in deciding whether to travel goes far beyond my own safety, but rather is also about the safety of those we come into contact with. I think there’s a serious social responsibility there to consider, and that’s my biggest hangup.

The problem with COVID-19 is that those being irresponsible aren’t just hurting themselves, but are potentially hurting others even more. Is there a way to balance those interests and support tourism while not putting others at risk in an irresponsible way?

Bottom line

I totally understand those who say they won’t travel until there’s a vaccine, and in many ways I at least agree with the sentiment. At the same time, that could take years, or might never happen, and if that’s the case, it will spell an end to global tourism.

That will lead to hundreds of millions of people not having a livelihood, and will take an immeasurable toll on our society as well.

If we agree on that, is it irresponsible to start consciously traveling in the coming weeks and months? That means:

  • Traveling to places where you’re welcomed, where the pandemic is under control, and where there’s testing and tracing
  • Being responsible before and after travel to be sure that you don’t spread the virus to others, especially those who are most vulnerable

Personally I think Iceland’s initial model is the best case scenario we’ll see until there’s a vaccine, because they’re trying just about everything that one country can do, from having the situation under control, to welcoming tourists, to testing, to tracing. Ideally we’d have a better coordinated global effort, but that seems highly unlikely at this point.

Sound off (politely) in the comments section and let me know what you think, please!

  1. Being in Iceland is not the problem. The problem is getting there inside a plane full of potentially infectious people.

  2. Would the State Department travel advisory have to change first? Eg here in the UK none of us will be insured to go overseas until the Foreign Office advice changes

  3. You should go ahead and travel to Iceland as long as it’s still safe in Iceland and you make sure to keep your distance. It is very hard staying inside all day as it is causing severe depression and anxiety.

    You also mention great steps that you will take to ensure you are healthy and not getting anyone around you sick. I will be traveling this summer (international) and I will be taking the same precautions you are taking. 🙂

  4. If Iceland is where you’re considering, I think they have to switch to testing at departure airports for their scheme to actually be safe for the country. International travel could be a huge risk if someone on your flight(s) test positive.

    For domestic travel, I would be less worried. Aside from states that have sealed off, I’d feel comfortable going to any US state rn. Planning a July 4th weekend trip that includes flights myself, actually. With the USA opening up before we actually have a handle on the virus, it’s on individuals to make sure they don’t get infected, and as a young, no-preexisting condition individual who doesn’t see anyone in a high-risk category, I’m going to live my life within legal bounds with the current threat the virus poses. (If the death rate shoots up 10+% due to some mutation, then I’m scared and will stay fully inside)

  5. Go when you feel like it. It’s not the flu, but it’s quite similar. Old and unhealthy people will get hit the hardest, while the young and healthy will only get a mild or bad cold, if at all. There is no controlling a virus that is asymptomatic yet contagious in most infected people. If you’re worried about your relatives, stay away from them for a few weeks after you travel. So ignore all the armchair experts who insist on you locking yourself away for who knows how long. Both individuals and entire countries have spent months isolating themselves over this virus to the point of absurdity, and I can’t wait for it to end.

  6. Even if there is a limited reopening, countries will be selective about which nationalities they allow in, depending on whether their home country has effectively reduced the spread of the virus.

  7. Exactly what snic said + being in the airports and any other public places as COVID reaches new peak infections both globally and in the U.S.

  8. As much as I agree with your overall sentiments, I think you’re flawed in how you get there. Deciding to travel or go out into public shouldn’t be a decision based on “well, it’s safer in Iceland, so I’ll isolate for two weeks and then go”. It should be a decision based on acceptable risk.

    From what I’ve seen, the risk is acceptable to return to some new-normal, which includes going out to restaurants and travel for tourism. The average age of a COVID death is pretty much the average age of death. This is an important difference. All lives are valuable, but if COVID was primarily affecting young children, that changes the equation.

    We’ve also proved that it is well within out ability as a society to stop the spread of this disease in its tracks. We didn’t overrun our healthcare industry, and that’s important. This was the first step in returning to some semblance or normalcy.

    Is COVID serious? Yes. Does it have a low fatality rate? Yes, especially for those that aren’t vulnerable. Half of the deaths have been in nursing homes. However, it’s also insanely infectious, and the death toll (even with low relative mortality) is still very high. Should we do our best to protect the vulnerable? Yes, especially in hot spots. Does all this mean we should halt the global economy? Maybe for a short time to figure things out and gauge the risks. But that time has come and go.

    Have a good time in Iceland.

    “The stock market isn’t more important than peoples’ lives”.

    This is inherently untrue. The stock market is a reflection of people’s livelihood.

  9. I am curious what the public thinks has changed between next month and three weeks ago that makes it safer to travel? Are there vaccines and medications to prevent and treat the disease? Do we have a handle on the manifestations of the illness?
    Have airlines and hotels proven their cleaning and distancing measures are effective? Are there sufficient studies which can conclude how airflow in public spaces impact transmission? It feels like no questions have been answered, but somehow, people feel safer. I’m genuinely curious why this is the prevailing thought. The only thing we know for certain is the effectiveness of stay at home orders.

  10. Iceland is safe. Your house is safe. Getting from your home to Iceland is not safe.

  11. @Lou – I had Ventana Big Sur booked for next month and it was just cancelled. Might want to double check your reservation.

    @Lucky – 100% in the same boat. My wife and I are going stir crazy and just talking about traveling is fun. Though we have tons of options in California for road trips, the state isn’t open and many counties are prohibiting outsiders from visiting (even pulling Airbnb/VRBO listings). Hawaii has continued to feel like our best option, but they’re now saying at least the end of June before tourists can come. Though I don’t disagree with Iceland or other places where tourism is welcome, sadly I think we’re all stuck until at least late summer (depending on where you live of course).

  12. @Paul – The stats that indicate that we can slow/stop the spread, and the low risk to healthy people for any serious complications.

  13. I want to go to Miami at the end of June as I have the option to stay at am apartment for free. My plan would mostly be to relax on the beach,. Unfortunately, it seems like Florida isn’t taking things seriously so I hesitate to buy my ticket.

    The problem with planning travel is that so much depends on what everybody else does. And sadly, the dumbest people can and will ruin it for everybody.

    If by mid June the US numbers continue to be high, I can’t see Iceland allowing Americans in.

  14. @Lou – Ventana and Carmel Valley Ranch just canceled my reservations for the last week in June. Probably going to go to Calistoga Ranch in Napa and the Resort at Squaw Creek in Lake Tahoe instead.

    @Lucky – Why not stay in the US in June? My biggest concern is getting stuck abroad 1. being forced into 14 day quarantine 2. Imagine a situation where you test negative on arrival but positive on departure. Do you think they’ll let you on the plane?

    I think you had an article on this a few weeks ago but there are some awesome places in the US and you don’t have to worry about being on the next episode of locked up/stranded abroad:
    -Amangani, Amangiri
    -Blackberry Farm
    -Post Ranch Inn, Ventana
    -Calistoga Ranch (why I’m hopefully going there).

  15. The idiot “in charge “ has spoken – if you don’t test , you don’t have cases
    No test. No cancer

    Watch Sarah Cooper.. brilliant

  16. Interesting debate Ben. I follow the Iceland-situation closely, as I am very curious how that plays out, and because I consider a trip myself.

    But, I have some reservations.
    First of all: they haven’t announced yet which tests they will use. But, as they promise same-day results, I can see them using serological tests. The sensitivity of these tests isn’t very good (it seems to be 85% at most), which means 15% of cases are getting false-negatives. In a country like Iceland, where the total cases is very low due to its isolation, this can be catastrophic. If they are actually using moleculair tests, this is another story.

    On the other hand: a health certificate acquired from testing before arriving in Iceland doesn’t say a whole lot, as you very well may be infected after testing.

    A really good video about the tests, based on scientific evidence, can be found here: https://youtu.be/-DTcZnHHTA8

    The other thing is that I wonder what happens if somebody on your plane actually tests positive? What will they do? Do you need to go into quarantaine?

    But, I applaud Iceland for the initiative and I look forward to seeing how this plays out – I might very well go there myself in the end

  17. @Lucky, medical and public health professionals have said multiple times that the US is not ready to reopen, and given that you really should not be traveling anywhere from the US. You could be asymptomatic and make others on the flight sick without knowing it, you could get exposed on the plane, etc. Now is NOT the time for travel – now is the time to stay home.

  18. “The stock market is a reflection of people’s livelihood.”

    I mean, no. Let’s say that a person’s job is equivalent to their life, which it obviously isn’t. Sure, it’s a component of your life, but I’m pretty sure most people would rather lose their livelihoods before losing their job.

    But, on top of that, this is foolish because far more people work for non-publicly traded companies than publicly traded ones. So even if the premise that livelihood = life, the stock market is only part of this.

  19. I’d feel far safer going to a country with low COVID than flying in the United States. I have two trips booked; one to Boca Raton over Labor Day weekend flying in Fort Lauderdale (booked before COVID), and one going to Portugal for a month (mid September to mid October.) The Portugal trip was booked as part of a transatlantic cruise that is now cancelled, so I added some time in before and after. Portugal did really well during COVID-one of the few countries in Europe who did. I feel much, much safer going to Portugal than going to Florida. I will probably end up cancelling my FL trip. I was supposed to fly through Spain to get there, but now have a nonstop booked thru JFK to Lisbon and back. My plan is to take the train to NYC, and then go directly to JFK and hang at the airport until the flight leaves-assuming nothing gets cancelled. There are certainly plenty of non-compliant people here in my state, and I live here in MA-where we got hit very hard with COVID.

  20. @Bob – Maybe look up the word “reflection”. Working for a publicly traded company has nothing do with the point.

    Just like the Dow is a reflection of the entire market. “But not everyone works for a company that makes up the Dow.”

  21. you over-explain and make qualifications to your statements a bit too much, it really bogs down your writing. can you scale that back and grow a backbone?

  22. Thoughts on travel shaming by the general public? I’m convinced that those who throw the first stone on social media are the ones that either didn’t have the funds/points or were just too ignorant to travel pre-COVID.

    Obviously with you running the blog, you’re going to be posting trip reports etc. If I end up going on that CA trip (Calistoga Ranch + Resort at Squaw), I’m not going to post pictures or tell anyone about it for months because of the rampant “shaming” by the general public/co-workers/associates on social media.

  23. Deaths and all the horrible possibly forever side effects are course the worst things to come of this, but Contact Tracing will be the second worst thing to come from this after all the world is back to normal.
    Most of us are too comfortable with sharing our information with big brother and every tech company. I’m not naive thinking my info isn’t out there already, I just wish people would not be so trusting so easily.

    Be safe and enjoy the trip though! It sounds like you’ve been responsible and will approach the trip responsibly so there should not be any hesitation.

  24. Got National Parks plans on Mid-July.

    Not even considering Int’l travel until next year

  25. Lucky I respect you as a reader and I thoroughly enjoy your articles related to travel, credit cards and everything in between.

    I do wish you would leave the articles clean of politics though, as there is 2 sides to each story, let us all respect, that someone else’ opinion might not be our own. Travel should be free of politics and enjoyed by all!

    My 2cents.

  26. Do it Lucky! You are a travel writer, travelling in a responsible manner and taking the right precautions. Many of us are taking summer domestic flights that are nearly just as long and frankly, we are going to less safe locations (e.g. flying Miami to San Francisco). Your trip could also be a good test for all of us still hoping to do a late summer or early fall trip to Europe (Iceland, Greece, etc.).

  27. I can’t even leave Australia or travel within Australia. There is talk of domestic travel starting in July. My theory is my state government has been very conservative in dealing with this, so if they say I can travel I will. Our tourism industry has been hit hard. First the fires destroyed the summer season and then COVID 19. I won’t be traveling internationally until Australia reduces our do not travel advice as not covered by any insurance and I can’t anyway. I am very happy to support the local economy.

    I flew weekly for work and when I lived in Asia would “holiday” each month. I really miss it but can’t travel now (literally).

    Looks like I will have to enjoy living vicariously through your blog.

    I know you did a post on where to travel within the US but would be great to see a similar post on other countries!

  28. For those who say this is a political issue, it’s not. Not everything is political. Not everything is binary.

    I am a democrat; I also happen to think we need to get on with our lives. Be an adult. Be smart (e.g. wash your hands, wear a mask on the plane, get tested, self-isolate if you need to). And as we do those thoughtful things, we don’t have to treat the world as if it has stopped for another 12-18 months (frankly the world – hospitals, governments that pay social benefits – cannot afford to stay stopped).

    I plan on traveling in July and August.

  29. @ Ben — George wonders what you were waiting for? He’s flying right now as we speak. He is flying continuously, in case you hadn’t heard.

  30. @Colin Spread slowing is due to current distancing and quarantining methods. Since there had been no significant reopening of locations, stats on reopening are not available. Stats on severity of illness is also unknown because of the lack of availability of supplies to test ill and deceased people so that also is unknown. This also is related to the point on how we are not aware of all the manifestations of the illness and mortality rates. For example, strokes in younger, otherwise healthy people, may be virus caused. Unfortunately, there are so many unknowns and nothing is certain. I’d love to start getting back to normal but there’s no science to support it.

  31. I would say your argument that we should resume travel because 10% of the world is dependent on tourism is in the same vein as US politicians arguing that we need to reopen to save the economy. You can argue both sides have a point. I don’t think there’s a right answer.

    I would say the frustrating thing is lack of testing and a lack of urgency from our government to address that. Imagine if you were asymptomatic or caught it from someone on the plane. Upon arriving, you’d test positive and be forced to quarantine for what is likely the duration of your trip. Waste of time and waste of money.

    Ideally, you would get tested before your trip and then get tested again coming back from your trip. Then you don’t run the risk of being quarantined in a foreign country and also have to quarantine yourself for 14 days afterwards for no reason.

    Totally agree with you on destination – I would feel much safer traveling internationally than I would to another state. Seems like we’re the only country where a significant portion of the population is willfully not taking precautions and somehow thinks this whole thing is overblown or a hoax.

  32. You make your living by traveling, so you have a built in bias. We all love to travel, so we are all biased.

    With that said, you are one of the most popular travel blogs out there. Like it or not you have a ton of influence. People look to you as an example of what to do and what not to do. Aside from the vocal minority that will comment here and argue, there is a silent of majority of your readers out there (you know how many from your analytics) that’ll do or not do what you write or post about. So if you go travel, there will be a ton of people that will follow in your footsteps. If you say in, there will also be a ton of people to follow you example.

    Do keep that in mind when you make your decision.

  33. There are two reasons I’m cautious about traveling at the moment.

    1. I don’t know how likely/unlikely I am to get infected with the virus if I get on a plane (or train). I haven’t read lots of reports of people getting infected when they fly, but I don’t know whether this is because (a) flying is lower risk than perceived or (b) we aren’t doing sufficient tracing to determine that people are getting infected when they fly. I think (a) and (b) may both be correct to some degree.

    I wish we knew (# of people who got on a plane and then got infected within the next two weeks)/(# of people who got on a plane). This would be very helpful for assessing the risk.

    2. Daily life has been changed significantly in many places, so I worry about places being boring to visit. I think this is less of an issue at nature-focused destinations such as national parks (relative to city destinations), so the coronavirus situation could affect the types of places I visit.

  34. The comments on here are hilarious. Do what you feel is best for you, everyone is an expert and has an opinion during this time. A trip to Iceland sounds enjoyable, hope you decide to go and report on your experience.

  35. For all reasons you listed, Iceland seems to be a good choice for to test the waters. Isolate two weeks before travel, testing, masks, gloves, and further quarantine upon return, not everyone is in a position to do that (quarantine twice, 4 weeks total). Enjoy the trip. I would definitely be interested to read up on the experience. Without a vaccine, we do need to find a way to live with the virus responsibly, if that means wearing a mask everywhere I go, travel or not.

  36. At this point in the pandemic, I don’t think there is a right answer and you can spend all day justifying your actions and never convince some out there.

    If you truly want to travel and take all precautions then go and have fun.
    Don’t twist yourself into knots trying to avoid the inevitable travel shaming you will get here on your own blog!

  37. I too have cabin fever. My wife and I have had to cancel several trips. However the following is still valid:

    1) Whether you self isolate or not when you travel you have to interact with people.
    People including ground transporation, food vendors, restaurant providers, delivery
    services, hotel staff, airport personnel, airline staff, cabin crew and other passengers. Any of
    which could be infected but asymptomatic.

    2) Also you have to interact with government officials at customs and immigration

    3) How clean is your lodging, the rental car/train/bus and/or taxi cab?

    4) The government could possibly at either the origin or destination could issue emergency
    travel restrictions when you are away.

    5) If infected can you afford to pay for treatment without government or insurance aid.

    6) If infected how much of a burden are you putting on an already strained medical system.

    For now my family is staying home and self isolating. Our last trip was February and we may not travel by air for the rest of 2020. That will be the longest period of time for us since we were married that we didn’t take an airline flight since we were young and still dating.

    However road trips in the US is a possibility starting late summer if things get better.

  38. @John – “Lucky, when will you stop bashing Donald J Trump?”

    When Donald J Trump stops being ridiculous.

  39. this virus for the most part has peaked in North America & Europe & it will start to rebound as people like you travel. However, we can’t live in isolation forever. It’s time to start traveling, going on vacations and spend money otherwise industries will collapse, government bailouts will dry out and the long term damage will be permanent. People will continue to die and vulnerable communities should lock themselves in and hunker down until a vaccine is ready in 1-2 years but the rest of us healthy people should start looking to return to some normalcy, albeit with a mask and being 6 feet apart.

  40. I’m having my own withdrawal, too. Ben, just DO NOT travel for yourself and your family’s sakes.

  41. Europe and the rest of the organized world are not going to let Americans in since we are not in control of this. In Hong Kong everyone goes into 14 day quarantine. Traveling by air until there’s a vaccine may need for you to change your nickname to unlucky.

  42. My partner and I had a trip planned to Aruba for July which we still intended to take. Unfortunately, while the island itself is scheduled to open June 1st, I just received an e-mail that AV has cancelled our flights. CM has some decent options for getting home, but the timing isn’t great for outbound flights. It’s looking like we’ll be forced to cancel. If the flights work out, I would have no problem hopping on a plane.

  43. I totally support travelling as long as you have isolated prior to departing and are going to a country where they have the capability of testing on arrival. It is by no means a perfect approach, but it is a very sound one. Parts of Europe are opening up this summer, Australia and NZ are likely creating a travel bubble, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Canadian / US border was open by July. If your destination is welcoming and relatively safe, I say go for it.

  44. Do it! Planes have HEPA filters; they’re being sanitized in between each flight; airports are still empty; you and Ford can sit next to eachother. You’ll survive!

  45. @Luke – Thank you
    @Alex – I agree completely

    I too am going sir crazy, but in Manitoba, Canada where we have been obedient (we are Canadian after all), the virus has had few victims and we are opening up slowly. I am planning to go to France in the summer – I have a house in the countryside there – and feel that responsible tourists need to open up responsible tourism. Yes, of course there is a chance of catching this dreadful and highly contagious disease, but that won’t change for a long, long time.

    Canada / Manitoba has done well by isolating,France (certainly the rural southwest) has been following the global guidelines and I feel comfortable looking to travel in July or August.

  46. Why are you hedging ur comments around wealth? “It’s not about stock market”. Or “it’s not about rich people but people in travel related field access to health care and jobs”. Sorry to break it to you but it’s ok to be rich. It’s ok to create jobs for others. It’s not ok to create an us vs them. Just as it’s not ok for some to deny opportunity to others. Stop tripping over wealth when taking about travel. You’re personally in a privileged spot yourself I might add.

  47. YES YES YES !

    Go for it ! Take the family and take all your friends ! Get some discounts and load your cards !

    Fly anywhere with anyone on anything that uses GE Aviation engines. Thanks and thanks .

  48. Ben do what you want. As much as I want to go to Asia it can wait. Asia isn’t going anywhere. I’m using this time to work on my health and fitness. I can get back to leisure travel next year. What is the rush ? Just think about how insane the deals are going to be.

    My 75 year old Dad wants to go to Hawaii this summer or fall. He doesn’t have much time left on this planet so I understand how he feels.

  49. I know I will take a lot of heat for this but, so what. Not the first time.

    If the idea is that travel correlates to ONE of the needs to restart the economy perhaps it should be limited to those who CAN restart the economy. That is, business travelers who can begin to get the wheels turning again. Leisure travel, unless in a reasonably nearby area, is just not necessary at this time. You are not going to do much to help our economy, Ben, or even Iceland’s. But you might put at risk the business travelers who need to get out and start moving so as to actually restart things again.

    I will need to start travel in June. At first for a month or so to gauge things and develop some feeling for it as I will be driving exclusively within a 1200 mile radius. I can mostly contain in my car as a safe zone and take precautions eating and at hotels. I am doing it not because I have cabin fever or want to get out. If I get sick I am not too far from home. Once I get to mid-late July I will make decisions on business travel overseas and to the west coast.

    I am doing it NOT because I want to get out, but because if I don’t start soon, by this fall my business will greatly suffer. Do I feel safe? No. But it would be nice to know that there is not an added risk of millions of Martha’s and Bob’s deciding they want to travel to a spa weekend at Miravel because they can’t take being locked up anymore and will risk those that are out there and TRYING TO SURVIVE (in more ways than one). Or, Ben’s and Ford’s.

    Why not save the road and the air and the hotels for those who need to save their businesses and get moving again? I realize you need to do reviews of Iceland’s quirky hotels and spas but, really, do you? If people all start thinking like you, well, we are headed for another period of global infections and even worse economic consequences.

    Bottom line? Get a job. Start a real small business that can’t survive without getting out in the trenches if you want to travel so much. You blog. Sure, it’s travel related, but you are doing just fine with analyzing credit cards, doing happy hours, and posting silly articles like this.

    How about giving actual business travelers a chance to save their businesses and stay healthy on the road without unnecessary risks from pleasure seekers? I promise you your spa treatment at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland will still be waiting for you later on.

  50. Traveling next week, not going far from home (PHX to Sedona) but the deals for a Memorial Day weekend (or any weekend for that matter) are too good. Also, Hilton has a plan in place that I am comfortable with so a little golf, hiking and pool reading and a chance to get out of the house is great.

    It will have to do, replacing our cancelled cruise to the UK that we were to take the starting the same week. 🙁

  51. I have domestic travel booked end of June, but with United apparently shooting for a 100% load factor on too-small transcon A/C, fully ready to cancel.

    Joseph Fair, NBC epidemiologist, deals with infectious diseases so knows his stuff and how to do everything right, super healthy middle aged guy…took a flight, got Covid, and ended up in intensive care w/ oxygen support. A real eye-opener.

    Thankful for the scientists, doctors, front line works, Governors, and city Mayors telling the truth and being leaders, since Birx, Fauci, Adams, etc. have all apparently been silenced by the Cheeto.

  52. I hope you and Ford make your own decision based on what you learn and can safely risk.

    Don’t tolerate travel shaming.

  53. Social distancing is important for everyone with non-essential businesses to practice. Except if I don’t travel, my non-essential business will keep losing losing money so I need to travel.

    Hilarious, typical good for me but not thee attitude.

  54. I think it’s a bad idea simply bc it’s not about you. It’s about others. It’s irresponsible to go when no one understands this virus. Granted, I’m not a scientist but states just started opening up, and I assume we’ll see an increase in cases which will then lead to an even bigger increase. Don’t be part of the problem, be the solution. If you we see and understand that social distancing works (or at least decreases the cases), then why stray from that. Stay on the path.

  55. I was already planning a return to Iceland for the somewhat near future so this is extra tempting, especially when other plans have been cancelled. But… I think I’ll stay put for a while longer and explore near home (mainly outdoor activities). As many have stated, I think there are a lot of unanswered questions around exactly how it works if you or someone on your flight tests positive on arrival. If the early reports come back positive (uh, bad choice of words…) then I’ll gladly look at a trip later this year.

    I guess you could always spin it as going for the sake of research and your readers.

  56. Some people have asked what has changed. I’ll tell you what. Based on research from Stanford, we can conclude that the true death rate is now likely 0.1% to 0.2%. Secondly, we know at this point that our hospital systems are not likely to be overwhelmed, which would drive up the death rate. Thirdly, we have manufactured vastly more ventilators and other PPE, again preventing the likelihood that hospitals are overwhelmed. Fourthly, we have initial treatments like Remdivisr that are proving effective.

    Personally, I got the antibody test and tested positive, as did my whole family of 4. None of us had any symptoms. We are planning to take two international trips this summer.

  57. I envision a possible BIG problem here. If you and Ford should get sick, there goes the OMAAT daily newsletters and the semiweekly Happy Hours. Stay home or promise that Tiffany will keep things going for us.

  58. @Lucky I think it is a great idea! When I saw your post about Iceland the other day I was tempted to look into it myself (especially being Alaska Airlines partners). I think we are at a point where we can individually start to assess our levels of risk and consider responsible travel, particularly outdoors and remain safe. However, for me, I remain concerned about U.S. State Department international travel guidelines. It’s really hard to make travel plans even a month out if there is still a risk of the closing of the border forcing you to return early or cancel your trip and plans entirely. I’m unsure if I’d necessarily wait till its lifted, but things are still rapidly evolving. My state and job also have two-week quarantine orders for travelers from out of state so that’s a partial consideration.

    I am heartened to read you considering travel again though! I might be a few days/weeks behind you trying to assess how things continue to play out. Iceland is ABSOLUTELY gorgeous.

  59. @colin Agree with your reasoning.

    Lucky, go to Iceland. You are taking all necessary reasonable steps to protect yourself and others. Yes, this is a serious public health crisis, but fear and panic have driven too many extreme reactions to it, probably the most extreme being strict restrictions on our getting out and about should continue until we have an effective vaccine. I think virologists having been working on a vaccine for earlier forms of the coronavirus long before this novel coronavirus and have yet to perfect one.

    Stay safe and travel intelligently!

  60. @UA-NYC – The same Joseph Fair that got 4 COVID19 tests at the hospital and all were negative?

  61. As a cabin crew member there is nothing more in the world that wanting to go back to work, but it’s simply to soon. While on paper Iceland Tourism looks to be promising, but in reality it would be very different. We have seen how hard it has been to contain the virus and it would be very easy for it to flair up with the sheer numbers of international travel to one spot which would essentially make it a hot spot. This would then further strain travel and the travel industry pushing a return to flying back even further. If you and Ford really want to help the travel industry then please stay home! Because everyone traveling this soon, whilst this pandemic is still going, is going to be harming the industry more than actually helping it.

  62. 1) If Florida has done such a bad job, why are our deaths lower than New York’s nursing home deaths alone??? And we are a larger state. I think the governor has been measured in his response.
    2) Lucky don’t you live in Miami Beach? They do drive-by testing at the Convention Center. I know plenty of people who have no trouble getting testing, even the mayor says they have more than enough capacity.

  63. Do you need to travel? No
    Will it benefit anyone? No
    So stop being so drama. No need, no excuse. 2 months big wow, I’m coming up six months. Stfu and do the right thing

  64. @Max Johnson, “Canada where we have been obedient (we are Canadian after all), the virus has had few victims”

    Fact check:

    COVID-19 Deaths/million week ending 5/14:
    US: 5.4
    Canada: 4

    Total COVID-19 deaths/million:
    US: 260.7
    Canada: 147.3

    Our friendly neighbors to the North are definitely doing a better job, but let’s slow roll that “few victims” nonsense.

    I’ll put the URL to the data in the next comment, because the spam trap will hold it up for awhile.

  65. “Lucky, when will you stop bashing Donald J Trump?”

    Ben wasn’t bashing the President; he was simply quoting him.

  66. @Colin – yes indeed 4 tests all negative and he stated the pneumonia was bacterial. Tough illness for him wouldn’t wish an ICU stay on anyone but science says it wasn’t COVID. That said there’s a limit to what science can say and people need to understand that on both sides of issues.

  67. I wish you would post the results of the survey from a few weeks ago. I’d like to know how other readers come down on these issues.

  68. Would you want your mom to get it from some yuppy who wants to get out of their house to travel before they should. Think about your mom. DON’T TRAVEL. You may give it to someone else’s mom who may die because of YOU. Shame on you!!!

  69. Test upon arrival – Does this really work? If you catch it on the plane from someone else, will the test reliably pick that up? If not, these tourists will be roaming Iceland, convinced they are negative.

  70. You should go and report back. I would love to hear about your experience. Everyone has their own level of “risk” with this pandemic and you are free to travel how you want.

  71. If everyone in the world had just gone home and stayed home 2 months ago the whole world would have got on top of this, found all the current cases say it out and by now we could have all gone back to normal. Countries like Iceland, and where I live, New Zealand did this and beat it. But countries like the USA and UK where everyone was to worries about their rights, and not Their responsibilities mean this hasn’t happened. Now that NZ is pretty much clear the last thing we want is plane loads of Americans flying in and potentially putting us back to square one. Keep your dollars, sort yourselves out then see if the rest of the world is ready to let you in.

  72. @stephanie you would feel safer taking a train in NYC to the airport, than going to Florida? NY has more cases than anywhere in the world.

    @lucky I think your plan to isolate before and after since you have the means to do so makes traveling a more responsible endeavor for you than many others. Yes there’s still risk of catching it while on the way there, while there, and way back but since it’s pretty easy to follow common sense social distancing practices while there and you don’t have to be around high risk people in the US after you return, personally I would go if I was in your situation. My real contemplation would be when to go? I’m not sure if I would be on the first few flights there but I would maybe wait until July to try and see what reports are coming out about the process at the airport and effectiveness of the measures.

  73. @Luke: Thank you as well. Low testing equals low cases!: The man’s a moron with only one care in the world: To hold onto power no matter how much suffering for others it takes.

    That being said, I love to travel as much as anyone and more than most. I can’t wait to get back in 1A and head off to new adventures or just back to work, I travel Internationally for business. As an additional push, my Fiancé and I set 2020 as our year to get married low key and take a great Honeymoon (back to Fiji is top of the list). The problem is that Fiji has done a stellar job of keeping Covid out of the country by taking it very seriously. I’d hate to be the ugly American to come along and inadvertently start a Hot-Spot in such a beautiful place with loving people. Also a US State Department warning level of DO NOT TRAVEL would likely prevent my International travel policy and repatriation benefits from covering Covid-related issues. Add to that, it’s not likely they would let us in without a 15 day quarantine coming from the Country with the most cases on the planet. Regretfully, we are not there yet.

  74. OMG people…obviously the President was referring to the fact that when we compare countries and case counts, it’s easy to have a low case count if you don’t test. Thus testing has to be taken into consideration.

    It isn’t rocket science.

  75. @Colin/Greg – feel free to share your source that it definitely wasn’t Covid…literally every new source says that he did (and he indicates he did). Just because he tested negative “on the other side” doesn’t mean he didn’t have it.

  76. This thing is not going away for weeks or months. Likely way into next year. Most things will HAVE to open up- then it’s personal choice on a) how much risk to take and b) how well you are willing to follow protocols (masks/frequent hand washing/etc) to not infect others and c) how well you think airlines, restaurants etc. have adapted to the “new normal”. I am 66 and will end up travelling before it’s it’s safe because otherwise it could be a couple of years. The “good” news is that planes are flying full so maybe they will be able develop new procedures quickly.

  77. @UA-NYC – Umm…literally the only source that says he got/has it is….him. And also that he got it on a flight. And also that he got it through it eyeballs. It’s all guesses (and most likely with a particular narrative to push given his employer).

    All of the science (FOUR actual tests) indicate he does not have COVID-19. He isn’t even counted in the vastly undercounted case counts.

  78. I’m scheduled to go to Iceland at end of July. This trip was booked last year in combination of Nordic countries. Right now I have yet to cancel my flights. I have no idea if other Nordic countries will open up by July. And even if they are open, I’m unlikely to go as no point of going to a place where I can’t enjoy cultural aspect of the country: ie restaurants, museums, talking to locals, etc. Iceland is obviously different since it’s about nature and not so much cultural experience. I look forward to read about people’s experience to Iceland post June 15 before making up my mind. With that said, if travelers aren’t tested at boarding gates before they get on airplanes to Iceland, I unlikely will go since I’m not interested in possibly getting infected on an airplane and then get quarantined in a foreign country for 14 days (or worse yet be in a hospital for over 14 days). That just doesn’t sound like my type of fun.

  79. Daughter and I looking at Iceland for Sept. The Maldives are also looking to open up this summer but almost no way to get there since nobody will let you transit thru their country right now. If that changes, we’ll head there instead.

    I’m not worrying about getting back in.

  80. Lol, I flew a t-con again today. For fun.
    Been doing it every week, for fun.

    Over 240,000 people flew YESTERDAY.
    And we still have people saying ‘Stay Home!’ like a bunch of uneducated sheep.

    You’re ‘contemplating’ travel?
    Just get on a plane
    Flights are cheap, it’s the safest way to travel in the world.

    Let the sheep stay home and feel self-righteous about their ignorance.
    To them, no risk will ever be acceptable.

    2 weeks to flatten the curve turned into 2 months ‘until there’s a vaccine’
    These people will never be happy.

    They are probably unemployable millennial gig-workers who get paid more on unemployment than they do washing dishes.

    Let the lazy stay home. The rest of us productive people are working, traveling and living normal lives.

    Me, I’m home for 2.5 days, then back on a T-con on Monday afternoon.
    I’ll be Delta Diamond before you know it at this rate.

    Easily the best traveling I’ve ever done. Magical.

    There isn’t anything to ‘think about’ – unless you’re just a dunce who watches the news and lacks a brain to think for yourself.

    Get out there, the world needs you.

  81. Personally I would say travel ONLY because of life and death issues i.e seeing someone about to pass away or you need a life saving medical procedure. Anything remotely close to “would be nice if..” or “just want a break” or “I miss traveling” or “isn’t it safer in country xyz” then it’s a big fat NO. Let the travel industry spend the summer sorting out their workflow. You need to ask yourself can you live with yourself if you got sick and passed it on to someone else. If you can then do want you like because you will anyway no matter what people say. It’s not like you’ll never travel again or have to wait 5 years. Time to focus on new things.

  82. @Colin – let me guess…trust a virologist/epidemiologist…or you, who makes the claim that we have been able to “stop the spread of this disease in its tracks”, when it’s flat or rising outside of the NE.

    Yeah, not a contest.

  83. What some people aren’t getting in the comments despite (hopefully) reading the article is that this is a plan for next month, things could change by then and I dont think its likely Lucky would go if things get worse.

  84. Stay home! So what if your business is losing money and your industry is in ruins? Even if it saves one life, you should stay under home arrest until all of us are protected from the virus. So what if you will never be able to make money of your live passion? We’re all in this together!

  85. @UA-NYC – Think I’ll go with trusting the FOUR tests (all negative).

    And yes, if the democratic blue states in the NE could actually protect their nursing homes and their people, and have reasonable policies, this crisis would have been a lot better. We wouldn’t have had a need to prove that we could stop the spread. Unfortunately, we did.

  86. @UA-NYC – And just because you need the help, “flat” would indicate stopping the spread.

    COVID is only rising in states that never had a major issue to begin with.

    But go on, keep pushing the misinformation.

  87. Ben (Lucky), Curious that you appear to be more concerned about international tourism than domestic tourism. American hospitality workers also have families to feed. I get that you are uncomfortable with the differing governor interpretations on when it is “safe to open,” but I would have thought you would conduct due diligence and found an appropriate state/city to visit in the USA. Just saying.

  88. @Colin – “flat” is not stopping the spread when it’s 25K cases / 2K deaths a day consistently…keep pushing that Trump misinformation though! He’d be proud.

  89. @Stuart….. you are correct in your opening line. Yes, you are going to ” take a lot of heat” for your remarks.
    I have crossed swords with you in the past on this blog, and do not shy away from doing it again now. Your conclusions that travel should exclusively be limited to business owners on business is so egocentric . You must be a ” business” owner. But wait…. yes, of course, ( as you wrote) you ARE a business owner. What a surprise!

  90. If you’re afraid, stay home. Let the rest of us live our lives. Some of you are either fools, or evil—can’t tell.

  91. Def go to Iceland. Have fun!!!! I have travel booked to the Philippines in August where I own a home and am most definitely going. Don’t really care what all of the negative nellies on this site think. They can stay home forever as far as I care. I will take extra precautions but am always health conscious when I fly. That did not start with COVID 19.

  92. Lucky: VERY well thought out.

    The answer is that the virus sets the schedule, and I wouldn’t even consider planning a trip until a week before. Too many variables changing unpredictably don’t allow for planning.

    On Iceland: the Iceland tourism law doesn’t exist; it’s a proposal. The country may only open to countries that have very low or no infections. As tests miss the virus in its incubation phase, it’s in the self-interest of a country to start accepting people from no and low- infected countries first. You live in a high-infection country.

    On the economy (from comments): the economy exists to make people better; an economy that kills people is not an economy worth having. The opportunity to eliminate the virus that many countries took advantage of has been squandered by the U.S. leadership, so certain sectors have been permanently damaged until a vaccine comes around. People have to stop whining and have to deal with it. The time for action was January.

    Finally, I didn’t read you taking health coverage in consideration. If you get infected, you will be stuck in Iceland and could face ruinous health bills; most countries with free health care like Iceland do charge foreigners, for obvious reasons. Many plans are written not to cover travel in violation of official U.S. warnings to keep their premiums lower. You need to get good at reading the fine print/evidence of coverage documents.

  93. Fascinating to find all the experts. Our family is actually involved in the actual investigation and management of “hotspots” of COVID-19.
    The situation does have marked political overtones, helped along by media who are loving the “all COVID all the time” because of the ratings with captive audiences.
    The one thing that is clear to us is that the disease is not as lethal or explosive as forecast. I see a lot of similarities with this event and 9/11 in the response, which ultimately results in a lot of theater, wasted time, money and energy.
    For us, who are actually dealing with this day in and day out, the decision making process is characterized by competing political, medical and special interest involved in a decision making process that really does not listen to many of us in the front lines.
    Bottom line: Open it up. Travel. Life has never had guarantees. If you want to make decisions and lead your life based upon your fears and worries, that is your choice. This is not said with any sarcasm or negative inference. Some of us are more risk averse than others, and some of us really do not want to live our lives based upon the worst case scenario.
    And for those who start with the tirades of self righteousness, calling the idea of opening it up selfish and short sighted, you are no more likely to forecast the future than anyone else, and at some point we cannot be indefinitely forced to lead our lives based upon the most fearful among us. Trust me, this shutdown has brought about many unforeseen negative consequences beyond the obvious, and the future looks bleaker every day the shutdown is extended.
    Best wishes to all. Hope we all stay healthy.

  94. Traveling sooner rather than later is a great idea! Viruses exist for a reason, after all: to seek out, infect, and destroy weak systems and infrastructure. Removes the weeds from an otherwise beautiful garden…. Eradicates infected limbs from an otherwise healthy tree…. The faster we can spread this across all populations on the planet, the better off our species will be. It must be especially refreshing to bear witness to all the people out in public wearing masks, but being accompanied by their beloved, unmasked pets that — as it turns out — are just as capable of carrying and transmitting COVID-19 to humans. Brilliantly deceptive move to facilitate the clandestine spread of the disease.

  95. I can only really speak for my own country which has handled the containment of the virus quite well – We locked down our states and territories and we have had zero cases in my state for newly 3 weeks – Our borders are closed to international travel and we don’t anticipate accepting international pax until sometime next year ( with the exception of repatriation flights for Australian residents returning ) Domestically we are looking at establishing air service in July-August, there was a plan which had massive testing for everyone who felt they needed to be and at no cost to the individual, unfortunately the US is a country with a massive population that appears to not have an efficient testing plan with not everyone being on the same page, I guess you have to weigh up your personal need to travel for your livelihood or whether you are just bored and want to go somewhere. If you are doing the right thing like social distancing etc and your neighbour isn’t then are you prepared to place yourself at the risk of succumbing to this deadly virus

  96. It’s funny. What started as Trumpers all screaming for their “freedom” has now added spoiled and entitled brats like Huffington Post writer, Robert Schrader, and Ben all saying, “I demand my spa vacation!!”

    They are morphing now, these two camps, completely oblivious to the fact that widespread leisure travel is going to reveal the complete mess of the response that was never taken in this country. Instead of a national lock down at the start we let states decide themselves. And now? Fragmented outbreaks that will spread to places thought safe because we are lured into thinking all is normal. Poor leadership. Denial.

    America is a big Cruise Ship at sea ready to drift to the biggest outbreak of all. This Fall.

  97. There’s some really bad posts but the post by Gizzly takes the cake. I quote “ Stay home! So what if your business is losing money and your industry is in ruins? Even if it saves one life, you should stay under home arrest until all of us are protected from the virus. So what if you will never be able to make money of your live passion? We’re all in this together! “

    Using that logic we should not drive as we could kill someone on the highway, we should not build anything as someone might die on the job site etc etc. If your business fails, your industry crumbles you have no way to support yourself aside from savings. Then you don’t eat, you don’t go to the doctor, you lose housing and so on. Believe it or not folks there are bigger problems out there then the damm Coronavirus. Grizly and others your logic is simply crazy!!!

  98. @Ben – The two factors most relevant to whether its responsible to travel for leisure are (i) risk to yourself and (ii) risk to others. You are absolutely right that not all travel is created equal, either in terms of the destination or in terms of the way there. You’re also right that domestic travel is not necessarily safer than international travel. A number of your plans (e.g. isolating before travel, focusing on outdoor travel etc) do mitigate some of that risk. You also want to limit the duration you are potentially exposed to the virus (don’t stay anywhere with others too long – somewhat difficult on a plane) and the amount of people you interact with (particularly in enclosed spaces). This is because it doesn’t just matter whether you’re exposed, but what quantity of the virus you are exposed to.

    Given your cautiousness, I think next month may be reasonable for you to travel. People seem to think the longer they wait, the better – but the mere length of time passing isn’t relevant. As US states ‘open up’, the infection will spread and the risk of infection will increase over time. For this reason, its safer to travel before the risk of infection rises too much. Many scientific estimates show an increase in risk up until and including the Fall, even with new drug treatments predicted by that time.

  99. UA-NYC – Existence of links is awaiting moderation, but until then, I guess you’ll have to search for the stats yourself.

    Raw case count numbers are down while testing is growing exponentially. Positive test percentage down to mid single digits.

    Literally the definition of stopping the spread.

  100. I intend to travel, but I actually think it’s more responsible to go to places that already have a fairly high incidence. No matter how sure Iceland is, I would feel terrible if they spiked shortly after my visit and I had to question whether I played a major role in the cause. The same doesn’t apply to places that have already been ravaged by C-19 and where community spread dwarfs imported cases.

    Europe awaits..!

  101. You lost me, and all respect for your article when you quoted Trump out of context to make him look bad. While I do agree that Trump has many flaws, when people like you and other “journalists” personally misquote him, or print lies, in order to further your agenda of him being an idiot (which I agree with at times that he can act like an idiot) you lose respect from people like me. That is, those in the middle who look at things from both sides before passing judgment, if at all. He was talking about why the U.S. has such high case numbers. Because we test more people than any other country. He was NOT saying that we test less to show less cases. He was bragging that we are the best in testing, and as a result we have higher cases than those that test less. So, in reality, his quote that you used, when taken in context of what you were talking about, proved exactly the opposite of what you were trying to say. Our leaders do care about testing. Our president cares so much about testing that he wants to be number one in the world at testing, inspite of the fact that it also makes us number one in cases.
    This is a travel blog, not a political site. Passing off misinformation will quickly alienate half of your audience.

  102. Ben, the reason you have this blog is because you took risks and were willing to bend rules in pursuit of your avgeek passions. If you play this by the book, your blog won’t much be worth reading when the vaccine rolls out in 2022

    On the other hand, if you get out there, you might offend some readers, but they’re the mostly the ones who were already staying home before all this started.

    The key is that Iceland wants tourists, the trip is low risk, and you want to go, so do it!

  103. I’m flying today. The flights aren’t full and the airports have been mostly empty. The experience is both saddening and like being in the twilight zone. I’ve worn my N95 mask at all times inside public places.

    Not everyone on the flight was wearing a mask which wasn’t appealing to me.

    As I’m an essential worker I needed to take this trip for work but would rather have not. I feel like I took all steps necessary to protect myself from the virus including hand sanitizer, hospital grade wipes and safety glasses to protect myself from touching my eyes.

  104. I’m heading to Utah in less than two weeks. The vendors and hoteliers I personally spoke with were ecstatic that we are coming. They’re excited to host us. These people don’t want handouts. They want customers. I’m happy to oblige. Unapologetic.

  105. @Colin – seems you don’t understand the meaning of “exponential” – that would suggest 10x week over week. No matter how you pretend that, similar to Trump, not going to happen.

    2 days ago – “Nineteen of the states with at least 5,000 reported cases of COVID-19 are seeing infections rise, Reuters found.”

    Stopping the spread! Lol.

  106. Lucky…GO. If you can get a flight and comply with any and all restrictions then go. Those that wish to hold off on travel can stay home. Everyone has to make a personal choice.

  107. Hmm, if the main concern is about tourism dependent people in the global south, Iceland doesn’t fit that bill.

  108. Two main issues that I think will stop others following your plan – (1) lack of travel insurance (all but essential travel is currently not allowed therefore not covered plus most insurers now specifically exclude COVID-19 from any new trips booked) and (2) most people don’t have jobs where they can self isolate for 14 days either side of the holiday! On Iceland specifically I don’t see how testing on arrival helps if you catch it on the plane.

  109. “Based on that I have a follow-up question, and I’ll keep this specific to the travel industry — what’s the “real” cost of potentially no tourism for several years? Not in terms of the stock market or in terms of investments from billionaires, but rather in terms of the roughly 10% of the global population that’s directly or indirectly employed in the tourism sector.”

    This is frustrating on a level that’s unbelievable. Literally this is the concern of almost everyone pushing back on the present shutdowns. But just before this you addressed “the stock market”— people keep insisting that a concern for our economy is putting profits over lives. No, that has never been the discussion. You cannot have it both ways by virtue signaling when someone notes economic concern by bringing up the stock market and then pretend that “employment” is a different discussion.

  110. Emotions aside, there’s one important obstacle still in your way – the US gov’t travel advice (do not travel). Without that being lifted, you are free to leave (as in – you don’t live in the USSR) but you are on your own abroad, your travel medical insurance is invalid – you get sick, your problem, your money.
    What set me off, personally, in your above post is “hotels and restaurants”. It seems you want to go to Iceland and have your typical holiday? Stay in a nice place, eat good food, etc. – you justify this by claiming it’ll save jobs. If you’d go to Iceland, rent one of those crazy vans that you sleep in, and go to supermarkets, I’d say you are minimizing risk to yourself, Ford, and others – I could say you have an insatiable itch to travel, and you’re only increasing the risk in short moments – getting to the airport, flying, renting the van. But otherwise? You are out of your mind to think that going to Iceland will be “normal” – and you don’t seem to be the camping type…

  111. @UA-NYC – That’s not what exponential means. Maybe look it up.

    I’m done arguing with you. You clearly don’t live in a world of reality. Sad!

  112. Very thoughtful post! YES; please travel. There are so many paranoid, misinformed and ignorant commentators on this thread.

    As Lucky correctly points out, the fact is there may NEVER be a vaccine. And IF one is created it may only be partially effective. Per the CDC, the flu vaccine only reduces your risk by 40% so the same is likely true for any COVID vaccine. Even with a vaccine, you may still get sick from COVID and die.

    What happened to “flatten the curve”?? That 2 week lockdown was supposed to be so we didn’t overwhelm our hospitals. Thankfully that did not happen and “flatten the curve” has now somehow morphed into “lock yourself in your house until a vaccine is created”. This is lunacy!! What is wrong with people!!

    And news flash …. people are not staying at home; they are out and about. So here is a thought; since people are not actually staying home and are roaming around Home Depo, Lowes, Wal Mart and the grocery store, why not have everybody go back to your office and work and save the world that way. Your office is likely far safer than at those mass gathering places like Wal Mart, etc. If we don’t get back to living, there won’t be anything left to live for. We have cut off our nose to spite our face and are committing economic suicide.

    It is possible to walk and chew gum at the same time (ie: we can reopen society and be careful and safe at the same time and take extra precautions to protect the “at risk” and elderly)

    Lucky, I look forward to your trip report. Safe travels!!

    PS .. before you attack me, know that I am not a “covid denier”. Just like Lucky, I am taking this very seriously. It is possible to take the virus serious and be practical and rational at the same time. Plus, a very dear friend of mine lost her son to COVID, so I know how serious this can be.

  113. The censorship on this blog is getting intense. I love when Ben posts something that even he knows is going to be controversial and full of opinions, asks his readers than to be “polite,” but chooses later who to censor when they don’t quite fit his narrative. Or, in my case, those of his buddies like Robert Schrader, the Huffington Post contributor that loves to spout off here.

  114. Stop trying to justify unnecessary travel. What you are proposing is the exact definition of “irresponsible.”

    You have absolutely no compelling reason to do this – zero – other than you just want to. That’s the definition of NOT being responsible. Shame on you.

    You’re going to risk infecting and possibly killing countless people just because you’re tired of staying at home. Look in the mirror and repeat that…

  115. Lucky,

    Correct me I’m wrong, but none of the re-opening proposals (for Iceland or elsewhere) address this basic scenario:

    “What happens if I take a trip to [Iceland], and on Day 4 I feel sick, go to a doctor, and find out I have Coronavirus? Not even a severe case, mind you, but I nonetheless must quarantine for two weeks. Nearly all travel insurance excludes COVID-19 related consequences, so who’s paying for the extra two weeks in a hotel during peak season?”

  116. @Stuart — I really feel bad for you. In addition to being scared of your own shadow—and wrong—you seem to be very angry. I wish you peace and joy in your life.

  117. @Robert Schrader. Thanks for your concern, I am actually quite happy and fulfilled. Without having to [personal attack on fellow commenter removed]

  118. Some people need to understand that with recent viruses, there have been no successful vaccines. We can hope for one, but we need to live with this virus. If one wants to stay home for the rest of the year, so be it…but if one wants to travel and is either healthy and being responsible, or has developed antibodies and therefore has immunity, you should travel. My opinion is that 90% of this is psychology, this being the topic of 24/7 the last two months, all people do is talk of the virus, talk of anyone they know who tested positive, or even passed away…but had this been In January and someone passed away, and no one heard about COVID, would they really mention it? I don’t talk about the health of others, or tell people someone I know who passed away…these days everyone is doing it because of the virus that has been covered 24 hours a day for the last 3 months. Think about it. Fear is very powerful, but we all can overcome this. Some may want to stay home, others may want to take a deep breath and return to some level of normality. In the end, in these seemingly negative times….people should do what they enjoy and what makes them happy. For some that’s sitting home for 5 years, for me it’s to travel. And when the rules are relaxed, I will absolutely do it.

  119. @Colin
    Sure, testing is increasing exponentially if you use an exponent of 1. So yes, you’re technically correct, but that’s a misleading use of language. Also, ‘stopping the spread’ would imply zero new cases. What we’ve done is slow the spread, and the US has not slowed the spread to the same extent that other countries have.

    I have 4th of July weekend penciled in for my first return trip, just a quick hop to visit friends. I’m not particularly concerned about getting the virus myself, but I don’t want to risk spreading it in my community and I would prefer not to self-quarantine afterwards, so I don’t mind holding off until we know more about how well reopening is working.

  120. First Ben, I totally agree with Iceland’s initiative. I do have some concerns however…first being if you land there and choose testing and the test result is positive…two weeks quarantine and there goes the vacation. Also….one single test has yet to be proven 100% reliable so you could get a false result. I am still planning for Yellowstone in mid September. Montana’s part is open and Wyoming’s is not. Even here in the states there are 14 day quarantines on arrival so if still in effect – no vacation. Even debating the mode of transport – air, rail or auto from the east coast. Auto seems safest but would add ten days to the round trip. Amtrak now as with flights requires a mask – a mask for 50 hours on the train? I hope a valid TREATMENT can be found – that would be the best way to get back to some semblance of normal. I do not agree with some suggesting nature should take its course with older people – those dying in nursing homes and vets home are 70% veterans which we should be honoring and helping. Happy to see you are looking at all angles.

  121. Zymm – Understand your point, but the exponent is greater than 1. Not hugely, but greater than 1. Very important when the number of new cases is decreasing each day, while testing is (slightly) exponentially growing.

  122. @ Stuart — It’s one thing for you to criticize our work, but personal attacks on other commenters are unnecessary and unhelpful. Please review the commenting guidelines (linked above comment box) if you have questions.

  123. Choose for yourself with the caveat that you are responsible for yourself. The State Department is telling Americans Do Not Travel. So if you go and have a problem please don’t expect a repatriation flight. Agree or disagree with government actions but fully own your choices.

  124. @Colin – keep twisting yourself into pretzels to defend a very slight increase in testing increases week over week (which no one save for you would describe as “exponential”).

    And, per your original claim, if the disease were truly “stopped in its tracks”, you really wouldn’t need any new testing at all, now would you.

  125. @ Tiffany…Please quote my “personal attack”. Let others be the judge. If someone of a profile (and a friend of yours) is going to throw out shade I will absolutely counter. And in no way was I disrespectful. I invite you to show me how I was. If you are going to run a blog get some backbone as to not defend your precious friends who get called out. Namely, Robert Schrader.

  126. WAIT! Testing will get better as molecular becomes available (much more accurate than NAAT). Serology as a correlate of immunity will be proven or disproven but it’s in it’s infancy now. Public health measures here will not get much better as we have proven our ability to tolerate a great deal of excess death. Countries with a more coherent and coordinated approach may find a way to safely allow travelers to return. Your risk is low, but if infected, you can spread the virus as effectively as anyone. If you can afford to stay home and stay safe, why not? To risk participating in the potential spread of a lethal virus for nonessential reasons seems selfish.

  127. Tiffany. I, for one, am interested to see the “personal attack” on R. S. Only because it was censored and not because I am morbidly interested in tabloid crap. Were guide lines really interfered with in a negative context?

  128. @ Stuart — Well, I don’t know Robert, and I don’t know if *Ben* knows Robert, but we’re hardly friends, and he certainly gives us a tremendous amount of criticism and somewhat-good-natured grief here in the comments. I don’t agree with his perspective on most of this, but he certainly didn’t “throw shade” at you, or even address you. I don’t see how he’s “promoting himself in the comments” other than using his real name.

    Rather than discussing differences, you started by criticizing him, his occupation, and his lifestyle personally, using some pretty specifically loaded word choices.

    So I don’t know if this is a pre-existing spat that y’all are having on some other site, or what I missed as to why he upsets you so much, but if you want to comment here, I’ll invite you to refrain from the personal attacks.

  129. @Tiffany.

    Robert Schrader said, “If you’re afraid, stay home. Let the rest of us live our lives. Some of you are either fools, or evil—can’t tell.”

    But yet you censor my response about his shallow and silly comment where I mention his shirtless blogs promoting his “dreamy” travel coaching? If he chooses to promote himself in the comments he should be ready to take the criticism as well.

    Really, double standard?

  130. @ Stephen Morrissey — If someone is going to take the effort to Google another reader so as to lace their response with innuendo and personal details, rather than engaging on the substance of their comments…I don’t think it’s necessary for us to host that kind of sniping here.

  131. As this is an informative blog, I hope a truce can be negotiated as I really do enjoy the general content and substance.

  132. @Tiffany, I can assure you that I have never engaged in the behaviour you cite, so I have to assume you are not referring to me. Thank you. Steve.

  133. @Stephen – You asked a question. Tiffany was kind enough to give the time and effort to answer.

  134. @ Stephen Morrissey — You definitely have not! Nor do most people! I was just answering your question, since you asked for the drama 🙂

  135. @Tiffany. I don’t need to Google. He is known. And you know it. Just like the anti-TPG comments here that you never delete. Perhaps as it’s “convenient?”

    If you choose to be a “face” in the industry as Robert does. And you choose to comment on this site as that person, you better be willing to take the angle of questioning credibility and content as to those comments. Pretty simple. You don’t like it? He gets hurt and is all sensitive? Tell him to stop self promoting here. He can comment anon if he wants to go controversial. But if he wants to flex his shirtless chest and expect everyone to bow to his greatness the internet is probably not for him. Or you.

    He is baiting using his profile. He deserves it. Stop with the “exposing his profile stuff.”

  136. I have every reason to think that you’re not entertaining this as a question at all… I expect that you have evaluated your own risk situation and have decided that the benefits are greater than the risks for you, and that’s fine.

    And or all those people going on about how travel shouldn’t be political… I’m here ot tell you that you are wrong. *everything* is political. If it wasn’t then you wouldn’t be whining about this.

  137. While it is not surprising that this post has generated a response from at least one libertarian fundamentalist encouraging you to travel to Iceland, doing so conflicts with the well documented recommendation from public health officials advising against leisure travel. Let’s remember that you were late to cease travel to begin with (the trip to Central America). It is very disappointing that you now are considering an irresponsible trip and, libertarian politics aside, using your influence to post about it.

  138. @LAXJEFF

    “I’m flying today. The flights aren’t full and the airports have been mostly empty”

    While many aren’t ; SOME flights are full. If you choose to fly there is no guarantee of social distancing.

  139. Ben, longtime reader here. I live and work in South Korea. I’m sure you’ve seen all the reports about how well the government has handled it here. We are months, if not years ahead of the US and Europe on our timeline in battling this. We are currently living 90% normal lives. We are going to the gym, restaurants, etc. But schools have not reopened and we are wearing masks (which 95%+ of people adhere to). We have even overcome the flash clusters that come with opening back up. Which reminds me, you should check out the unfortunate LGBT angle on the latest one.

    Anyway, I also have elderly parents in Miami that I would like to see. The issue is not being in Korea, or being in their home/neighborhood. The issue is all the travel and exposure I would have in between the two locations. Ben, I don’t think this is a good move. If you want to discuss this more please reach out to me via email.

  140. @ Iain

    “If everyone in the world had just gone home and stayed home 2 months ago the whole world would have got on top of this, found all the current cases say it out and by now we could have all gone back to normal. Countries like Iceland, and where I live, New Zealand did this and beat it. But countries like the USA and UK where everyone was to worries about their rights, and not Their responsibilities mean this hasn’t happened.”

    If responsible leaders here & Europe followed scientific advice early instead of wishing the virus away, we would be in much better condition. Compare South Korea testing, tracing and quarantine results compared to USA. It was the lack of leadership and not worries about personal rights. Science vs politics.

  141. So I’m not an expert in this, but in this debate, I think it’s worth calling attention to some academic research, which essentially finds that the *optimal* lockdown policy (from the perspective of reducing population mortality) is to lockdown vulnerable members of the population (i.e., the elderly or people with pre-existing conditions) and to *not* lock down younger people with no pre-existing conditions. I’m copying one example of an academic paper that reached this finding below, although there are several. Many of these researchers actually believe that the across-the-board lockdown policies that we currently have probably will kill more people in the end than a policy that encourages people like @lucky (and other young, healthy people) to go about their business, while trying to lock down vulnerable populations.

    The reason for this is that you actually want people who will not die from COVID to contract it, because that will create “herd immunity” faster. (While it hasn’t been definitively proven that having COVID results in immunity, most scientists think it’s very likely that it does.) It’s similar to how vaccinating everyone who can take a vaccine protects the entire population, even those people who had a medical issue that precludes them from safely obtaining the vaccine.

    I raise this because I think it’s important to recognize that everyone — including, if not especially, the government — is making decisions in the face of incredible uncertainty. And I don’t think it’s appropriate to assume that maximal lockdown is somehow the most “responsible” or the “safest” policy. To posit just one hypothetical, imagine @lucky does get COVID in Iceland but isolated himself for some period of time on his return: His elderly parents would actually probably be safer in that scenario, because by contracting it through a controlled exposure, he obtained immunity without exposing them.

    In the end, I think everyone should decide for themselves what risk level they’re comfortable with. We should take precautions that we believe are likely to work, but when it comes to something like this, no one actually knows whether individual decisions to travel will make things worse or better. (There’s a good argument that it’s better! At least where you’re talking about young, healthy people traveling . . . .). So @Lucky shouldn’t apologize and should basically just do what he wants. If he’s comfortable going to Iceland, power to him!

    Agree with @Ben (not Lucky) and @Alonzo in this regard.

  142. @ Stuart — Hmm, well, outside of his interactions here I have no idea who Robert is (sorry Robert), but no one “deserves” to be attacked just “because it’s the Internet.” At least not here. We delete and block those comments/commenters — yours was edited as a courtesy because it seemed like a one-time slip, and we appreciate that folks are tense right now pretty much across the board.

    Listen — it’s a stressful time. A lot of people are worried about their businesses and livelihood, and for the most part folks are just trying to do the best they can. There are a lot of things to consider, and there are going to be myriad discussions and debates and disagreements over the next months and years. If we can try and do so with maybe more kindness than feels necessary, or at least a little more calmness, it might help.

  143. I’d say that Lucky should not fly in June but reassess the situation in 2 months
    or July. In this crisis, information and knowledge is changing. Awhile ago, it was ok not to wear masks (I thought that sounded suspicious). Now it is not ok.

    In July, Lucky could reassess so that any travel would come no earlier than early August.

  144. No, it’s totally irresponsible to be contemplating international travel at this time. You may well seek to minimize the risk, but it’s premature, completely ( as in 100%) unnecessary, represents a risk to others. All for no legitimate purpose, other than some child-like wanderlust.
    Stick it out for another 6 months and then review again.

  145. I actually think your plan is pretty well thought out. We’re debating same. We have an Italy trip scheduled for October and our focus is on safety and the right thing to do. We’d love to support them but also want it to be the right thing to do. We’ve been very careful during all of this but also feel the country can’t lockdown forever. I do wish the US had done a better job on tracing and testing.

  146. Our founding fathers would be ashamed of us seeing us living in our disgusting state of paranoia and fear. What a complete disgrace and the politicians who fear monger saying we need to locked up until we have a cure (who knows when that will be) are clueless. Time for people to say no (ignore) and live their lives.

    Lucky needs to travel. He and everyone else has a moral imperative to considering the destruction that has been caused by the fear mongering diktats.

  147. Ben, Ben, Ben! Why all the doom and gloom negativity?

    “I totally understand those who say they won’t travel until there’s a vaccine, and in many ways I at least agree with the sentiment. At the same time, that could take years, or might never happen, and if that’s the case, it will spell an end to global tourism.”

    Wow! I am shocked honestly. The impact of an end to global tourism will impact every country on the planet, a lot of countries won’t survive because they rely on tourism as number 1 source of their economy. This would potentially cause a global economic collapse. This wouldn’t be just the end of global tourism, this would potentially be a global end of human kind.

    Is it possible? Sure I guess anything is possible like winning a lottery, getting hit by lightning, an asteroid hitting earth, etc. Bottom line is that it’s highly unlikely. Human civilization survived numerous global pandemics throughout history and this was without scientific advances that we currently have and will have.

  148. In spite of all our differences in opinion (on this matter—I actually agree with you overwhelmingly on travel industry matters more broadly), you are a true professional. I have no idea why this Stuart guy has decided I’m his personal enemy, but I appreciate you turning down the temperature.

  149. I’d go with the travel advisory of your government. If they think traveling is safe(r), then yes. I don’t talk about politics, I stick to insurance coverage and safety protocols only. I would not travel if my government doesn’t lift its current travel advisory. If I get sick, my trip gets interrupted, or whatever, my insurance would refuse compensation (rightfully so). It’s not worth the risk.

  150. @Robert Schrader Because you are a self promoting tool? You have the audacity to insult people with a different opinion while using your profile to try and gather affection and pretend credibility? You are just a dude trying to sell your “Travel Coaching.” Travel coaching, translating to basically nothing. You are not a dude out there fighting the real battles with travel…trying to save your business and find a way to get from point A to point B to make sure your employees have a home in the days ahead. While we listen to you being upset that you can’t get your clients (or you) booked on spa weekends.

  151. Ben – Really enjoy your work, and have been wrestling with the same questions. Disappointed in your Trump quote, though. I think his comment was an explanation of why US infection rates are so high compared to other countries where there is less testing. You made it sound like he was advocating for less testing. Kind of a cheap shot. Be the hope, my friend.

  152. “I’m still conflicted about this”. Until the answer is “no”, stay home or enter at your own risk. You do you.

  153. @ Stuart — Please stop, or at least take it to the appropriate forum (maybe Robert has a page or feedback form somewhere if he does as much self-promotion as you claim?).

    I empathize with your concerns about your people and your business — we are dealing with that ourselves, and it’s hard and awful and generally sucks, and I’m sure you are spending as many sleepless nights trying to figure it out as we are. It’s really, really stressful.

    But ranting about other people or judging what they do/don’t do doesn’t solve any of those problems.

    We’re done going back and forth on this here, and I hope you can respect that.

  154. “It’s far from certain that there will ever be an effective vaccine”
    “If there is a vaccine, it’s unlikely to be widely available within the next year, and most likely it would take much longer than that”

    I’m surprised that I don’t hear more people making this point actually. I don’t think I read any comments on this post addressing it either, though I may have missed them. There is a kind of reckless charge and questionable optimism when it comes to creating a vaccine that could disappoint a lot of people in the end. I’d be skeptical of anyone that has skin in the game of being first to create the vaccine… in other words, people who stand to make a lot of money.

    The vaccine could be unsafe or not very effective, and just as likely the company (if it’s a private company) who makes the vaccine will want to charge a bunch of money for it, which would significantly hamper the goal of having it be widespread. Even until this day the flu vaccine costs money unless you have insurance, and not even half of the US gets it each year (it’s 60-65% for seniors).

    The point I’m making is don’t base your life on a vaccine and then be surprised if you wasted a bunch of time waiting for something that doesn’t pan out. It’s wise to be more careful than usual now of course, but it could behoove people who are not so vulnerable to learn how to live in this new environment instead of always hiding at home.

    BTW, I just flew from CA to Seattle today on Alaska, and they were totally faithful to their seat blocking. On the E175 there were ONLY window seats taken except for one case where there wasn’t anyone in the window seat anyway. Not that I have to sell Alaska Airlines to this blog but I’d recommend them during the pandemic for sure just based on my flight. They seem to be following through with their original promise.

  155. If global tourism ends, it will impact countries that depends largely on tourism but many countries will be fine without tourists. I suspect for countries like Italy, Maldives, Thailand, Indonesia (Bali), etc. where tourism is a large part of their GDP, end of global tourism will be devastating. But for countries like US, Russia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Taiwan, etc. will still flourish without international tourists as tourism is a small part of their GDP.

    I think global travel will open up when there is medicine that will alleviate/ cure Covid 19 symptoms quickly. I don’t necessarily think there is a need for a vaccine which may never be successfully developed anyways.

    I honestly don’t think all these stay at home orders work in the US as states are porous to each other. Frankly speaking we might as well just open up and let the chips fall where they may. You can’t pee on one side of the pool and expect the other side of the pool to be pee free can you? When every states have their own opening timeline, not to mention people who feel their liberty is being violated by having to wear a simple mask, then the war has already lost. American individualism is great most of the time. Unfortunately right now, we have to sacrifice that individualism and stand as a collective but significant amount of people are unwilling to do so. Thus I feel we might as well just go on with our normal lives and hope for the best. Stay at home/ wear face covers when in public orders only work if they are fiercely enforced.

  156. You must have gone to the same school as Chuck Todd. AlwaYs wanting to politicize with your out of context or selective context reporting.
    Oh well, that’s what the divisive haters do. Most Americans are used to it by now.
    You think you’re standing up for something when really you’re only tearing things down.

  157. My thoughts about the Robert/Stuart argument:

    I actually find Stuart’s comments to be intelligent and well expressed. He certainly has a point that Robert was insulting first (I thought that ‘evil’ comment right out of line).

    Still, as usual, I find Tiffany’s comments reasonable and eloquent. Dialling it all down should take priority at the moment.

    My thoughts on upcoming travel:

    I agree a vaccine doesn’t seem likely in the foreseeable future. Should we cancel travel until one is found, even if we’re not sure one will be? That seems unreasonable. At some point we have to weigh all the variables and decide… If a country wants tourists and is making efforts to maintain safety – and the airline transporting you is taking sensible precautions – then I would definitely consider going.

    It seems to me that we need to be having a conversation about how we can travel responsibly rather than if we will ever have a travel industry again.

  158. @Daniel D @ Kevin

    I agree with your statements but I tend to be more optimistic because what else is there? Everything is negative as is. The thing about the vaccine is that this a global issue not just US. I believe there are like 80 different companies trying to create a vaccine across the world and I believe someone will make a good and reliable vaccine.
    Also, it is true about the US individualism and it is part of the reason why we are leading the world in cases and deaths. Generally the more Westernized the country the more individual freedoms it has and the less people will follow the government orders. US, UK, France, Spain, Italy all fit the criteria. Most Asian countries know how to follow and trust the direction of the government such as South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong

  159. “ Doctors and scientists have repeatedly pointed out that we need more testing.

    Iceland gets that. Our leadership doesn’t.”

    Ben – save the politicized falsehoods. The United States has tested more people than the rest of the world combined. Let that sink in.

  160. I’m laughing at all the back and forth amongst Tiffany and Stuart and the rest.

    At least this post got page views. 🙂
    Why doesn’t the author moderate the comments — is that Tiffany’s job/punishment?

    Anyway, the author should go…if only to post an article and hopefully improve content here.

  161. Don’t hold your breath on a vaccine being perfect either. Could end up being more of a scenario where you get some resistance and have to diligently repeat the shots like the flu.

    People may still get occasionally get Covid in the future it and unfortunately die. Sooner or later we need to learn to live with that and that fact isn’t going to change in a few months.

    Before I say this, I will acknowledge that Covid is a much different virus than influenza and hasn’t mutated (yet, and hopefully ever) like influeza strains do, but . . . H1N1 caused Spanish Flu pandemic 102 years ago, has never been cured (Tamiflu does not count, it’s not that good of a drug), and pops up causing pandemics with new strains every so often (2009, for instance).

    Eventually we need to decide how much quality of life to give up over something that could be with us for life.

  162. Wow don’t think I’ve e we seen so many comments. For me it just isn’t time yet . This is a global event that will be remembered for generations. We all love travel it’s just not fair to accidentally prolong a tragic oops just thinking you might be helping some needy group by escaping cabin fever. We are fortunate to be able to stay home and S.I.P.

  163. @Tyler if you feel that being at best 7th in the world per 1M people as good for the supposedly greatest country in the world please let me know how it is in that rabbit hole you chose to climb in. But please, follow the idiot-in-chief to your hearts content. Just always remember that if you stop testing you won’t have any positives per that very stable genius. Or maybe by now you have ingested a little Clorox to make you immune. SMH

  164. Sigh…the stock market has never been, currently is not and never will be the economy. A total lockdown panic which has overcome the world is killing our economies — as in our ability to lead a normal life by feeding our families, providing shelter and clothing, etc. No one is arguing that it’s about the Dow Jones…please stop with that nonsense.

    Travel if you wish. It’s not a moral decision. And don’t apologize…good grief!

    For those who are fearful, please stay home for 27 more years. We’ll let you know when it’s safe to come out…I promise.

    I grew up conservative religious. I left that behind many years ago because of the sanctimonious crap almost always born of fear. Unfortunately, it feels like church every day now because apparently everyone has become a [email protected] priest or nun.

  165. @ Tyler — Not quite; the US has done more cumulative tests than many other countries have done cumulative tests, but is far from being more than the world combined (even just Spain, Italy, Germany and the UK combined is more than the US total). The US is also far behind in testing per capita, particularly given the scale of our outbreaks.

  166. This is deeply, deeply disappointing to read. Completely irresponsible. You are living in a global hotbed of the virus. You should NOT take any unnecessary travel, not domestically, and definitely not internationally. Stay home. Don’t be a vector for the virus, especially given the place in the world where you live. You will lose a LOT of readers if you decide to take unnecessary international travel at this time.

  167. @ Fathiss

    GMAB. Gotta love the Fox News covidiot mindset. Let’s see…..MTP reports on AG’s unconventional dropping of charges against a man who confessed to crimes. They used a clip that mischaracterized what the AG said (but was consistent with what the AG did.) They rightly got called out on it, and Chuck Todd immediately and publicly issued an explanation and unconditional apology. Sometimes journalists make errors. Real ones handle them like Chuck Todd did. It’s not like he promoted hydroxychloroquine to his audience as a treatment for COVID-19. But I’m sure that the fox folks will issue their apology on that someday…not.

    Ben, your travels could be guided by a simple risk analysis….what’s the BEST thing that can happen if you travel to Iceland, what’s the WORST thing that can happen if you travel to Iceland, and what’s the MOST LIKELY thing that will happen if you travel to Iceland? Not sure how often you physically see your mom, but I think her health challenges as a data point raises some worst case concerns for the analysis. COVID-19 is not something her son needs to bring home to her. This is based on a premise that air travel is inherently riskier than couch surfing.

  168. Ben – the tone of this article is ridiculous. You run a travel blog. You are a young guy. You’ve got a tremendous opportunity to set an example as someone who could travel responsibly. You can write about the precautions you would take. If you do travel and determine that it’s not possible to do it responsibly—YOUR READERS WILL BENEFIT FROM THIS!! You literally could save lives. Instead you’re flirting with an abstinence-only approach to travel which will only promote risky behavior. Don’t do that. Do the right thing.

  169. Lucky, I’m thinking along the same lines. I don’t think that traveling necessarily increases the risk and creates new infections, but irresponsible travel is likely to do so. Therefore I’m planning my first trips by car. Arguably, the risk of infection is higher when I drive to the grocery shopping than when I drive to a nice place and stay there in a well run hotel.

    Also I’m glad that Germany, Switzerland and Austria will open their mutual borders for tourism in mid June, as all three countries have very low infection rates and high testing in place now. Again, there is arguably no difference whether someone spends a weekend on the North, South or East Shore of Lake Constance. I’m aware that the same “package” also opens the borders to France, but I’m a bit more reluctant about this, given the much higher infection rates in France.

    Finally, about flying. I have not booked any flights, as yet, but I think with the relevant measures (i.e. everyone wearing face masks during boarding/deplaning), I think the risk is actually lower than in busses and trains, which have no hepa filters.

  170. @Tiffany, I love how cool-headed you mostly are, keep it up. I also always love your posts. Looking forward to a post covid world with more of your travel posts

    @Tyler I really do not understand your govt’s fixation with those numbers. If you do want to brag about numbers then it’s only fair to consider per-capita testing. This of course would favour smaller and wealthier countries, hence Iceland is top as they’ve tested about 16% of their population (~300K). The UAE and Bahrain are also doing great in that respect, the US is at about 3% and mind you those numbers are not individual tests, but let’s imagine they are, since all countries are basically reporting overall tests rather than individual tests. On the flip side, one could argue that US is not the worst hit with regards to death per capita. Belgium fares way worse and indeed many of the hardest hit European countries fare worse than the US if taken as a country and not individual states. The more extensive the testing regime is, the closer to reality the numbers are.

    With countries/Regions like Taiwan, HK (politics aside please, not trying to annoy anyone), while per capita testing isn’t high, they started early, have aggressive contact tracing and high level of surveillance, hence their numbers are a good reflection of reality. Also as someone mentioned the sense of individual freedom found in the west isn’t high in Asia

    Lucky, I understand your logic, but honestly, I don’t think countries should open up borders to the US till the end of the year at least. You guys (generalizing as in the US, don’t take it personal) tend to be so selfish with high level of entitlement. It does seem to be useful with innovation and economy but not with public health as collective spirit is better. You guys should keep your shenanigans within your borders

  171. @Ken: very well written and your perspective by location and numbers is spot on. As a US passport holder with residency in Spain, I completely support your views on the US and the recommendation of travel restrictions you suggest.

  172. As the point of sheltering is to flatten the curve until the health care system can easily handle new cases with appropriate PPE, I think it is fine to consider travel as long as you continue to take precautions like wearing a mask and frequent hand washing and sanitizing. Personally I am more concerned about travel in the US, as there are many people acting irresponsibly (as in the bars in Wisconsin). We can’t shut down life until there is a vaccine. Also, you are not in a high risk category as you are young, fit and don’t have comorbidity factors. Go for it!

  173. Tyler, testing only has meaning when it is a percentage of the total population. Moron lies to put a spin on everything to suit his re-election agenda. Americans are not completely stupid, but we will see on November 3rd

  174. Tyler, testing only has meaning when it is a percentage of the total population. Moron lies to put a spin on everything to suit his re-election agenda. Americans are not completely stupid, but we will see on November 3rd.

  175. So how brand damaging and how stupid will you look if you contract COVID-19 on your travels? The consequences aren’t just health related…..

  176. Ben, you’ve acted as an admirable role model, taking the pandemic seriously but not hysterically. Hopefully I was part of the initial feedback that helped you out of complacency. But this is premature.

    Your reasons why it’d be safe to go to Iceland are sound. But your reasons why it was safe to go to Peru were sound, too. It’s not about your safety. It’s about being a node in a network of contagion. Minimizing transmission is like voting, or wearing a seatbelt: We do it not because it’s vital in our case, but because we want everyone to honor a rule-of-thumb. You are a public figure. People in the travel space follow your lead. What you blog will be normalized for, and replicated by, your fans.

    Yes, there will come a time, this year, when enough countries have experimented an Iceland model, and when the US situation has stabilized, such that the risk of reigniting networks of contagion from the world’s worst hotspots like the US is less than the benefit of rekindling global tourism. That time is not the very first instant it’s possible. That time is not next month.

  177. Not to be party pooper but can you even get international medical insurance that will cover Covid-19? II think it is too early to travel.

    I am stuck in a state with zero active Covid-19 cases and cannot leave the country due to the travel ban (Australians cannot travel) so our mind has already been made for us.

  178. Don’t do it Lucky. You’ve been doing such a great job of setting a good example for all of your readers why reverse course now? Sure you’ll get a lot of attention/content out of the trip but it isn’t worth potentially your health and the health of others.

    Beyond the PITA factors of lost time and money if you happen to contract it and test positive, I feel like almost none of the commenters above or perhaps you as well fully grasp just how nasty and long-lasting this thing can be if you don’t get lucky enough to have a really mild case. I have multiple friends in their 30s and 40s super healthy marathon runners with no pre-existing conditions that caught this in early March and still haven’t fully recovered with no known end in sight. Just horrible.

    I’ll just drop this here and be on my way (from my bedroom to my kitchen that is).


  179. I’m very surprised most of you respond with political issues. I find this very strange since this is NOT a political item. The question is, if and when can we travel again. Yes, there are a lot of people dying but the numbers cannot be compared between the countries. Better would be to look at a percentage based on the total of people living in the country. And also keep in mind that in a “normal” year also a lot of people die due to sickness and for instance the flu. I’m aware that currently more people die due to Covid-19, but please don’t base your judgement on the thing’s politics tell you. The only thing they do is use “marketing” words so they can stay in office.
    Over here in Europe they mostly use words that don’t tell you anything and consider it more marketing then actively “attack” the virus. In my opinion this creates more fear than necessary.
    On the initial question, should you travel in June. I would say if it’s possible yes. The main issue is can you enter the country you flying into. For me personally. I would really love to go to the US to do the road trip we canceled. I think it will really help the tourist industry over there. The thing is I hesitate to book since I’m nor sure when I can enter the US again.

  180. Perhaps someone will explain how I’m more likely to infect other people by traveling than I am when i go to the grocery, Lowe’s, the hair salon, etc.

    If anything, I’m going to be more diligent in personal hygiene to protect myself.

  181. @Patti
    I love the idea that going to the hair salon is “essential”.

    Let me pass, please, I have an emergency manicure to get to.

  182. @The nice Paul

    Want to show me where I SAID it was essential?

    I’m in a state where many things have been opened, salons among them

    Now, if you have an answer to my ORIGINAL question, please share.

  183. I live in Germany, so a trip around Europe would be more safe for me instead of traveling International atleast until mid September.

    I thought about spending some weeks in Amsterdam during July, which would definetly be possible and is not far from my home by bus or train. I still would not fly by the way.

    June/July/August seems a bit too early for International flights to me. I have a feeling most Airlines will cancel your flight in those months.

    Just to be very safe, i would only travel within the United States until atleast August.

    How about a holiday in Florida? You could rent a car and drive there yourself.

    Have you thought about booking Iceland in September?

    Stay safe xxx

  184. We are maby/Probably going to be living with Covid 19 for some time. There might not be an vaccine at all, there isn’t one for AIDS.
    So when should we start to live with it and not “against it”?
    A lot of us have elderly parents, relatives and friends, so I guess it will be up to us as responsible individuals to take the right decisions to protect them, others and our self.
    I’m not saying that confinement has not been justified, but it can not go on for ever. We can as societys, not keep on confine healthy people in one years time.
    So I guess, it will ultimately be up to the individual to take precautions for the society and not governments?
    Lucky you seem to me to be a very conscious person, so go for it, if it feels right for you, yours and your society.
    No issue from me if you decide to.

  185. @Patti – a couple clear differences come to mind:
    – Much higher density on a plane than in a store
    – Mask wearing is mandatory inside many stores right now, whereas it will be “encouraged” on the plane
    – Airlines are incentivized to turn planes as quickly as possible on the ground (meaning, they are touting their deep cleaning they are doing, but incentives to do so are not aligned with needing to get the plane up in the air again)
    – The “network” of total people interacted with is going to be a lot higher on a plane than your local grocery store

  186. If you feel comfortable with it – absolutely, do it…
    On the subject of testing though – I think the importance of testing is overrated: you can test negative today, but pick the virus tomorrow when you think you are in the clear…unless you test the same person day after day after day…and even then – the test itself is not a 100% accurate…
    if anything, I think the antibody test is more useful in getting you an idea if you are in the clear…

  187. @Mike, the problem is gullible people like you actually believe Trump’s false claim that the US leads the world in testing. If you look at the data, who,Ed the US leads in absolute number of tests at 11.1m, on a per capita basis it is not even 30th. And this excludes China, which has just said it will test all 11m people in Wuhan. If we were testing enough, we should have fewer than 10% positive tests while we are around 20%. There is huge variation by state. NY has the most cases partly because it tests by far the most. Texas is seeing new cases stay high and will likely continue to as it’s testing is poor.

  188. I want to thank Colin for his comment…absolutely and totally agree with him. You were spot on with this comment:

    ““The stock market isn’t more important than peoples’ lives”.
    This is inherently untrue. The stock market is a reflection of people’s livelihood.

  189. Well, I feel him. I need to travel essentially to the US, and I am discovering options to go via Mexico. Go on the trip and enjoy iceland! this madness needs to have a end and we should be starting supporting the tourist industry

  190. @Diane – lol, not at all, it’s a reflection of expected future earnings for a given company, multiplied by whatever collection you are looking at. Only about ~1/2 of Americans actually own stock…and those that don’t are more likely the ones hit hardest right now.

  191. @UA-NYC currently stock market valuations are in direct proportion to the govt stimulus packages. Earnings seem to be an afterthought at least for now.

  192. @Alan – very true at the moment. My broader point is that it is in no way a “reflection of peoples’ livelihoods”, as was the claim. Stocks have already gained back much of the Feb dip (great for those who own stocks), but that doesn’t do anything many/most of the 36MM unemployed in the US.

  193. @UA-NYC

    Mask wearing is indeed required on planes now. It is mentioned in the announcements. I know because I took a domestic flight yesterday.

    Everyone was wearing a mask on the plane, though not as much in SeaTac airport for some reason. The plane was about 40% full in my case, with no aisle seats taken on a E175. Even during the flight they remind people through the PA system to wear a mask when not eating or drinking… I think I heard it multiple times.

    It felt pretty safe, and I say that with full sincerity and honesty. I’m prone to anxiety and worry but it felt like passengers and Alaska Airlines took the virus seriously.

    This is the world we find ourselves in, so at some point I imagine everyone in this thread will eventually need to learn to navigate it. You can put it off but probably won’t be able to avoid it.

  194. Quarantining for a fortnight either end of the trip would be a deal breaker for me. If you can justify the time then happy travels.

  195. I haven’t read all these comments but it’s highly unlikely that Iceland will be welcoming tourists from outside Schengen in June as this would create a potential “loophole” into Europe.

    Suspect something has been “lost in translation” (possibly literally!) here

  196. @UA-NYC I agree completely. It is rather sad the govt focuses on corporations rather than directing help to those who most need it. When I heard Pelosi recommending that the health exchanges be reopened to permit the unemployed to obtain insurance, it just became even more obvious the subsidy package is based on pure greed. Many of those unemployed would qualify for free insurance through the exchanges thus just transferring more public money to the rich corporations.
    I am currently in Mexico and the consulate nearest to me remains open to issue visas for temporary workers. Busloads of Mexicans are now crossing the border daily to mostly do agricultural work while millions of Americans are being paid to remain unemployed. No reason to increase farm worker wages by requiring higher wages for the unemployed to temporarily take some of those jobs.
    I know this is off topic but it’s nice to vent especially since the topic is a mute point for those of us with non Shengen passports who will not be permitted to travel to Iceland on June15th. I posted a link yesterday with the details.

  197. @Daniel D – airlines can deny boarding if you aren’t wearing a mask, but once on board and an flight, it’s been documented that they can’t really “force” you to (would leave to mass diversions). Note I am not advocating this.

    Alaska may have better compliance, but per Reuters: The top three U.S. airlines have told their flight attendants not to force passengers to comply with a new policy requiring face coverings, just encourage them to do so, according to employee policies reviewed by Reuters.

  198. LabCorp will test for antibodies for $10.

    Also, for those who can give blood The Blood Connection will test for free with a donation.

  199. My main concern regarding international travel is when the countries will open the borders. If someone is awaiting the moment when the vaccine is available, just ask Dr. Faucci about HIV vaccine which is still under development since the 1980s. Now medical professionals believe that there is a good chance to have such a vaccine by 2030.
    Even if a vaccine will developed, how effective it would be? Note that Corona virus is not influenza, but according data compiled by CDC (www.cdc.gov/flu/vaccines-work/vaccineeffect.htm):
    ” A study [ref provided] that looked at a number of VE (vaccine effectiveness) estimates from 2004-2015 found average VE of 33% (CI = 26%–39%) against illnesses caused by H3N2 viruses, compared with 61% (CI = 57%–65%) against H1N1 and 54% (CI = 46%–61%) against influenza B virus illnesses.” Even the classical tuberculosis vaccine based on life bacteria is 0%-to 80% effective depending on the batch and the manufacturer.
    Now according to the same CDC the vaccination coverage among adults 18 years or older in USA is fluctuating between 37 and 47% for the last 10 years. Even if I take 50%, then when combined with 33% VE against H3N2, then the overall effectiveness of this (partial) vaccination was 16.5%. I bet you will be getting better results if everyone would wash the hands regularly.
    Of course, washing the hands AND getting the vaccine would be even better.
    You rarely hearing these numbers from out trusted health professionals and media personalities because the broad acknowledgement of these VE numbers by the public would decrease the vaccination rates.

  200. @Ben – I find it interesting that whenever you ask readers their opinion on whether you should do something or not you’ve always made up your mind beforehand.

  201. The announcement from the Icelandic government makes it clear that, “Iceland will continue implementing travel restrictions imposed for the Schengen Area and the European Union..” So assuming the EU/Schengen maintains restrictions on flights from the US, for example (as they have said they will), it wouldn’t allow Americans or others from outside the EU to take advantage of this program.

  202. I was happy to lock down so far, but now I am living my life. I booked a Europe trip for September; I’ll go wherever they’ll take me. I don’t think it’s realistic to wait this out. I think more people are being harmed now than are being helped from the shutdown. And I don’t visit “sites” on vacation anyway, I bike.

  203. The stock market is as important as people lives, simply because you cannot separate the two. Ofcourse multi millionaire investors won’t really be affected either way, but millions of people, living in 3rd world countries, are directly affected by decrease in spent and the risk for their lives is real. Enough with this ridiculousness. A disease hitting 80 something years old men is normal – there are oh so many of these, and they don’t seem to bother us. 9M million people die of hunger every year, still no one seems to be concerned with the fact we are not giving them an old medicine that has very high success rate – FOOD. So please, travel, enjoy and get the economy going. The sooner the better.

  204. After 200+ comments in less than 24 hours, it is suffice to say that no matter what happens we’re f***ed way beyond 2020.

    This is virus is PTSD for everyone. We had hand sanitizer and TP shortage, we will soon have Valium and Xanax shortage. (And insurance companies increase premiums and healthcare gets a lot richer). Sounds like another conspiracy documentary for that nutcase Micheal Moore.

    Good bless America.

  205. @Alan, you said “Travelers without a Shengen country passport are not permitted to enter on June 15th. ” I think what you mean is Travelers without a Shengen country passport are not permitted to enter BEFORE June 15th. According to the link you provided, it says “No one from outside of the Schengen zone will be allowed to enter Iceland until June 15. After that time, tourists who don’t belong to the Schengen countries will be eligible to visit Iceland under the new specific conditions.” So seems like after June 15, anyone outside of Schengen countries CAN visit Iceland.

  206. In Germany a study has now traced down the complete effect of patient 0 who came from China on a business trip and infected several of her colleagues here.
    She and her also affected colleague infected exactly zero people on the Shanghai – Munich – Shanghai roundtrip.
    One of the German guys flew from Munich to Tenerife whilst unknowingly infectious and neither did he infect anybody on the flight.

    Just go ahead.
    Be responsible and start supporting tourism. So many people have already lost their jobs and the whole industry is on the verge of collapsing…

  207. Kevin is correct. A 5 second google search tells you all you need to know about the reopening beyond the EU groups who have been allowed there already.

    From Forbes

    Icelandic prime minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir has announced that international tourists will be welcome into the country, with restrictions, no later than June 15. Previously, Iceland’s border had been closed to tourists from countries outside the EEA/EFTA. This will end no later than June 15.


    Notice the “this will end on June 15.

    You can take a test in the airport. Results within the day. If you are negative, you DO NOT have to quarantine for 14 days. If you are positive, you will have to quarantine.

    I still see no valid argument on how I am going to infect anymore people going on this trip than running around my own town

    I wear mask, gloves and use sanitizer. Unless the plane is slam packed, barely more density than my local WalMart.

    BTW, I’m a senior with risk factors. People are more likely to kill me than me kill them.

  208. @kevin. Thanks for correcting me – i had read the notice incorrectly. Now I’ll have to think about it myself although the border with Mexico is still closed to tourists so I dont risk leaving for now.

  209. I would not go on that trip, but I am over 65. Having said that, you should be able to get a test for Covid-19 before you go. There seem to be a lot more available these days.

  210. I plan to travel domestically in the UK in July. On looking at the schedules for British Airways and easyJet, they will run very little through June, but in July will be putting quite a lot more on, domestically at least.
    We can’t live like we are doing at the moment forever, so I plan to be back in the air come early July.

  211. The only real solution to this crisis is for everyone to wrap themselves in bubble wrap and chain themselves to their beds. Only then can we be truly safe!

  212. @Lina Lane

    Yes, Tiffany is the moderator. Ben writes the blogs, and Tiffany handles the back end stuff.

  213. Traveling to Iceland too early (even if Iceland wants you to visit) could result in a few things:

    1. Your risk of being infected/infecting your family will increase (just don’t know exactly by how much, though).
    2. If this results in a well-traced outbreak, the travel industry (both to Iceland and globally) will definitely suffer.
    3. Iceland might benefit from tourism $$$, at least temporarily (but may lose more $$$, if #2 happens).
    4. Just trips to Iceland is not going normalize the travel economy, even if millions of people (highly unlikely) flies to Iceland.
    5. If millions of people end up going to Iceland, most likely the risk of an outbreak there will greatly increase.

    And most importantly, just willingness of Iceland to welcome visitor$ does not make that travel any more “responsible.”

    I know your mom has received/is receiving chemo, and if I were you, I would do everything within reason to minimize this kind of risk to you and her, especially the risk is potentially avoidable. (I’m a cancer doc.)

  214. The problem with Iceland is not Covid. It’s ravenous, wild polar bears that roam and kill at will. As for me and my family, we will shelter in place and avoid these polar monsters.

  215. Well I for one, am also contemplating a trip to Iceland this summer, hoping to burn some miles and points. So I’d be very interested in learning about the flight and hotel situation if you do make the trip.

  216. @GW

    I already checked on flights. Icelandic Air, I believe, only one flying so far. You can catch it out of Boston.

    Since they have been open to the Schengen tourists, I had little trouble finding a hotel. Tour companies were running.

    I did my searches for both late June and September.

  217. As someone who was away while this all started, and had to come home on an evacuation flight, I would urge you not to travel until things settle down more.

  218. While Iceland seems ideal compared to the US and may make an enjoyable experience for your risk profile, it is a poor justification that livelihoods will suffer without your travel. Many destinations, especially Iceland, have been suffering from OVERtourism. There are many better ways to support people’s livelihoods… supporting sustainable development, supporting education, supporting virtual travel experiences, etc.

    Also many health and travel insurances will not cover you if go abroad while there is a Global Level 4 Do Not Travel Advisory in place.

  219. @Santastico: considering this is a “scamdemic” why the need for “ For the ones that want to get back to life be cautious, wear a mask, wash your hands and don’t be stupid other than that things should work and nobody needs to leave on a cave. I personally would not travel for pleasure just because I am bored at home but I would travel for work if necessary.”. If this is such a scam and only the weak die or suffer, tough guys like you shouldn’t need precautions.

    I wondered how long the troll in you would take to appear. It was especially clever in tossing “ cities like NY where you have almost 40k people per sq mile anything becomes pandemic.” data from your expert analysis. That way the city in BF Idaho you call home looks like the norm. SMH

  220. “Until there’s a vaccine”
    “Until it’s safe”
    “Just a little while longer”

    The vast majority of travel-averse people in these comments have used phrases like these in advising/condemning Lucky, and those of us who plan to travel at our first opportunity. Do you not realize that none of these are concrete, actionable answers?

    There may never be a vaccine. Even when there is, it might not be curative. The WHO (which so many of you still seem to trust, for reasons that are beyond me) has recently conceded that COVID-19 will likely become endemic. It may never go away.

    Which is awful for people who are very vulnerable. But honestly, no big deal for more than 99% of the population. For most people in the world, the risk of death or serious illness from COVID is negligible, approaching zero. Governments should protect at-risk populations; but let the rest of us live our lives. In big picture, for the overwhelming majority of people, it is now as “safe” as it’s ever been.

    Finally, for those of you who encourage all of us to wait “longer,” what is your benchmark for when that would be? I suspect you don’t have one, or if it is—and you’ll never admit it—it’s until you stop being afraid.

    Personally, if a country opens its borders to me, I interpret that is it being OK to travel. If you don’t, Chicken Little, then go and tell the president you think the sky is falling. I’m sure he’s eager to listen.

  221. Ben, long time avid reader. I suggest consideration of the Golden Rule. Is this non essential travel what you’d advocate for everyone? Iceland may be relatively safe, but there’s lots of exposure on the way there. Is this what you’d want everyone to be doing, particularly when you think of the three parents?

  222. @Robert “Which is awful for people who are very vulnerable. But honestly, no big deal for more than 99% of the population.”

    Your made-up numbers are fantasies. Obesity is a severe COVID-19 risk factor. 13% of the world is obese… leaving 87% in a low-risk group… but wait that doesn’t even include the elderly or immuno-compromised.

  223. “Iceland wants visitors under this plan,” – Iceland wants visitors from countries that properly handled the pandemic not places where the case count continues to climb. Its nice they offer tests on arrival but if you get infected by someone on the plane you are not going to show a positive test on arrival. Have fun if you develop symptoms in a foreign country. If people were getting tested before the flight (you know with a test that is reliable not the white house tests that have a 48% false negative) then it may be more reasonable. Just seems selfish to go from a country with the highest case count in the world to a country that has not had a severe problem all for the point of non-essential tourism. They can make money off tourists from responsible countries that did the right thing, not a bunch of Americans who can’t even follow basic guidelines without throwing a fit. Nobody says you need to wait for a vaccine to travel, but at least have the decency to wait until the US has this under control and is in a position itself to accept international travelers.

  224. @Bill: I am a US passport holder with residence in Spain. My WhatsApp group of European friends will see the news on US behavior during this pandemic and tell me “we thought you Americans only acted this way when out of your country. We were wrong. You actually take pride in this pathetic behavior.”

  225. Part of my biggest joy from travel comes from the journey, like most here I think. I’m not interested in flying on airlines with reduced J/F service and masked/gloved flight attendants, nor in staying at hotels that don’t have pre-pandemic service standards. I’ll wait, and if it becomes like 9/11 and everything turns to new normal less-is-more, I think all of our travel budget will go towards new property in places we love, which is where we will travel going forward.

  226. @Ray: I was going to ignore you but thought I would give you a chance. You should respect people’s opinion.

    The reason I say to be cautious and wear a mask is in respect to elderly people and those vulnerable. Also, the fact that this virus won’t likely kill healthy and younger people doesn’t mean I need to go on vacation in the middle of all this. That is what I meant.
    The scam comes from stupid Government hitting the panic mode and brainwashing people. Shopping at Home Depot is considered essencial so having over 300 cars in the parking lot with people loading their trunks with flowers and fertilizer and celebrating Spring is OK but shopping at the small businesses is not allowed. They are all broken. Government broke small businesses while 95% of the deaths comes from nursing homes that have no plan to protect themselves. People are still shopping for flowers while elderly people die by the dozens everyday and the Government focuses on keeping small businesses under lockdown. That is the scam.

    You called me troll but I will respect you because I respect people. You should also respect Idaho and other smaller states that produce the food you eat to survive. Enjoy your time inside waiting for a vaccine to be produced.

  227. Time to cue for @Stuart.
    @Robert Schrader has spoken.
    Both are aggressive and on the opposite tip of opinions.

    Popcorn ready!!!!

    In spite of the personal attacks, Robert can be the bigger person here and just give a disclaimer that his occupation relies entirely on travel that’s all what Stuart feud is about. Just admit you’re rightfully biased.

    Believe me this is stressful for everyone not only people in the travel industry.

    I don’t think waiting for a vaccine is the solution. But making sure everything is 100% safe is impossible.
    Or hopping on the plane the day that travel ban is lifted is part of the problem. But thinking it is no big deal for 99% is pure ignorant.
    I personally believe in the middle ground here. IMHO, I would still avoid travel if possible. But when I do, I’ll do what it takes to make sure I put a huge effort to not be part of the problem. And this is from a person who has 7 international trips coming up and considering cancelling up to half of it. (Damm those tricky airlines’ flexible change policy, now they got my money)

  228. @Eskimo Respectfully, Stuart is the one who resorted to personal attacks—I don’t know anything about him, and I wish him the best. The onus is on him, and him only, to “be the bigger person.” I’m just talking truth, even though some of you don’t want to hear it.

  229. Lucky, why not do a full mileage run syle trip (MIA > JFK > LHR > DOH > HKG > SYD > LAX > MIA), and focus on reporting on what the service was like inflight, the quarantine/immigrations/health procedures were like, etc?

    it would undoubtedly create some of your most compelling content yet.

  230. 1st.. I would want in writing from your medical insurance a statement saying they WILL cover any and all treatment for all medical treatment INCLUDING COVID19 outside the USA. If no…don’t go…
    2nd…I would wear mask and gloves AND Face sheild to protect whole face and eyes
    3rd…make sure you are allowed to leave and reenter the USA if you did get sick..and the time line for that.
    4th…if that all works out go have a blast! But don’t fly through NYC OR ANY HOT SPOTS…Go fly through Canada…
    Now just my opinion…I have cancer and have a bucket list…I think you should help your Mom work on her bucket list…if she says no drag her anyway Moms always say no…but really do have one…I like my RV to travel…no hotels too dirty and too much work…my own bed/pillows my own germs…you could get 2 RVs and follow each other….you could visit HER old friends and families and see the sites on the way…you would have a blast…us old people are a lot of fun!!
    What ever you decide have a great time doing it!!! We may not be here next time you want to go..I plan leaving in July and back in Sept RV to visit family and friends all over the country…God willing I’m still here to do it..be safe!!

  231. A frequent claim by pandemic deniers (scamdemic!) is that safety measures (e.g., social distancing, lockdowns) that medical experts recommended to ‘flatten the curve’ and continue to urge caution in lifting too soon were either useless or their effectiveness hyped. The [bogus] claim could not be effectively challenged because it is usually tough to prove a negative as that would have required having data on the number of people who would have gotten infected or would have died *if the safety measures had not been implemented at all.*

    Well, what do you know? A scientific study to be published in ‘Health Affairs’ by researcher in Kentucky, of all places, is about to prove the negative and debunk the claim about social distancing or lockdowns being useless. Here’s the paper’s Abstract [key points bracketed with __***]:

    “State and local governments imposed social distancing measures in March and April of 2020 to contain the spread of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). These included large event bans, school closures, closures of entertainment venues, gyms, bars, and restaurant dining areas, and shelter-in-place orders (SIPOs). We evaluated the impact of these measures on the growth rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases across US counties between March 1, 2020 and April 27, 2020. An event-study design allowed each policy’s impact on COVID-19 case growth to evolve over time. Adoption of government-imposed social distancing measures reduced the daily growth rate by 5.4 percentage points after 1–5 days, 6.8 after 6–10 days, 8.2 after 11–15 days, and 9.1 after 16–20 days. Holding the amount of voluntary social distancing constant, these results imply __***10 times greater spread by April 27 without SIPOs (10 million cases) and more than 35 times greater spread without any of the four measures (35 million) ***__. __***Our paper illustrates the potential danger of exponential spread in the absence of interventions, providing relevant information to strategies for restarting economic activity. ***__ [Editor’s Note: This Fast Track Ahead Of Print article is the accepted version of the peer-reviewed manuscript. The final edited version will appear in an upcoming issue of Health Affairs.]” — Health Affairs, 24 May 2020, Open Access

  232. It comes down to objective logic for me:

    Step 1: The fact remains that the only true safe time to travel will be when Covid-19 is no longer a viable threat. No longer a viable threat does not mean when infection/morbidity rates are in an “acceptable” range, it means when there is a vaccine.
    Step 2: there may never be a vaccine.
    Step 3: as a result, we have to learn to live with the virus until there is a vaccine.
    Step 4: getting back to our lives and traveling with some objective precautions is learning to live with the virus as societies begin to reopen.

    Let’s not forget millions of people rely on the tourism industry to support themselves. So we can pick our poison, threat of covid-19 with known statistics or slow yet certain economic death. We can’t stay home forever and under the stay home logic the only reasonable time to travel is when there is a vaccine. (see steps 1-4) If any government is welcoming travelers, that decision is partly backed by science and partly backed by economic need, but most countries won’t be playing Russian roulette with their citizens so tourists can enjoy overpriced cocktails. I for one will be helping people to get back on their feet economical while simultaneously enjoying my passion for travel in countries where I feel the variables are acceptable. (such as Iceland)

    Happy travels! – Doug

  233. “We can’t stay home forever and under the stay home logic the only reasonable time to travel is when there is a vaccine.” Its not all or nothing. This is the argument put forward by people who want to justify opening up when the science to not support it. People don’t need to wait for a vaccine in order to travel. What they should wait for is for the situation to be under full control before engaging in non-essential travel and putting others at risk. Iceland next month while the numbers of cases continue to climb in parts of the US? Not reasonable. That doesn’t mean someone needs to wait for a vaccine but they should wait until testing and contact tracing is fully online which in some states is just starting to come online. There are viruses out there that there is no vaccine for albeit in poorer countries and yet people still travel.

  234. I’ll be flying to Turks on 30 June as international flights are starting back up there on 1 June. All of you nervous nancys can kiss my ass 😀

  235. Ben

    I support your comment about Trump. He is not only a clear and present danger to the US, but to the World.


  236. @Alan, regardless of whether Iceland restrict entry to EU passport holders or not, I believe Lucky holds a German passport, which obviously fits that criteria.

  237. @guesswho2000
    I was aware Lucky had an EU passport but I mistakenly read the shengen notice. Intl tourists from non shengen countries will be permitted. It will be interesting to see how this plays out as non US citizens/residents are still not permitted to enter the US on flights originating in shengen countries which includes Iceland.
    What surprises me more though is visitors from countries like Brazil and Russia where the case numbers are exploding are still permitted (I just spoke with CBP last week). What the #$&#.

  238. @Robert Schrader

    First, sorry, tl;dr

    Your data, like any data, can be used to form any argument you want to defend out of bias. Unfortunately, the virus does not care about your data. In the end none of us knows anything about how this will track, grow (or not), potentially be devastating, or perhaps be overblown. Data is only as good as what people put into it. And people right now are nowhere near having the knowledge needed to get a grasp of what the impact will be.

    Today, 15 U.S. Navy sailors became infected a second time after recovering and testing negative for weeks. Children are starting to die from a strange Covid19 induced inflammatory disease. Every day we are learning something new. Little of it is positive and confuses Doctors and Scientists even more.

    Yet here you are, touting your expertise and data. Not as a scientist. Not as a doctor. But, as a self-described, “travel coach.” I don’t even know what a “travel coach” does – but will assume it does not involve being any sort of expert on the potential issues related to leisure travel and a pandemic.

    If you read my original comment here, prior to your calling anyone who argued against your flinging open the doors as being “evil’, “fools”, or now, “chicken little,” I did not support cowering in the corner and waiting it out. I did though argue that steps should be taken that allow us to get a better handle on what this virus holds for our future. My argument was simple, if this is about restarting the economy, allow business travelers who NEED to kick start their businesses, save their livelihoods – and that of their employees (thus truly helping the immediate of the economy) a chance to slowly start moving again in June without travel bloggers and industry people encouraging Bob and Martha and their four kids to head to Iceland for a spa week at Blue Lagoon. It’s going to put strain on mitigation and jeopardize those who can truly get things going again. And potentially put us right back to where we were in March.

    That’s not to say leisure travel can’t happen this summer. Perhaps in August. But June? Pragmatic and thoughtful steps in going forward are practical and right.

    Lately, I use my passion in whitewater kayaking as an analogy to this time we find ourselves in. When running a river, and confronting a 30ft waterfall, or long complex rapid with significant hazards, every kayaker is faced with a decision as to its risk. The first in this “tick box” of assessments is, “If I mess it up, will I be jeopardizing the safety of others around me in a rescue?” Despite it being a sport that is thought of as “individual,” there is still a team. And being erratic and hasty with decisions on a river often results in your friends putting their own lives at risk to save you when things go wrong. If you are pinned in your kayak upside down with head under water your friends have four minutes to get to you. Problems compound.

    Now, if that rapid gets to be known, characteristics better established – experience is gained, we may learn that what appears dangerous is in fact benign. Good. Give it. Huck yourself over and know that while you might screw up you are probably not going to die or put your friends at risk. Gaining that knowledge takes time. However, we can also learn with scouting and experience that, yes, the rapid is, “unrunnable,” and we need to mitigate the risk by always portaging around it.

    This is not an irrational fear of the unknown. This is respect for the power of nature (for which this virus is just as unpredictable) and managing as much risk as possible. Problem solving at its best. What you propose, first by calling anyone who sees a better gradual step by step process this summer (in which spa vacations in June are hardly the first step) an “evil fool” or “chicken little,” is like coming to the top of a rapid you have never run, have only a basic second hand knowledge of, only to say, “You guys are a bunch of posers, I don’t need to scout it or assess the risk…I’m just running it blind.”

    We have a name for kayakers like that, “young, dumb, and full of….” Quite often they also end up dead. Or one of their friends does in the process.

    Seriously, dude. Just stop. If you are “coaching” your clients to get out there and “go wild” with leisure travel right now then you are irresponsible, naive, and potentially a liability to their well-being. You call yourself a professional and use that profile here for some sort of credibility. Fine, start acting like it.

  239. Go and enjoy! You’ve done your homework and you have planned to be responsible. Your livelihood is travel!

    For those complaining about you criticizing or bashing ‘the president’, when did directly quoting what he said become criticizing?? If quoting a ridiculous statement he made is criticizing, please remember who MADE the statement!!

  240. @lucky – I was under the impression the US has a policy that all visitors who have been in Iceland/Europe need to self-quarantine on arrival. Are you betting the policy will be lifted by the time you travel?

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