Update: This article was updated on April 10 to reflect the latest travel advisories.
With the coronavirus present around the world, many are left wondering whether they should change their travel plans, especially their honeymoon, to avoid contracting the potentially deadly respiratory disease. Considering the potential disasters we’ve seen happen when travelers DO decide to go on their vacations (this cruise ship debacle is reason enough to make you want to stay home), or the number of countries with regional lockdowns, you might be ready to hit ‘cancel’ on your honeymoon tickets and road-trip across the U.S. instead. Or better yet, take a few days off and stay at a local hotel. But should you?
Travel and health experts recommend staying informed and being smart about your travel plans. By following the steps below, you can be sure that you’re ready to make a decision about whether or not to go on your honeymoon. Read on for their advice on what everybody wishing to travel should do:
Monitor Current Travel Bans:
On March 31, the State Department issued a “Global Level 4: Do Not Travel Health Advisory” for all international travel. According to the advisory:
The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.
For domestic travel, most states now have stay-at-home orders, advising against any non-essential activities such as those needed for medial and food supplies. Be sure to check the CDC website for the most up-to-date travel and other advisories.
Know the symptoms (and how to prevent them)
- There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
- The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
- The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
- These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
- Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.
To prevent the spread and avoid getting sick you should:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick and put distance between yourself and others.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask. (The updates guidelines say you should cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others_
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
Talk to your airline and hotel
Many airlines are waiving change fees for a limited period of time, so talk to your airline about your plans (currently booked or otherwise). However, be sure to find out what your airline’s cancellation and rebooking policies are before you make any changes to your trip, as you could be forced to pay additional fees depending on their coronavirus-related travel policies.
Many hotels are also offering refunds if you need to cancel your trip, so be sure to reach out to them to see what their policies are before you cancel. Same goes with any lodging option, such as AirBnb, which is currently offering their “extenuating circumstances” cancellation policy without charge to hosts and guests in impacted areas.
…Same goes for your cruise line
Many cruise lines are changing their cancellation policies in response to the coronavirus, including Viking, Seabourn, and Silversea Cruises, allowing you to delay your trip or cancel a few days before your trip if you’re taking a wait-and-see approach. Travel agents say they have been surprised by the new cancellation policies on cruise ships, so take advantage of them if you’re worried at all about your plans.
Check your insurance policy (or consider one before booking)
Just because you buy travel insurance does not mean your trip is covered for cancellations due to the coronavirus. For instance, “fear of travel” is not covered by most of Generali Global Assistance’s plans, and the company said the coronavirus outbreak “is considered a foreseeable event” for any plans bought on or after January 29. However, if you’re diagnosed or quarantined because of the coronavirus you will be covered.
While it’s too late to buy a standard insurance policy to protect your honeymoon from the coronavirus, you can buy a “cancel for any reason” policy. Even though the cost of these travel insurance policies is more, you will be covered for virtually any reason. But how much more is it? This breakdown shows that for a $8,000 trip for two travelers, a policy with standard trip cancellation would cost $472, while the “cancel for any reason” upgrade would increase to about $660.
Discuss your options
Before booking or cancelling your honeymoon, sit down with your partner and go over all your options for your trip. If your honeymoon is scheduled in the next few weeks or months, come up with a plan after you’ve reviewed the CDC recommendations and travel bans to see if you are able to travel. Also keep in mind that even if you are, museums, restaurants, and other sightseeing spots could very well be closed.
If you can cancel your trip virtually risk free, discuss whether will feel better delaying your honeymoon until everybody has a better idea of what’s happening with the coronavirus. Or, if you would rather go ahead with your honeymoon and take common-sense precautions (like washing your hands, not touching your face, and taking care of your overall health by getting enough sleep and eating well so your immune system stays healthy), you can forge ahead knowing you’re making the best decision for the both of you.
Sadly, I would avoid planning any European trips for the rest of 2020. Many destination wedding planners and travel agents are suggesting European weddings and honeymoons be pushed to 2021, just because it’s unclear at this point when things will open up again, especially in hard-hit areas like Italy. However, make sure you check with your airline, hotel, etc. for any travel restrictions or change feesl. For instance, American Airlines is offering the following travel flexibility for all upcoming trips if you:
- Bought your ticket before April 7, 2020, for travel through September 30, 2020, you can rebook without change fees. Includes all AAdvantage® award tickets.
- Buy a new trip March 1 – May 31, 2020, for all future travel, you can also change it a later date without change fees.
Plus, if you have a ticket that is expiring between March 1 and September 30, 2020, the value of your unused ticket can be used for travel through December 31, 2021. You may owe any difference in ticket price.
For domestic travel this summer and fall, I would take a “wait and see” approach. And again, be sure to talk to your airline, hotel, and any other ticket issuers to make sure you’re covered no matter what you decide.
Just remember that no matter what you choose, your dream honeymoon will happen now OR later, so don’t let it ruin your excitement. 🙂