Getting stuck in Belize might not seem like too much of a big deal, especially if you live in a cold climate.
But in the midst of the Covid-19 outbreak due to omicron variant, Steve Morrow, a kayak blogger, does not want to take risks. He and his wife have decided to cancel their travel plans to Central America.
If either of them tested positive for Covid-19 while on vacation, Morrow believes he should spend at least seven days in quarantine and pay for food and hotel nights on top of what he already has paid for the trip.
“Who knows if this is the way the world is going, but we figured we can always go later when the going gets tough,” Morrow said. “I hope things calm down.”
According to Hootsuite, a social media management platform with millions of users, nearly 2,500 mentions (not counting retweets) since Dec. 8 have addressed omicron’s impact on vacation travel plans.
Paul Marlow canceled his plans because of omicron. A mental health advocate from Vancouver, Canada, Marlow planned to spend a month away from Vancouver’s rainy climate and the stress of moving to start his mental health business, Never Alone.
Canceling his plans may be prudent, but for Marlow it comes at a different cost.
“The choice to cancel my plans added additional hardships to my own sanity, which I hoped to alleviate on my travels to Mexico,” he said.
UK-based life coach Chantal Dempsey has canceled her Christmas travel plans for the second year in a row. Travel restrictions last year forced Dempsey and his family to skip a trip to France to see his parents and sister. This year, she blames omicron for her decision to stay home and have a Zoom party instead to protect her parents, who are 80 years old.
Dempsey says she changed her approach to vacation planning. She no longer plans ahead, but the books travel when she can.
“We have to live with the uncertainty of what might happen next,” she said. “You never know when you might be locked in or restricted next time around, so we have to seize opportunities when they arise. “
Some people have no choice but to cancel their plans.
Marcos Martinez, New York owner of the Black gay lifestyle blog Men Who Brunch, was planning to visit his cousin in North Carolina, but too many people around him fell ill. Then he started to feel sick. He plans to get tested for Covid-19 and to keep a low profile to make sure he is doing better.
Not everyone is canceling their travel plans this year. But experts say those who travel should take extra precautions.
Dr Megan Ranney, a practicing emergency physician and academic dean of public health at Brown University, is weighing her own travel plans this holiday season.
“If I’m not staying home, it’ll be because I’m incredibly careful on the trip and at my destination,” Ranney said.
Even vaccinated and stimulated people need to be extra vigilant in public places right now, she explained, although she says she wishes that level of vigilance was not needed this far into the pandemic.
To reduce the risk, Ranney advises masks with high-quality masks, avoiding poorly ventilated areas, doing quick tests before traveling or congregating, and eating only outside.
“These actions need to be taken with the knowledge that there is a risk, so it depends on how much risk you are willing to take,” Ranney said.
Dr Shami Feinglass, chief medical officer of diagnostics and life sciences at Danaher, said that to maximize safety during travel, it is best to be vaccinated and boosted if you are eligible, to wear face masks. N95 and test 24 hours before your trip. If your trip is seven days or more, Feinglass suggests testing halfway and again when you get home.
“The key with Omicron is that it spreads easily,” Feinglass said. “Prevent this by masking yourself, getting vaccinated, having smaller gatherings, testing more frequently, and being alert to symptoms. If you have them, don’t attend the rally, travel by plane or train, or see your friends and family.
Ranney points out that omicron creates new conditions and considerations.
“Each stage of the pandemic presents us with a slightly different risk-benefit calculation,” Ranney said. “The question is whether this trip is beneficial enough and can you put in place other measures to reduce the risk for you and for those with whom you are in contact so that this risk-benefit calculation is worth it. “
In assessing whether your trips are worth it, Ranney includes the emotional toll of missing time with loved ones.
“Mental health is a very important part of calculating risks and benefits,” she said.
Jennifer Paster Detmer, a leadership coach living in London, grapples with the emotional impact of having to change her plans to visit family in the United States
Detmer and her husband and then their young children were diagnosed with Covid-19 before the trip, although they hope to be out on Christmas Eve. Still, Detmer is disappointed that they have already run out of time.
“Sometimes sadness can seem stronger than happiness,” she said. “It’s such a lonely time for a lot of people.”
As a trainer, Detmer suggests letting go of old plans and trying to find new ways to celebrate the holidays, even if you have to do it in isolation.
For Friska Wirya, a Melbourne, Australia-based change management consultant and lifelong self-proclaimed traveler, not being able to travel during much of the pandemic has been difficult.
Wirya traveled to Sydney last July for a vacation. On the sixth day of her trip, the borders were closed and she has been in Sydney since. Wirya had to cancel two trips to Perth, Western Australia and one trip to Northern Australia.
“We have been locked up here,” she said. “It’s like living in North Korea.
Wirya says she’s dying to explore the world. She has pivoted her vacation travel plans, canceling a trip to New York City due to the omicron push, and is hoping the borders remain open so she can travel to Western Europe for the vacation. She is fully vaccinated and boosted, plans to get tested every step of the way and travels with a medical grade N95 mask.
Still, Wirya is hedging his bets against further disruption. She’s canceled expensive tickets to New Year’s events and hopes she doesn’t encounter any last-minute hiccups before boarding a plane.