After writing about Ben Schlappig’s reasonable plan to travel to Iceland next month I was asked on Facebook what happens if someone picks up COVID-19 during their travels? They get tested and need to quarantine?
I think it is reasonable for people who aren’t at the greatest risk, and aren’t in coronavirus hot spots, to consider planning travel to places that aren’t coronavirus hot spots. However there are several things to watch out for. If you make travel plans far ahead, circumstances on the ground (where you are, or where you want to go) may change and that’ll mean your plans need to change. Countries may not open up. Airlines may change their schedules. With so many hotels still closed, the one you book may not re-open in time for your trip.
There’s one new expense that you might incur on your travels that you probably wouldn’t have thought of in the pre-coronavirus era and that you should plan for if you’re going to travel now: the extra expense if you need to quarantine at your destination, or if you get stuck there.
If you catch coronavirus you cannot travel (or even leave your hotel room). Some countries may have quarantine facilities for people who test positive. If you’re somewhere that you have a choice you’re not going to want to quarantine in a government facility.
You could find yourself having to extend your trip until you test negative for the virus. That may be a couple of weeks. It could be six weeks. And during that time you’re likely to find yourself on the hook for extra lodging and meal expenses.
Indeed, even if you’re merely traveling domestically you could find yourself having to shelter in place if you get sick. Or perhaps you’re just exposed to someone who is positive, and don’t have any symptoms, you might be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days. Either way this is a new potential expense you could face and should be prepared for. Unless you’re expressly assured otherwise assume that your travel insurance if any will not cover it.
In addition, there’s government policy risk – travel restrictions in many places came quickly and that creates ongoing uncertainty. Travel may open up, but restrictions could come back and come back quickly. As a result you may find yourself needing to make plans on the fly to get back home. This strikes me as a low likelihood risk, but it isn’t zero.