Coronavirus: The (Travel) Questions You Asked Us Answered

Coronavirus: The (Travel) Questions You Asked Us Answered

week we posted an Instagram story asking you to send in your
coronavirus-related travel questions. Safe to say, you delivered.
We’ve whittled your responses down to 10, conflating any overlaps
and prioritising the most commonly posed moral quandaries. Not that
you need reminding (eye roll), but the situation is constantly in
flux so please be patient with us if any of the information seems a
little out of date. It was all good at the time of writing, we
promise. Hang on in there, fellow homebound travellers.

Your Instagram questions, answered.

My holiday has been cancelled. Help me from going totally stir

We suspected you might be. We’d be twiddling our thumbs too if
it weren’t for all the armchair-travel content we’ve been
thoughtfully putting together. Scroll through our list of
SUITCASE-approved podcasts,

the films
to inspire your future travels (whenever that might
be) and our completely swoon-worthy

Oh, and become one of our newsletter subscribers. This
week, we’re launching a new weekly email in which we share one
equally epic and uplifting travel story pulled from our archives –
keep your eyes peeled for that.

Is it ok to stay in a hostel mixing with people from all over
the world?

It’s a tricky one, and government authorities (especially in the
UK) have really placed emphasis on the consumer rather than

themselves – a controversial move which risks leaving
small businesses in the lurch. There are three steps you should
take before heading for a hostel. Firstly, call ahead and enquire
about their private dorm availability – nab a private room if you
can. Secondly, ask about their refund policy. Thirdly, ask about
their social-distancing measures. Some hostels and hotels are
ditching bunk beds and reducing their capacity. We’re all for it.
As countries increasingly sink into lockdown, we’ll only be able to
pick from a handful of hostels on home turf anyway – and it’s
unlikely that they’ll draw an international crowd.

I’m looking at destinations for September
or October;
where would you suggest?

Our first ports of call will be the countries currently in
Forte dei Marmi
on Italy’s Versilia coast will still be balmy
come September, as will the
region in Japan. If you’re anything like us, you’ll be
looking for somewhere that will deliver six month’s worth of
vitamin D in the space of a week. Try
Tel Aviv
for starters.

This page
should help you out, too.

What measures are airports taking to prevent the spread?

It depends. Some major international airports, like Heathrow and
Gatwick, have introduced “enhanced cleaning measures” and made sure
that employees and travellers have constant access to hand
sanitiser. There are hundreds of pumps currently accessible to
travellers across Heathrow airport. While Public Health England has
ruled out temperature checks for departees (not effective at
detecting infection, apparently), those heading to Asia are likely
to be tested upon arrival and again when flying back home/

What to do if I choose not to fly, but my flight isn’t
officially cancelled?

The onus is on you here. We’re not in a position to advise on
whether you should or shouldn’t catch that flight – every journey
bears its own troubles – but it’s unlikely you’ll receive
compensation unless the destination country is high-risk, isolating
arrivals or in lockdown. Now is probably not the best time to
appeal, but if you think it’s necessary, reach out to the Civil
Aviation Authority (UK residents) or the Federal Aviation
Administration (US residents). As it stands, most airlines are
cancelling flights and offering refunds – a move that’s likely to
lead a few into a financial quagmire and ultimately,

How likely is it for smaller airlines to go out of business
because of this?

We might have pre-empted that one. Historically, pandemics have
caused what economists call “V-shaped recessions” – that’s a sharp
decline, then a spike, followed by a plateau – as consumers
temporarily squirrel away their financial reserves and then blow it
all in the months following.

The post-coronavirus economic landscape is expected to be
similarly craggy. It’s not only the small airlines that are at risk
of going under, however. Norwegian Air has temporarily laid off
7,500 of its staff, Virgin Atlantic has asked theirs to take eight
weeks of unpaid leave and stocks in Boeing continue to tumble
dramatically. Forecasts by the Centre for Aviation suggest most
airlines will be bankrupt by the end of May
if they don’t receive financial support. So in short: it’s highly

What is Airbnb’s cancellation policy?

Good news. It’s refunding all reservations made before or on 14
March. Check out our coronavirus crib
for more info, and let us know if you think we should add
anything else.

How does this compare to the last pandemic (H1N1/ swine

Perhaps it’s more interesting to look back at the SARS outbreak
in 2003. This was a turning point in Asia’s approach to stifling
viral contagions. It’s partly the reason that
and South
have been so ahead of the curve in quashing coronavirus.
In Seoul
, there are apps which alert you to an infectant’s whereabouts,
drive-through health checks and a smattering of finely tuned
thermal imaging cameras in public spaces to spot those with raised
temperatures. Comparing statistics from previous health scares does
help to put the pandemic into perspective and can quell panic. The
fatality rate for coronavirus sits between three and four per cent
– small in comparison to SARS (9.6 per cent) and tiny beside
Ebola’s which varied between 25 and 90 per cent. Of course, the
issue is sheer pervasiveness: hundreds of thousands of people have
contracted coronavirus, while there have only ever been 33,500
cases of Ebola.

Should I book a holiday or wait?

Self-isolation is necessary, but you can read your symptoms and
act sensibly. The merest drip of a runny nose (not an indicator of
coronavirus, by the way) is not reason enough to burrow under your
duvet with a fortnight’s supply of bone broth and a reusable straw.
Then again, travelling as an asymptomatic carrier will put others’
lives at risk. While it pains us to say it, a bit of humble
couch-surfing might be the best option. Load up on inspiration by
leafing through our back catalogue of (in our humble opinion)
exquisite travel stories.

What can I read?

We’re offended you’d even ask. A bundle of our past print
issues should keep you busy.