How to travel without fear
Ignore the headlines. Here's what really matters.
OK, despite everything you've read, you're not getting monkeypox on your next trip.
COVID? Maybe. Stuck at the airport? Possibly.
Happy you finally went somewhere? Almost definitely.
I don't want to call this the Summer of Fear. But when I heard about the monkeypox outbreak and read headlines like, "Monkeypox can be contained if we act now, WHO says," I thought, "Oh, boy, what's next?"
Then I dared to ask readers what they thought of monkeypox. Would it stop them from traveling?
"Negativity, negativity!" exclaimed reader Jerry Shore. "Do not understand why you continue to push this agenda!"
Fair enough, Jerry.
But Jerry's comment, and others like it, made me wonder: What shouldn't you ignore when you travel this summer? I touched on this in last week's story about summer travel advice the experts aren't giving you. But there's more you need to know.
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What not to fear
Monkeypox is definitely not something to worry about, at least for now. As of today, there are only 12 monkeypox cases in the United States, according to the CDC.
Monkeypox is much more difficult to get than COVID. You have to get bitten or scratched, prepare bush meat, come into direct contact with body fluids or lesion material or indirect contact with lesion material, such as through contaminated bedding. Not likely for readers of this newsletter.
Another irrational fear is Russia invading your European vacation. I've interviewed dozens of travel security experts, and they laugh when I tell them about travelers who want to cancel their European vacation because of the Russia situation.
That's such nonsense.
Say you're headed to Paris this summer to enjoy the sights and dine at its famous restaurants. Chances of Russian tanks rolling through the city? Zero. The Ukrainian capital is 1,250 miles away. Putin's army would have to pass through four NATO countries to reach you.
What if the Russians go nuclear? Well, then no one is safe, so it won't really matter where you are.
I've heard from readers who have canceled or postponed their travel because of Russia, and unless they're doing a biking tour of Eastern Ukraine, this makes no sense. Save your fears for something realistic.
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What to fear this summer
Not to stoke controversy, but COVID is still something worth worrying about. In the last two months, cases have more than tripled.
I'm concerned — very concerned — that travelers have dismissed COVID and are taking no precautions. But precautions have to be taken. Don't travel without masks, sanitizer, common sense and travel insurance. If you're in a high-risk category, please think twice before traveling this summer. I know it's tempting. But if you're not careful, this could be your last trip.
And what else is worth worrying about?
Airline cancellations, that's what.
If you're flying this Memorial Day weekend, you probably already know. Pilot shortages, weather, operational challenges — these all added up to make this one one of the most challenging weekends to fly. Earlier this week, Delta Air Lines announced it will cut about 100 flights a day in the U.S. and Latin America this summer. Why? It wants to be more reliable. (Shouldn't it have thought of that before adding those flights to its schedule?) Alaska Airlines has already made similar cancellations ahead of the summer travel season as it faces a possible pilot strike.
Here's how to travel fearlessly
People often ask me how I travel without fear. How do I fly from Portugal to Qatar to South Africa to Turkey during a pandemic without having a panic attack?
Answer: I try to focus on the things that really matter. And that's our health and safety. For example, when we moved from Istanbul to Athens, I prioritized finding the Greek COVID testing and entry requirements and was less concerned about our accommodations. (Maybe I went a little too far on that one.)
But what's the point of arranging an amazing trip when you can't even get into the country? Or of visiting a destination that's unsafe, and from which you might never return?
Oh, OK, no more fearmongering. Sorry, Jerry.
I also play out a worst-case scenario for each visit. Here are two questions I ask:
"What's the worst thing if I go?"
It might be a disaster. But if it is, it’ll also be an adventure. For me, that's irresistible and worth a lot of pain and discomfort.
"What if I don't go?"
That's usually worse because I'll always wonder what it would have been like if I'd gone. And — and I'm sure of this — staying home means I'll be bored.
That puts the journey into perspective. And that's what pushes me to wake up at 3 a.m. to catch a flight to a country I've never visited.
When I think of traveling fearlessly, I'm also reminded of what the Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus once said: "There is only one way to happiness, and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power or our will."
In other words, why worry about something you can't control?
That's great advice. Do what you can to make your next trip as safe as possible and don't worry about the rest.
And I try. But If you know me, you also know that it only looks as if I travel fearlessly. I'm afraid of a lot of things.
I go anyway.
What are you afraid of?
As the summer travel season gets underway, what are you afraid of? What are you not afraid of? How has that shaped your travel plans? The comments are open.
About the art
"For this piece, I was inspired by 50s and 60s pop/shock art posters," says artist Dustin Elliott. "Throw in the latest monkeypox sensation and you have a fun mix of summer travels that meets new pandemic possibilities."
About our underwriters
Fareportal's portfolio of brands, which includes CheapOair and OneTravel, is dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of their travel apps, one thing is clear: Fareportal makes it easy to take it easy.
Flying Angels provide medical transport anywhere in the world on commercial airlines with a Flight Nurse or Doctor. A Flight Coordinator handles the logistics. The client receives care during the entire transport—bedside to bedside. Visit FlyingAngels.com or call 877-265-1085 to speak with a flight coordinator.