No, it's not safe to travel this summer
But the danger isn't where you think it is. Here's why you should go anyway
When the government dropped its testing requirements for air travelers coming to the United States, it sent a clear message: COVID is over and it's safe to travel this summer.
Wrong. And wrong.
COVID is still here. And it's definitely not safe to travel.
We're running at over 140,000 new infections every day, according to the CDC.
And what about the government's move to rescind its testing requirements? Well, all it said was that passengers no longer had to show a negative viral COVID-19 test result, or documentation of recovery from COVID-19, before boarding a flight to the United States.
It did not say COVID is over.
But that isn't why it's not safe travel this summer. There are other reasons why you might want to wait to take a trip. And I'm not just worried about your physical health. I'm concerned about your mental health, too.
Did you miss our discussion on travel safety?
Our members had an interesting discussion about travel safety on Friday. If you want to get in on the next one — and have a chance to win a carry-on bag that is practically unlosable — please become a member of Elliott Confidential now.
You'll also get EXCLUSIVE access to draft chapters of the sequel to How To Be The World’s Smartest Traveler. It’s just $5 a month based on an annual subscription, a 40 percent discount!
These cancellations are driving us crazy!
Airlines cancellations are hitting us with a one-two punch this summer. First Memorial Day, then this week. We had another 3,734 cancellations in the U.S. on Thursday and 3,317 on Friday. It looks like more are in store for the weekend.
Consult FlightAware's Misery Map if you want to get a full picture of the horror.
I can't look at it, and I can't look away. It's like watching a disaster movie in slow motion.
I know we've discussed the reasons for the cancellations. But you'd think the airlines would have done something about it by now. They haven't.
What are your chances of getting stuck at the airport this summer? They're getting better by the day. The only surefire way of avoiding a delay is to not fly. I know, I know, that's a little simplistic, but can you think of a better way?
But I don't want to rehash what we already know. I only mention the summer airline delays because I think they're dangerous.
And I'm not just referring to loose cannons like Jozsef Varadi, the CEO of Wizz Air. He told staffers this week that they should go "the extra mile" when they're tired so that the airline could avoid canceling flights.
Oh, just what we need — fatigued pilots.
I'm also talking about the effects of seemingly endless delays on your mental well-being. Many of you haven't taken a vacation in years. And now you're going to spend your downtime waiting in an airport terminal.
That's gonna drive you nuts.
This week’s issue of Elliott Confidential is brought to you by iCarhireinsurance.com and internationalinsurance.com — and readers like you. Thank you for your subscription renewals. Please scroll down for more information about our underwriters.
The stress of higher prices and inflation
What about inflation? That's screwing everything up, too.
Prices for domestic flights in May skyrocketed to 30 percent over 2019 levels, according to the latest report from Adobe Insights. It's the fourth consecutive month where prices have risen over pre-pandemic levels. Airfares have also increased significantly this year, rising 47 percent since January 2022.
And gas prices are in the stratosphere, too.
Yeah, we're over $5 a gallon.
Of course, high fares and gas prices won't make the travel experience more hazardous.
But the stress of paying more can make the journey more challenging. You've probably seen the images of $500 gas bills shared on Facebook. (What are they driving, a Hummer?) I'd hate to be one of the kids in the back seat of the car on that family vacation.
Inflation is turning a relaxing experience into an ordeal this summer. That's problematic.
It's an unpredictable summer
But what worries me most is the unpredictability of this summer travel season. The cancellations and COVID, we could see that coming. But if you had told me a year ago that Russia would invade Ukraine or that inflation would be running at 8 percent, I would have laughed out loud.
It's almost impossible to escape the clutches of inflation.
My point is, it's a crazy, crazy, world we're traveling in. Anything can happen. And given our track record, that "anything" is likely to make the experience more problematic and possibly even dangerous.
I mean, what if Russia invades another country? Or even goes nuclear? Somehow, I don't think we'll be having a conversation in this newsletter about it.
We'll be a radioactive memory.
So I'm worried about safety, but maybe not in the same way everyone else is. Stress and anxiety will affect our mental health and how we travel in ways we don't expect. The unpredictability will take care of the rest.
It's not safe to travel this summer, but go anyway
The futurist Alvin Toffler once wrote that it is better to err on the side of daring than the side of caution. Spoken like a true futurist.
But in this instance, maybe he's right. Should we stay home and cower in fear in the coming weeks?
OK, so maybe this isn't the summer for a bucket list trip abroad. But you can still get out there if you're careful.
If I were back home in Sedona, I'd be out there hiking every day (cough, cough). I might make a quick trip up to one of the national parks in Utah, but I'd avoid the Fourth of July weekend, of course.
Instead, I am in crowded Paris, where we're expecting triple-digit temperatures this weekend. I'm not complaining.
But you know, it's always something.
It isn't safe to travel this summer. It's never completely safe. Take a summer trip with your eyes open. Prepare for the worst but hope for the best.
Don't worry, you'll be fine.
What's on your worry list?
Are you worried about flight delays? Another COVID outbreak? Inflation? Russia's unpredictability? The comments are open. I'd love to know how all of this craziness will affect your next trip. And, most important, are you still planning to travel?
About the art
Aren Elliott imagined a real green light from the CDC and airlines heeding its advice. "What would that look like?" he wondered.
About our underwriters
iCarhireinsurance.com helps you save money on your car hire insurance when traveling abroad. Whether you are going on holiday or on a business trip, car hire insurance from iCarhireinsurance.com gives you the coverage you need. Our car hire excess and CDW/LDW policies offer comprehensive coverage at a competitive price compared to what you pay at the rental car desk! Buy before you fly!
International Citizens Insurance helps expats, travelers and anyone far from home find the right insurance plan. Our knowledgeable agents will help you find the best plan at the right price and be your advocate for the life of your policy. Learn more at internationalinsurance.com.