When Covid-19 cramps your travel

Alrighty Atlas Obscurites, something I thought I’d raise because I’m curious and I haven’t seen any discussion on these boards so far…

Have anyone’s travel plans been affected by the Coronavirus outbreak? (Past, present or future?)

As I say, as I face an extended stretch of not travelling, I’m wondering if other dedicated culture vultures and globetrotters are having to do likewise or alter arrangements. (Or end up in self-quarantine or international limbo.)

Feel free to share stories - it may, after all, help others! In the meantime, here’s hoping that travel isn’t affected too badly and good health to all! :slightly_smiling_face:


I am due to travel to Japan in 2 weeks, and am wracked by indecision! To go, or not to go? If I go, i’ll be in a place where everyone is in masks, cherry blossom festivals are cancelled, sites are closed. I might get sick (or worse), I might get stuck there, I might run out of meds because I’m stuck there, I might get sick because I’m stuck there. I might get home and be quarantined. I might be compelled to self-quarantine. On the other hand, if I don’t go, I will lose thousands of dollars, I might never get to see the cherry blossoms, I will have wasted months of time and effort putting together my trip, I will miss all those amazing restaurants, ryokans, museums, temples, opportunities to buy pottery and Hello Kitty products… And I might not get sick, or quarantined. What to do?


Yes. We cancelled our trip to Mexico. We were due to fly out March 17th. My husband is a first responder, firefighter/paramedic and he was most worried about us getting stuck in Mexico. He would lose sick time, vacation time etc, plus we have 2 dogs at home and my husband’s elderly parents - in good health but you never know with this virus. My friend was due to go to Ireland around the same time and he has also canceled his trip. We are in Washington state so at the epicenter of the spread. My friend who cancelled Ireland and I have planned an Eastern Oregon road trip instead.

1 Like

I am supposed to fly to Bali from Melbourne in 4 weeks. Supposedly for a 10 day yoga meditation break in Ubud? My husband doesn’t want me to go. I think I might postpone in … but until when ??

1 Like

Just returned from a 4 week trip in SE Asia (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, & Vietnam). Did not wear a mask, but was meticulous about hand hygiene. Tourist areas almost deserted; in Vietnam 40% of their tourists during this high season are usually from China, but all of these countries closed their borders to anyone coming from any place in China in late January. Vendors, hotels, restaurants, etc. were hurting! Nice for us as we got good service, and no waiting in line anywhere, but loss of income and lay offs of unskilled workers is causing many families problems. When we were in Ha Long, we stayed in a 16 story hotel (5 years old), and there were a total of 35 guests there the night we stayed!! Schools have been closed in Vietnam since early Feb., and that has been extended for at least another 2 weeks. All local festivals and concerts are also cancelled.
My only issue was coming home, as my flights were on Korea Air through Seoul. They cancelled my flight home from Ha Noi at the last minute with no remedy, so my travel agent/guide had to scramble to find me an alternative flight through Taipei on EVA. All flights from Vietnam to or from Korea were cancelled starting 2/29.

1 Like

Are you on a package tour? Most American companies are offering a complete refund or credit for the same trip next year.

Go. Hello Kitty awaits.


It hasn’t really affected me personally (other than elevating my anxiety levels) as I made the leap back to living in South America just before the outbreak occured. However, I do feel sad and strongly empathize with all the people whose travel plans and ultimately dreams have been derailed by the spread of the virus and it is heartbreaking to hear about those who have died.

That said I have very nuanced thoughts about the virus. I am an ecologist / conservation biologist and so in a scientific sense I view it as the inevitable and tragic consequence of an ecological blowback that comes from ecosystems being out of whack and our impact on the natural world. At the very least I hope that meaningful real world commitments towards biodiversity conservation might arise out of this tragedy and increased awareness that human health is inextricably linked to the health of our environment (I am way too much of an idealist in that regard though).

I developed quite some time ago what some would call a morbid interest in the ecological drivers and history of pandemics and zoonotic spillover of viruses and read a lot around the subject both popular science books and scientific papers. Ever since that time I have kind of been almost suprised (and deeply grateful to science / medicine) that human civilization is not being more severely impacted and disrupted by these events. In my lifetime I can remember the reaction and media coverage of several of these (some quite viscerally) like AIDS/HIV, “mad cow disease”, “foot and mouth” disease ,SARS, H1NI / birdflu, Swine flu , Ebola and now COVID-19.

I’ve read quite a bit about historic pandemics like the bubonic plague, smallpox and the Spanish flu and I think these offer quite a lot in terms of lessons and parallels to today , both comforting and terrifying. One of the lessons is that amidst mass mortality there are always great acts of heroism (But there are the inevitable evil acts too such as those related to xenophobia , racism , anti-semitism towards minorities who are blamed as being the cause) and many people survive and endure against the odds despite this bleakness.

I actually remember very clearly / viscerally that when I lived in Mexico I once spoke to an old man who told me that during his father’s lifetime the whole city neighbourhood (where we were at the time of conversation) was wiped out by the spread of the Spanish flu. I suppose even at that time without any backdrop of an ongoing pandemic it was quite a shocking thing to contemplate because I have remembered that conversation ever since. I sincerely hope that COVID-19 burns itself out before reaching that kind of lethal virulence and impact on society.


I was hoping to make another trip back to Japan in April to see the cherry blossoms in Kyoto, a city we didn’t see enough of during our first trip in October. I found not-horribly-expensive-for-Japan round trip tickets through TripAdvisor and was set to leave April 2: but then NHK and other Japanese news sites began broadcasting stories of COVID-19 cases in Kyoto, which apparently has become a focal point for infection:


I’m not in the most endangered age group, 60+, which the CDC has recommended to suspend travel plans until further notice, but I do have an underlying health condition that could complicate recovery if I ever catch the virus. Also, my adult kids freaked out and insisted I change my plans (I was going alone this time, probably not a good thing to do during an international health crisis). Luckily, United refunded my payment when I canceled: the customer rep told me they were canceling most overseas flights to Japan and other Pacific Rim cities anyway.

I should add, I had travelers’ insurance: but to my surprise, they didn’t cover a personal cancellation of a flight due to an outbreak of a virus. (If you’ve bought insurance, check your coverage!) So again, I was lucky that my airline was unexpectedly understanding under the circumstances.

I haven’t given up on my quest to see the cherry blossoms in Kyoto, or for that matter, to visit Japan a second time. But it wouldn’t be fair to cause my loved ones anxiety over something that can be rescheduled to another year.

1 Like

There was an article released by AO, just earlier today…

1 Like

I’m so sorry for all of you who now have to forego the trips of a lifetime and miss out on what would have been incredible experience. Same for all of you and everyone else around the world who’s currently having to try and deal with the financial, practical and emotional wrangles that this pandemic has entailed.

I’m trying to draw comfort from the idea that eventually, when things are stable and safe, travel will open up again and the industry will be all amped up for a resurgence. I intend to travel with a vengeance and do my best to help in any little way I can. (The damage done to travel-dependent businesses and regions is heart-breaking.) Personally, I feel strongly about Italy because I have ties there and I can’t wait to reconnect with them for real again. I don’t know if this kind of looking forward is effective, but it’s a bit more of a warm, human light at the end of what appears to be a long, dark, distressing tunnel…


I think that dealing with the present with equanimity and empathy and looking forward to the future is the only effective way of thinking at this moment in time.

I can definitely understand your concern Clayton. I hope your folks in Italy are safe and well and that once things calm down you spend as much time with them as possible to make up for lost time.

Totally agree. Carpe diem. Once travel becomes easier / safer I would just seize the opportunity , go for it, savour all that freedom of movement that has been on the shelf.


Very timely discussion. I was supposed to travel with my husband for his week-long business trip to Mississippi this April but they’ve cancelled their conference so we’re not going anymore. Along the way we were going to stay at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and provides travelers with “beautiful and comfortable accommodations in unique Pullman Train Cars and traditional hotel rooms.” We were so looking forward to it since my husband is a big train fan. :cry: :disappointed:

Our trip to British Columbia in June and July might also not be happening either. We’re hoping we won’t have to forgo it since we’re visiting my sister and taking a road trip with her and our brother-in-law across Canada but the way things are going… :confused:


I just returned from a trip to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam on 2/29/20. I actually felt safer there than I do now, as they closed their borders to China back in January, and there are signs everywhere to report S/S of COVID-19, & hand sanitizer everywhere you looked. They also closed schools and banned events that had a large gathering of people way before this occurred in the USA. My only problem was coming home. I was on Korea Air, and they cancelled my Hanoi to Seoul flight 10 hours before I was supposed to leave, with no remedy offered. Fortunately my tour guide was very helpful in getting me a flight through Taipei on EVA to LAX. What really distressed me though was upon arrival in LAX there was no signage about reporting S/S, and not one person in immigration or customs asked me about S/S or having any contact with anyone with S/S. A friend of mine who returned through LAX from a South American cruise on 3/11 had the same experience!!
I have sadly had to cancel my trip to Paris which was scheduled for 4/28. I hope I can still go on a planned Alaska cruise in early August…

We have tickets for the end of May to move halfway across the world … it is very unlikely we will be using those on the date they were purchased for, but it is unclear what the new date will be.

Hey all,

Fell free to share any other thoughts, travel tips, or any resources you can share regarding the pandemic and travel, or wonderful things we can explore digitally or in our own backyards.

1 Like

I was recently personally affected by the Coronavirus. A couple of weeks ago my significant other who is a doctor on the frontline here in Brazil went down with classic symptoms of what was almost without a doubt coronavirus. She self isolated and was badly ill for a week before recovering , very disturbing thing to go through.

There is almost mathematical certainty that I got the virus too , but apart from a few very mild and barely noticeble symptoms luckily I did not suffer badly with it and just self isolated for 14 days. I was almost without a doubt asymptomatic. I feel very lucky indeed.

1 Like

That is so scary. I’m so glad to hear that both you and your partner are okay!

1 Like

Hello, all. I’m so sorry to hear about all of your travel plans that have been cancelled or are now in jeopardy, you have my utmost sympathy!

My brother and I were supposed to take a trip to Berlin this week, but we cancelled our plans back in early March. This was going to be his first-ever international trip, and he had just received his passport.

I’m a thorough planner when it comes to travel, so I had our whole trip planned out, including to some Atlas-worthy sites that I had planned on writing entries for once we returned. What are your opinions about writing place entries for places you haven’t personally been? It’s been my own personal policy to only write about places I’ve been before, but if there’s interest, maybe my research and planning can be useful to someone else? Maybe I can even post our itinerary here on the forum for future travelers. Thoughts?

1 Like

I’ve posted quite a few places I haven’t visited. Many have been cases of me looking at the map, noticing a bare area and remembering there’s something really cool there that I’ve always wanted to visit.

If the Creative Commons pictures and story fall into place, I don’t see why not. While many entries go in depth not only about the places but also how to get there, etc., I’d still say AO’s focus is on storytelling over “visitability”. Case in point, all the published entries on legally/practically inaccessible places, little-known stories of popular sites and even non-existent locations.

1 Like