I am not an alarmist. I am not a hypochondriac. I am not fearless, but I’m not fearful. I rarely can be swayed off a plan, and I rarely change my mind once I’ve made it up. I sound like a real stick-in-the-mud, but I think it’s important it be said before I say why we postponed our Asian trip amidst the Coronavirus scare.
This week, I asked people on my Instagram stories if they were in our shoes, would they cancel their trip to Taiwan. 55% said they wouldn’t cancel and 45% said they would. To me, that’s almost an even split.
I received lots of messages and comments from people on why they would still go or why they would cancel. We kept up with the news and reviewed the facts we knew to be true. All things considered, the scales were tipping toward postponing our trip to Asia.
I received a comment from a friend that was thoughtful and logical: “You’ll probably be OK, but I think you’d enjoy your trip more at another time.” This is when I realized that a.) this is a vacation and it’s supposed to be enjoyable, and b.) even if I’ll “be OK” doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
Here were the main factors that tipped the scales:
1. Too much uncertainty.
They’ve already canceled a lot of flights to Asian destinations, and that’s only the beginning of what they’re going to cancel. I had someone message me saying they were in Sicily when all the warnings went up about Italy, and they had to reconfigure their whole trip while they were still there. What a pain. If I’m in Taiwan, and everything changes, will I get stuck there? Taiwan literally used to be part of China. (UK still says they are, but you get my point). It’s so close to the main heart of the outbreak, I have no idea what will happen in a few weeks. Everything could change quickly.
2. Everyone is panicked and on edge in Asia.
This doesn’t sound like a fun, welcoming environment to experience their culture: while they’re all wearing masks and staying indoors. It seems like a weird time to visit people who are going through an uncertain and weird time. Again, this is supposed to be an enjoyable vacation. It seems like the wrong time to be visiting.
3. Almost everyone else is canceling their trip.
Normally, I’d say, “Weeeeee, the whole place to myself!” But the problem is, if we’re the only ones there, things will not be open and things will be canceled. They’re most likely going to cancel all the tours we booked, especially since the message we got was “You’re literally the only two people still on the schedule. Are you sure you want to visit us now?” Basically, this told me that if we go, we’re not going to get to do all the things I planned to do. Which means, what will we do? This won’t be the trip I envisioned at all. I’ve also been reading about museums and tour sites closing down. It just doesn’t bode well.
4. My job puts me around all kinds of people.
Even if I have a 99% chance of survival, many of the people I serve in my job as a public historian could be put at risk. If I contract something, and don’t know it for weeks, and go give a presentation to a group of people, they could get sick. Do I really want to be responsible for that? Even if it’s a low risk, it’s still a risk.
5. Airlines are waiving cancellation fees.
Flights are the biggest expense for this trip. With our airline waiving fees, this means we can get a full refund on our flights or vouchers to fly somewhere else. We didn’t pay ahead for almost anything else, so monetarily, we aren’t losing anything to cancel. We can simply just postpone this trip for another time.
There are more factors to consider, but those are the basic factors. I thought it might be helpful to others who might be making these hard decisions now. It wasn’t an easy decision. We have been looking forward to visiting Asia for the first time. The bottom line is that the timing is just bad.
It just doesn’t seem worth the risks aforementioned just to go RIGHT now. We can always go another time. This isn’t our only chance to travel to Asia. Why go now when it could result in disappointment or unforeseen challenges?