SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — Coronavirus fears shouldn’t put a damper on your travel plans.
In fact, CBS News Travel Editor Peter Greenberg says this coronavirus panic makes it the perfect time for you to travel.
“Should you be concerned? Yes. Now, how do you adjust to it?” Greenberg told KTSA News Monday. “Right now, you are seeing airlines reducing capacity, you’re seeing airlines cutting flights. They’re not cutting flights because they are concerned about the disease. They are cutting flights because you are concerned about the disease and no one is booking.”
This means you can get yourself an excellent deal on a flight, cruise or hotel stay.
“What’s developing here — if you are a smart traveler — is a great silver lining, a buyer’s market, an opportunity for you to take advantage of the world when there are no crowds,” said Greenberg.
Best of both worlds.
Greenberg said the risk traveling now is minimal, even despite all of the scare around the latest form of the virus.
If you have concerns, but want to travel, the best advice is to just follow common sense hygiene tips.
“Wipe down the surface of that tray table. Any surface that your skin is going to touch on that plane with some antiseptic wipes. It’ll take you all of 15 seconds. It’s the tray table, the seat back cushions, the armrests and the air nozzles above your head,” Greenberg detailed. “I live on airplanes… I’m not frothing or glowing in the dark right now, so I think I’m okay.”
The travel industry is reacting to a panic that the travel expert said is real with many people he has interacted with as be bounces around the country and overseas.
“I’m interacting with people panicking every minute now, wanting to cancel their cruise, wanting to cancel their flight, wanting to cancel everything,” he shared. “People need to take a slow down approach. Take a deep breath, consult with your own personal physician. I’m not a doctor, I don’t play one on TV. But then exercise some basic common sense and with the exception of about three or four generally affected areas, you are going to be okay.”
Greenberg stated that one of the cruise lines told him over the weekend that for the first time in their history, they had more cancellations than reservations. He would still book a cruise.
“As we are talking right now, there are 365 cruise ships sailing around the world. How many cruise ships were affected by this? One. I like those odds.”
The time to book your travel plans is now
The time to travel is now.
If you are thinking about spring break plans, Greenberg suggested you think big.
“Go to spring break overseas,” he said. “This is the time to do it in Portugal, in Spain, in London, in Paris. Unless you really want to just be on the beach with the other crazy people, this is the time because for the first time in a long time, you have the power of the U.S. dollar, you have excess capacity, and you have a hotel situation where the occupancy rates are dropping dramatically — you win.”
And the cost to travel overseas is very good.
“The airfare right this minute between Boston and London is $250 round trip. You can’t fly from San Antonio to Laredo for $250.”
As for cool destinations, Greenberg’s recommendation are similar to last year — though slightly more exotic.
“Last year, the hot spot was Iceland. Everybody wanted to go to Iceland,” the CBS travel editor explained. “This year, the hot spot, believe it or not, is Greenland or the Faroe Islands. Or, instead of Portugal, which was a hot spot last year, think of the Azores. The nine westernmost islands in Europe, part of Portugal, but such a cool place and totally affordable. They actually have nonstop flights out of Boston and New York to the Azores.”
When you should go will depend on your personal situation, like whether you have a family or not.
If you have kids in school, Greenberg said don’t let school dictate your schedule.
“The advice that I’m going to give is going to make a lot of educators and teachers mad at me is to do what my parents with me: whether it is Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s or summer, don’t go by the school’s schedule, go by your schedule,” explained Greenberg. “Get your teachers to give your kids extra credit assignments and take them out of school a week before the vacation or a week after the vacation so that you can afford it. And guess what? Everybody’s happy.”
At the end of the day, if you know you need to travel somewhere or want to get away, don’t let coronavirus stop you.
“You’re going to see airfare, cruise fare and hotel room sales throughout the rest of this year, so if you want to be a good common sensible person and practice basic personal hygiene, you win,” said Greenberg. “As long as you are seeing these cancellation protocols change and they are all in your favor, why wouldn’t you book now?”